Caraway (Carum carvi) is originated from the humid high mountain fields of many hot countries of Asia, Africa and Europe, mainly from Egypt. Its name comes from the Arabic word "karâwiyâ", meaning "sugar root" because its root is indeed somewhat sweet.
It is a biennial herbaceous plant which doesn't have a lot of species. It is also called "Meridian fennel" or "Persian cumin". It can easily be confused with the carrot for its leaves, with cumin for its seeds, with celery for its root and with anise for its taste, because it is aniseed and even slightly lemony and minty. It is used for its leaves, its root, but it is especially for its seeds that it is famous; it is also why it is often confused with cumin because their seeds are very similar.
Caraway propagation is done by sowing, from April to September, the best moment being at the end of summer. It has to be sown directly in its definitive place because it does not like transplanting. Grown easily in our region, it needs a good mix of potting soil, humus and sand, nothing more. Seeds need to be buried at 1 cm deep in small in-line holes. Further, when the seedlings are 10 cm high, they need to be thinned out to 15-20 cm apart in all directions. The germination of seeds is fast, it is done in less than 15 days. It is a very invasive plant that spreads itself if nothing is done at the end of cultivation.
Location / Exposure
Caraway needs deep, cool, well-drained and light soil. It can be cultivated both indoor and outdoor. It must be well exposed and placed in a warm place even if it can bear shade.
This aromatic herb does not require a lot of care. It should not be over watered except when it is very hot (the earth should not be too dry).
The harvest of the leaves can begin 3 months after sowing, so when the plant is still young. It can last throughout the growing period of the plant. The seeds are harvested one year after sowing when caraway begins to flower. They must be harvested in the middle of summer as soon as they get a little brown. The root is harvested during the autumn of the second year. If it is cultivated for its seeds, as soon as these begin to ripen it is necessary to cut the plant and to hang it in a dry and ventilated place. It's good to think to put a bag under it so that the seeds fall on it.
It is a very hardy plant that is not sensitive to cold and can withstand frosts that do not last very long.