Cumin’s pungent aroma has made it a popular spice since ancient times.
Kept on Egyptian tables the way we use salt and pepper, cumin is said to provide many different health benefits, though there is zero scientific proof for any of those claims, There are still plenty of other good reasons for growing your own cumin.
Cumin’s umbrella-shaped flowers make it easy to identify as a member of the parsley family. Other common garden Umbellifers, or Apiaceae, include carrots, celery, dill, parsnips, and fennel. Like other umbellifers, cumin flowers attract many beneficial insects, such as hoverflies and pollinators.
Native to the Middle East, cumin (Cuminum cyminum) grows best in hot, dry regions and is very drought tolerant. It takes 3 to 4 months of hot weather to reach maturity. If temperatures drop, leaves will turn purple. If it gets really cold, cumin is very susceptible to frost damage.
The cumin plant
Cumin seeds look a lot like caraway seeds, being oblong with ridges. Those ridges are oil glands. Cumin plants grow 12 to 20 inches tall, with attractive, feathery leaves. Cumin seeds are contained in dried fruits called achenes.
How to grow cumin
If you have the heat, you can grow cumin. Seeds should be planted 1/4 deep and spaced 8” apart. These plants are very delicate when they first germinate and do not perform well in heavy clay soil. They prefer loose, sandy soil with good drainage, which makes them an excellent choice for raised beds. The ideal pH is 6.8 to 8.3.
Cumin pests and diseases
Aphids, mites, thrips, tobacco caterpillars, cutworms, cigarette beetles, drugstore beetles, and root knot nematodes may cause problems for cumin. Diseases that may strike your cumin plants include Fusarium wilt, blight, powdery mildew, and damping off disease.
Cumin seeds are frequently included in birdseed mixes, so this plant has spread globally. Once established, this annual plant readily self-seeds an area.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!