Rising cumin seeds to boost the backyard

I recently went on a trip to understand cumin and learn how to properly use it in cooking. Ever since I took this trip, I've been blown away by this deliciously warm spice and made the decision to grow cumin at home!

If you're something like me and have a family of simple picky eaters, then cumin is likely a small pot of brown powder that sits on the spice rack that is months out of date and rarely, if ever, used. But did you know that cumin is the second most popular spice in the world after black peppercorn? It seems that despite this huge popularity, many people including myself have misused everything.

So what is cumin? The herbal plant Cuminum cyminum, commonly known as cumin, is grown for its seeds, which are used whole or ground into a powder. It has been used in cooking and medicine throughout history, from Egyptian mummification to the ancient Greeks who seasoned all their food with cumin and sprinkled on top like salt and pepper.

In modern food culture, cumin is an important ingredient in Mexican, Asian, Indian, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. Its taste is intensely warm and earthy, but also sweet, which makes it perfect for savory and dessert dishes. The best flavor comes from using fresh whole cumin seeds that have been gently roasted before grinding, instead of the store-bought ground cumin powder.

The medicinal health benefits of cumin stem from the active ingredient cuminaldehyde, which has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antidiabetic, anti-cancer and carminative properties. It helps improve digestion, which helps minimize gas and bloating. acts as a detoxifying blood cleanser and supports weight loss by increasing the metabolism. Cumin is also full of essential vitamins and minerals, especially iron, calcium, and magnesium.

Good products for growing cumin:

Brief instructions for care

Growing cumin is relatively easy, even for a beginner. Source: klugi

Common Name (s) cumin
Scientific name Cuminum cyminum
Days to harvest 120-150 days
light Full sun
Water: Regular
ground Sandy loam, loam
fertilizer Balanced organic liquid fertilizer
Pests Aphids
Diseases Fusarium wither, Alternaria disease, powdery mildew

Everything about cumin

The scientific name for the cumin plant is Cuminum cyminum. It is an annual herb from the parsley family Apiaceae, which includes parsnips, carrots, coriander and of course parsley. It is believed to originate from the Eastern Mediterranean, but also originated in the Middle East and India, where the majority of the world's supply is produced today.

Cumin is a low-growing plant that reaches an average height of 12 to 20 inches and a diameter of 2 to 6 inches. Smooth, slender, branched stems have finely dissected compound leaves with thread-like leaflets of blue / green color. Irregular pink or white flowers form in mid-summer on umbels with 5-7 rays. Seed pods develop after flowering in early fall when the stems and seed heads begin to dry out. The seeds are oblong, about ¼ inch long, ribbed, and initially green / gray, turning brownish yellow when harvested.

Cumin does not tolerate frost. It takes a long growing season of at least 120 days with temperatures no less than 15ºC. In cool northern regions, start sowing indoors, which can be planted outdoors after the last frost.

When planning to grow cumin, it is important to understand that each plant produces a small number of seeds. If you want to grow large quantities of cumin, you need to calculate how much space you will need to get an adequate harvest.

Cumin is perfect for companion planting in a mixed vegetable garden. The flowers attract beneficial insects such as predatory wasps that feed on pests such as caterpillars that attack the plants of the cabbage family. Grow cumin next to these plants for maximum benefit.

Plant cumin seeds

To successfully grow cumin seeds, you need fertile, freely draining soil in full sun. Cumin is a drought tolerant plant, but can also adapt well to climates with frequent rainfall as long as the soil is well drained. Prolonged moist soil conditions can cause root rot and plant decay.

No-till cumin outside a week or two after the last frost, when temperatures are consistently 15 ° C and above. In colder areas, sow the seeds indoors in soil blocks or biodegradable peat pots 6-8 weeks before the last frost to avoid minimal root disturbance. Seed germination takes between 7 and 14 days. Plant seedlings outside after the chances of freezing are over and temperatures are 60 degrees Fahrenheit and above.

Cumin benefits from being easily overcrowded or planted in clumps, which provides support and prevents stems from falling to the ground.

When you're short on space, why not grow cumin in containers? The advantage of containers is that you can start plants indoors and move them outside as needed.


Cumin in flowerA cumin stand in flower. Source: Herbolario Allium

Growing cumin is pretty easy to grow when the conditions are right. Read on to learn how to grow cumin in your own garden.

Sun and temperature

Grow cumin in a location that will be exposed to direct sunlight for at least 8 hours. The USDA zones for growing cumin are between 5 and 10. Plants require a minimum of 120 days with temperatures between 15 ° C and 27 ° C to reach maturity and produce viable seeds.

Cumin does not tolerate frost, which is why the seeds should be used indoors in cooler climates. At the other extreme temperature, cumin can withstand maximum values ​​of 32 ° C.

Water and moisture

Cumin plants need about 1 inch of water per week, so the soil almost dries out between waterings. Adding light mulches like clippings, straw, or shredded leaves will help maintain soil moisture in very hot weather. Plants can be misted to provide ambient moisture without the potential risk of root rot. Hand water with a hose or watering can, or use timed waterer hoses and stop watering when the flowers and seed heads start to turn brown.

Containerized cumin require more water than plants growing in the ground.


Cumin grow best in fertile, well-drained, sandy loam-loam soils. Heavier soils will require modifications such as perlite to improve drainage capacity. The optimal pH range of the soil is between 7.0 neutral and 7.5, but cumin tolerates a wide range from 6.8 slightly acidic to 8.3 alkaline.


