Growing caraway, The meridian fennel or Caraway belongs to the Apiaceae family and is native to western Asia, Europe, and North Africa. The widespread use of this herb in various worldwide cuisines makes it profitable for people who cultivate them.
The herbs have strong ties to the carrot family and look quite similar to the other members of the family. The fruits harvested from the plant look like crescent-shaped achenes 2mm long and have five ridges.
The plant takes about 70 days to mature
They can reach a height of about 30 inches.
Ideally, Caraway grows best in sandy, loamy soil rich in organic contents and a sound drainage system.
The plant prefers full sun during the growth period.
Hardiness (USDA Zone)
4-10 USDA Zone fits the plant.
A spacing of about 12 inches should get maintained between two plants.
They bloom in the spring or early summer of the 2nd year of the plant
They generally come in brown color with a yellowish hue.
They take about 70 days to mature when they bloom.
The plant finds its nativity in Europe and Western Asia.
The plant prefers to keep its foliage dry, and drip irrigation fits the bill. The drip irrigation method helps the soil retain moisture without drenching the foliage. The plants need pruning in the fall as it allows the plant to thrive.
The caraway plant finds its nativity in Asia as well as in certain parts of Europe. During its initial days of consumption, people used it in antiquity. Since the middle ages, people have cultivated the plant for the caraway seeds in Europe.
The remnants of the caraway seeds in the debris of various lakes of Switzerland testify its use in medieval ages. Some European experts even consider spice as one of the oldest spices on the continent. Several writings from the 17th-century state caraway seeds get used in daily consumables like bread, fruits, and cakes.
There is a long-standing history of consuming caraway seeds as an ingredient in cuisines and indigenous medicines. People mistakenly consider caraway plants’ harvest as seeds, whereas, in reality, it is a type of dry fruit.
The tiny bitter-tasting seeds house a wide range of nutrients that often gets overlooked in the diet of the western country. The caraway seeds get loaded with iron, zinc, calcium, and fiber that helps the body of an individual to tackle various ailments.
The antioxidants like limonene and carvone help the body to neutralize free radicals that directly initiate premature aging. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties present in the caraway seeds help the body overcome inflammatory bowel diseases by reducing inflammation organically.
Common ailments like stomach ulcers and indigestion can get treated with essential oils extracted from the caraway plant. An experimental study conducted on 70 overweight women using extracts of the caraway seeds has shown positive results in losing weight over time.
Nutrients and Minerals for Caraway Plant:
Caraway plants are one of those herbs that do not require supplemental assistance to the soil. However, experts advise cultivators to go for soil tests before adding any nutrients to the earth. As the plant needs rich, loamy soil to thrive, adding 4-inch deep compost will suffice.
If the soil report shows not very promising results, cultivators can add about six spoons of complete all-purpose fertilizers to the soil in the ratio of 16-16-8 per 10 square feet of the gardening area.
People growing Caraway in the containers can use liquid fertilizers at half their strength every week from the day of sowing caraway seeds. Adding aged compost or nitrogen fertilizers to the soil as a side dressing helps the plant to thrive.
When to Plant Caraway Plant:
Caraway grows best in soil with a 6-7 pH level with a well-drained soil structure. The plants do not require much addition of fertilizers to the earth, and a moderate fertile can do the job of growing Caraway appropriately.
However, adding aged manure or compost to the ground in side-dressing helps the plant thrive. The cultivators should pick an area in the garden that receives 6-8 hours of direct sunlight every day.
The ideal time to sow caraway seeds into the soil begins with the onset of spring and lasts till autumn. People can grow Caraway indoors in biodegradable pots at least 3-4 weeks before the last frost date.
How to Plant Caraway Plant:
The process of growing Caraway does not involve excruciatingly long steps and can thrive with minimal effort from the cultivator’s end. People growing Caraway in pots should place the soil in shallow soil and cover the topsoil with vermiculite.
Once the caraway seeds germinate after 7-14 days, the cultivator can transfer the seedlings to the garden area after the frost date has passed. Once the spring sets in, the plant should get moved to the garden area to give it a better prospect to grow.
