Have you ever seen a sesame plant? Surely you know sesame, sesame oil and tahini. But have you tried growing sesame plants for sesame oil yourself? If not, here is your chance!
Sesame, or Sesamum indicum, is grown as a food crop in hot arid areas such as India and Africa around the world. There are records of its growth in China over 5000 years ago. Tahini, a popular food (not only among people in the Mediterranean and Middle East), is made from ground sesame seeds. Look for sesame seeds and you will find them just about anywhere.
Whether you want to share seeds from your garden with the family or want to grow a drought tolerant plant, sesame is for you. The stems of the sesame grow up to a meter high and its bell-shaped flowers are beautiful to look at. Find your favorite strain at local seed dealers and you will have a fresh harvest of seeds in 13 weeks!
Good products on Amazon for growing sesame seeds:
Brief instructions for care
Sesame seeds are extremely popular around the world. Source: Eduà
|Common name (s)||Sesame, Benne, Gingelly, Sim Sim, Til|
|Scientific name||Sesame indicum|
|Days to harvest||90 to 110 days or 13 to 16 weeks|
|water||16 to 18 inches annually|
|ground||Fertile, well-drained with a pH of 5 to 8|
|fertilizer||Slow release of nitrogen and foliar fertilization|
|Pests||Aphids, cicadas, thrips, cutworms, leaf rollers|
|Diseases||Phyllody, Phytophthora rot, dry root rot, Alternaria rot, dampening|
All about sesame seeds
Sesame plants are really beautiful. Source: fredwlangjr
Sesamum indicum is commonly known as Sesame, Benne, Gingelly, Sim Sim, and Til. This drought tolerant flowering plant is native to India and grows wild in Africa and other tropical regions of the world. It is a staple of Middle Eastern cuisine and medicine with origins hundreds of years ago.
Sesame plants are beautiful. Green leaves grow opposite to each other on a central stem. Your sesame seeds can grow up to 3.5 feet tall. They produce a beautiful white, pink, blue, or purple bell-shaped flower that emerges from the flower stem. When it is harvest time, flowers turn into fruits that dry up and form seed pods.
Sesame plants produce fruit annually and grow slowly from seeds. It is recommended that growers start indoor sesame seeds in early spring or late winter. They bloom in summer and bear fruit before the first frost. The pods are collected before opening and placed in a container to prevent breakage. The seeds are small, less than 3 millimeters, and range in color from white to dark brown or black. Most people grow benne for seeds and oil. The leaves of a Benn plant are edible, but have a mild taste.
Sesame seeds have a long history in Japan. Japanese foods contain this crop in many forms: fermented, pressed, and ground to flavor.
Sesame is said to have medicinal uses around the world. For example, in Taiwan, sesame oil is used to prevent inflammation. Using this oil instead of olive or canola oil can lower high blood pressure. It is sold in capsules as an added benefit, as each seed contains very health-promoting properties.
Some varieties of sesame plants produce multicolored seeds, such as black and tan sesame. This sesame plant blooms in pink bell-shaped flowers and the pods contain black and brown sesame seeds.
Planting the sesame plant
A Korean sesame field. Source: eekim
Plant sesame seeds indoors at least two months before summer or outdoors shortly after the last frost. This will give Benne enough time to germinate. Sesame plants need full sun and slightly alkaline, well-drained and somewhat fertile soil throughout the growing season. Young seeds need moist conditions first.
For maximum yields, plant sesame plants in large swaths. They can also be grown in containers. Yields are lower in pots, but the harvest can be substantial if planting in the garden is not possible. A good number of seeds come from just one plant.
If the pod breaks, you may unknowingly distribute more sesame seeds than you want. If you have chosen to plant in the ground rather than in pots, a crush resistant variety may be more suitable for your needs. However, varieties that are not unbreakable do better in containers.