At the beginning of the year before sowing, a balanced organic soil conditioner can be added to the soil. Feed cumin plants with a balanced organic liquid fertilizer as soon as flowering stems develop. Avoid nitrogen-rich fertilizers as this will reduce the scent and aroma of the harvested seed.


Cumin is an annual plant that is grown for its seed and therefore does not require pruning. Damaged or diseased stems and leaves should be removed to prevent problems from spreading. Flower heads should be left on the plant to produce ripe cumin seeds for harvest. After harvesting the seed pods, the rest of the plant can be composted.


Cumin plants are propagated from seeds that are sown directly outside or inside in pots for later planting.

Outside: Sow the seeds right about two weeks after the last frost date and temperatures are around 15 ° C and above. Sow in burs, ¼ inch deep and thin seedlings when 2 inches tall by 4-8 inches apart. Alternatively, sow 4 seeds every 4 to 8 inches so the plants can support each other as they grow. Lines should be 18 inches apart. Germination outdoors usually takes between 7 and 14 days.

Inside: Start seeds indoors 6-8 weeks before the last frost. Sow seeds ¼ inch deep in soil blocks or biodegradable pots to reduce the risk of transplant shock and keep them moist until shoots appear. Transplant outdoors 4 to 8 inches apart when daytime temperatures are 15 ° C or greater. Seeds should germinate between 7 and 14 days or sooner if a heated multiplier is used.

Harvesting and storing

Cumin seedsCumin can be ground into powder or used whole. Source: Gusjer

The seeds are ready to be harvested after 120-150 days. Cumin plants may not all harvest equally. So keep an eye on your harvest to make sure you harvest on time. If the seeds stay on the plant too long, they will fall and scatter on the ground. You may also want to protect your seeds from birds and other wildlife by placing nets or cages over your plants.


Cumin seeds are ready to harvest in the fall, when the flowers have finished blooming and the seed heads turn brown. To harvest, cut stems near the ground, bundle and tie the ends, and place the seed heads in a paper bag. Hang the stems and pouches upside down in a warm place to allow the seed pods to dry out completely. The bag catches all falling seeds. The stems can also be left flat on trays in sunlight to speed up the drying process.

Once everything is completely dry, you can start separating the seeds from the pods. Hit the stems against a hard surface while they're still in the bag or roll the pods between your fingers to separate the cumin seeds. Carefully remove chaff, dirt, and debris from the remaining seeds before storing.

Cumin plants are not grown for their foliage, however fresh leaves can be harvested from mature plants to give salads a slightly tangy flavor, or used as a herb garnish for soups and stews. After harvesting, treat the leaves like an herb or a fresh salad and store them in the refrigerator for up to a few days.


Once the seeds have dried, store them whole in an airtight container and keep them fresh for 2 years. Seeds can be used whole or ground to a fine powder. However, the freshness and flavor deteriorate much faster when the seeds are ground. For best results, store the seeds whole and gently toast them before grinding. Use ground cumin powder as soon as possible.


Cumin formsAs the flowers fade, the cumin peel will develop at the top of each stem. Source: Vahe Martirosyan

Cumin plants are pretty easy to grow, but there are a few things to look out for when caring for them.

Growing problems

Overwatering cumin can lead to root rot. When plants are showing symptoms of decline and there are no obvious signs of pests or disease, it is best to check the soil moisture levels. You can use a soil moisture probe or your hand to test whether the soil around the base of the plant feels wet. Allow the soil to dry out to dissolve and reduce the frequency of watering.


Aphids (Aphidoidea) infect the young new growths of plants, feed on the phloem sap and dehydrate the plant. The resulting damage is distorted leaves and stems. Aphids also carry a variety of other plant diseases. Use beneficial insects such as ladybug larvae (Cococinella septempunctata) for biological treatment. Or spray with a good organic insecticidal soap or neem oil.


Fusarium wither is a soil-borne fungal disease that affects a plant's ability to transport water and stay hydrated. Symptoms usually appear late in the season and include withering leaves, drooping stems, and older leaves that turn yellow. Fusarium withered can also spread through contaminated seeds, tools, and insects. It is important to keep all tools clean and obtain quality seeds from trusted sources. Affected plants should be destroyed and not composted. Applying a biological fungicide like MycoStop to the soil has shown signs of reducing the spread of Fusarium.

Alternaria plague is a fungal disease that thrives in warm, humid conditions and spreads to contaminated soil and seeds. The fine, tender cumin leaves are completely discolored by this disease and can quickly take hold of an entire crop. Healthy plants are less affected. So make sure the plants are well fed, hydrated, and weed free to maximize air circulation. Remove and destroy affected plants and remove all plant debris to prevent the fungal spores from overwintering. Organic treatment for this disease is limited to copper fungicides.

mildew affects plants in damp shade in hot, humid weather. This fungal disease spreads through spores, covers the leaves with a white growth resembling dusting with flour, and inhibits optimal photosynthesis. The leaves turn yellow, dry completely and die. Good gardening hygiene is important to avoiding this disease, removing infected foliage, and bringing plants to full sun. Treat with organic fungicidal sprays such as sulfur, neem oil, and potassium bicarbonate.

frequently asked Questions

Cuminum cyminumCuminum cyminum, the cumin plant, is an herbaceous and fine-leaved yearbook. Source: M. Martin Vicente

Q: is cumin easy to grow?

A: Cumin is easy to grow when the conditions are right. It needs fertile, well-drained soil and full sun.

Q: is cumin a perennial?

A: Cumin is an annual plant with a growing season of around 120-150 days during the hottest months of the year.

Q: How long does cumin last?

A: Cumin seeds should have a shelf life of up to two years when stored in an airtight container.

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