A ¼ inch deep hole in the soil can do the job appropriately, along with a cover of vermiculite. Cultivators growing caraway plants in large numbers should maintain a spacing of 8 inches between two plants.
When it comes to growing Caraway with other crops, they become pretty accommodating; cultivators can grow any vegetable along with it without much hassle. However, growing Caraway with fennel fetched undesirable results, and peas are its best companion.
How to Grow Caraway Plant:
The plant requires routine watering until it establishes itself. Letting the seedling dry out during the growth period will fetch no result at the end. A periodic proportionate watering helps the plant to become mature quicker. Once the flowers start blooming, stopping to water allows the plant to mature faster.
Adding fertilizers to the soil once the height of the seedlings reaches about 3 inches; another batch of fertilizer needs to go to the earth when flowers bloom. The plant cannot withstand the winter season as the soil temperature drops, making it difficult to survive.
A layer of thick mulch on the soil surface helps the soil maintain its temperature and retain moisture within. In the first year, a light pruning of the Caraway leaves allows the plant to thrive, but cultivators should not go for heavy pruning as it eventually weakens the plant.
Once the plant becomes two years old, removing the flowers helps it grow for another year. People growing Caraway indoors should pick a container of sufficient depth; a container of 8 inches deep should do the job. The taproot of the caraway plant does not make it a plant to grow in containers. As the plant significantly depends on bees for pollination, growing Caraway outdoors will fetch better results.
How to harvest and store Caraway:
As the spring sets in, harvesting caraway leaves should get started in the first year. The following year, the plant can fetch seeds for consumption. Harvesters should look for flowers with seeds in them, and the shift of color from yellowish to brown indicates as the flower becomes ready for harvest.
Once the harvesters complete harvesting flowers, they should immediately harvest the roots as well. When appropriately followed, the harvesting caraway leaves are pretty straightforward. Using a sharp knife, make clean cuts and are ready for use.
In the case of seeds, harvesters should use a paper bag and tie it around the seed’s head, allowing the roots to fall inside the bag instead of going to waste. The harvesting should get done before the frost season sets.
There are three methods that harvesters can employ to preserve and store: refrigerating, drying, and storing. Ideally, consuming fresh caraway leaves imparts the natural flavor to the taste pallet. Still, one can reserve them by chilling for a few weeks, using a damp paper towel to wrap the leaves, and placing them in plastic before putting them inside the refrigerator.
Drying seed heads improves the consumption of the caraway seeds significantly and becomes relatively easy to store.
Varieties of Caraway:
- Biennial Caraway: There are not many varieties for caraway herbs except the biennial and annual variants. The biennials take about two seasons to fetch harvests. The plant’s first year produces rosettes, which form stalks that send up to bear umbels the following year.
- Annual Caraway: They are ideal for people residing in warmer regions and planted when the winter sets. As the plant gets a long growing season, they produce rosettes and stalk the same year. The flavor generated from the seeds of this variant is sweeter in comparison to the biennials.
Pests and Diseases:
- Aster Yellows: The leafhopper insects propagate the disease to various other plant parts from one infected area. The condition causes flower heads and stems to become yellow. They significantly impact the size of the leaves, causes malformation of flowers and seed failure. The best way to get rid of this disease involves controlling leafhoppers.
- Blight: The disease causes the flower to become brown and black and eventually die. This type of fungal disease causes the plant to fail to produce seeds. Crop rotation is the best bet to get rid of this disease from cultivation.
- Phoma Light: The disease generally happens due to propagation from infected seeds. They create grey or black lesions on the stem. They as well prevent seed formation. The best way to get rid of this disease from cultivation involves the use of disease-free seed variants.
- Powdery mildew is another fungal disease that spreads powdery substances and white spores on the leaves and stems. The condition, once progressed, can cause a reduction in seed production; providing the plant with adequate water, light, and nutrition regularly helps to control the disease.
- Buttered Caraway with cabbage.
- Caraway seed cake.
- Bakes potatoes with caraway seeds.