Planting sesame seeds is easy. Simply place the seeds less than an inch under a soilless growing mix and keep them moist until they germinate. After germination, reduce watering to once a week. Keep the seeds at temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
Sesame flowers have a beautiful bell shape. Source: rabanito
Sesame or Benny plants are easy to care for and require little extra attention besides providing the right conditions. As long as your soil, sun and moisture levels are right, you're good to go.
Sun and temperature
Sesame plants like full sun or six hours of direct sunlight a day. Flowers bloom in the summer heat, but seeds prefer to start in soils with temperatures of 65 to 75 degrees. Sesame plants enjoy zones 10 and up. Sesame appreciates high heat once the plants are established, but preferably at temperatures of 77 to 80 degrees. Higher heat results in faster fruit formation. Sesame is a hot weather plant. As soon as plants have temperatures below 58 degrees, damage occurs and plant production decreases. Intense cold easily kills a plant. Rapid frost in spring requires frost cloth.
Water and moisture
Sesame, Sesamum indicum, is a drought-tolerant plant that needs little moisture. Standing water for just a few hours can kill a sesame plant. Wild sesame plants only get about 16 to 18 inches of rain annually. Water the soil well before planting sesame seeds. Too much watering can cause the seed pods to break.
If you water during the growing season, put a splash of water on the surface of the soil in the morning. Containers help the soil dry out faster, so provide a little more water for the sesame plants in pots. For this type of culture, gentle and brief watering with a watering hose is sufficient. If the season is wet and rainy, don't water sesame plants. Too much moisture prevents growth. If you're not sure what type of spring season you're going to have, try planting in a container and walking in when the humidity increases.
Sesam or Benne values well-drained, fertile soils. Avoid planting in heavy clay soils with a high salt content, as this will decrease or stop plant production. The optimal pH for sesame plant soil is 5.6 to 8; Neutral soils are best for this plant.
Sesame enjoys nitrogen-rich foliar fertilization throughout the growing season. Apply more nitrogen fertilizer in regions with more precipitation. Only fertilize before you start to produce flowers and fruits. One way to ensure success with Sesamum indicum is to prep the soil with fertilizers before planting. Add potash and phosphorus when the soils receive less annual rainfall. For home gardeners, a high proportion of organic material in the soil can reduce the need for fertilizers.
Sesame and Sesamum indicum plants do not need any pruning. If they look long or have developed disease from too much moisture, prune the leaves as needed. Leave enough foliage for the plants to photosynthesize. Simply snap off the leaves as needed and leave the bell-shaped flowers in place.
Planting sesame seeds is the only way to propagate Benne plants. Plant seeds from a recently harvested crop or try planting seeds from the grocery store. Although it is possible to sow the seeds directly, start them indoors as described in the section on planting. Using a soilless medium, add moisture until the seeds germinate and then rejuvenate.
Harvest and storage
Sesame will turn brown just before harvest. Source: tocaptureitonce
Harvesting your Benne plants is easy, especially when the light and water content are right. Let's discuss how to collect these seeds and keep them in your kitchen year round.
Remove the seed pods from the stem when they are green, then stand them up in a jar to break open. If you see the bean pods brown and crack open easily, that is a surefire sign that these seeds need to be harvested. Harvest from the bottom of the plant while your Benne plants are still in bloom. This gives you multiple harvests.
Remove the seed pods from the stem by breaking them off with your hands or cutting them off with secateurs. Do this exactly where the pod connects to the central stem of the plant, where the flower was. Place them on newspaper, parchment, or other dry area. Here they are dried so that they do not spoil. To remove the chaff from the seeds, break open the dried pods and carefully remove the seeds. Leaves can be harvested straight from the benne and used immediately.
Unlike some seeds, sesame seeds contain a lot of oil that can spoil. To prevent your crops from spoiling, let the seed pods dry on a dry surface (on newspaper or parchment paper) until they burst. Then put the seeds in a storage container. Use a mason jar or airtight container to store your seeds. A plastic bag can work. Whichever container you use, make sure it has enough space to store the number of seeds you have harvested. If you are going to use the seeds right away, put them in a dark drying cabinet. For longer storage, put them in the freezer. Dried seeds can be kept in the cupboard for six to twelve months and roasted seeds for up to a year.
Use immediately to cook the leaves. If you need to save them, put them in a plastic bag between parchment. Benn leaves don't keep for long, so eat them as soon as possible.
Close up of a sesame flower. Source: tonrulkens
Most Benne diseases are related to improper growing conditions. There are also insects that like to nibble on seeds, leaves and flowers. Let's cover some of the problems that can arise when growing sesame seeds.
Too much water will kill a sesame plant. This can mean standing water for just a few hours. To avoid wet feet, cluster your plant so that the water runs down the sides instead of sitting at the base where the roots will rot and die. Proper soil content prevents excessive moisture.
Too much heat causes premature production, but the biggest concern is too little heat. Plant seedlings at the right time, two months after the last frost. Growing stunts on sesame seeds at 60 degrees. Anything below that can kill your plant.
Small members of the family called Aphidoidea Aphids suck juice from the leaves of sesame plants. Use neem oil to rid your sesame seeds of aphids. Reapply neem as needed, no more than every seven days.
The Sesame cicada or Orosius albicinctus is another sap sucker related to aphids. A sign of a cicada infestation is curling, browning, or reddening leaves. Neem oil is also a good treatment for sesame leafhoppers. A capsaicin spray will also keep them away.
Thrips leaves silver scars on the leaves in cracks and folds of the plant material when they eat. Use tiny pirate beetles, lacewings or ladybugs, their natural enemies, to control thrips. If that doesn't work, try weekly foliar applications of pyrethrins. Neem oil works here too.
Cutworms and Leaf rollers are larvae that feed on plants. They grow into moths that continue the cycle of foraging, mating, and reproducing. Try plucking the larvae from your plant into a small container of soapy water. If you need to spray your plants because the infestation is severe, try Bacillus thuringiensis sprays. Neem oil prevents eggs from hatching.
Aster yellow, sometimes called sesamphyllody, is a phytoplasmic disease. It can be transmitted by leaf hoppers. Aster yellow can cause flower deformation, chlorosis in the leaves, stunted growth, and more. It is most common in areas with cool, humid summers, as both phytoplasm and leafhoppers do not survive the heat well. There is no cure for aster yellow and infected plants should be destroyed. Prevent this disease from spreading by using pesticides to prevent leafhoppers. Planting later in hot weather can also help prevent disease transmission.
Alternaria leaf spot can form dark circles on leaves. A liquid copper fungicide effectively prevents further spread. Remove damaged material, then spray the remaining plant with the fungicide. Avoid watering from above to reduce the chance of leaf spots.
Phytophthora rot also creates dark spots on the leaves. For this pathogen, prevention is the best cure. Avoid excessive moisture on the foliage. If you are in a damp area, you should inoculate the soil with MycoStop or other strains of bacillus to increase the ability of the plant to fight off the pathogen. Remove infected material and spray the remaining plant with a copper fungicide to reduce the spread.
Attenuation off also affects sesame seedlings. When steaming, the seedlings fall over. The stems are brown, mushy and cannot support the transfer of nutrients from the leaf to the root. Hot and wet conditions increase the chances of getting a fungal infection. Many studies are exploring ways to control dampening, but other than applying mycorrhiza to the soil to prevent fungal infection, there is no workable treatment. Remove the damaged plants and do not plant susceptible species in this soil.
frequently asked Questions
When first formed, the sesame pods are colored green. Source: shikigami2011
Q: Can you eat a sesame plant?
A: Yes, sesame leaves and seeds can be eaten. However, leaves should be consumed within a few hours, otherwise they will not have the same integrity. Seeds last much longer. Flowers are usually not eaten.
Q: Can you eat raw sesame seeds?
A: Yes, sesame seeds can be eaten raw. However, when you toast them, they have a much stronger flavor.
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