Saffron may have long been among the world’s most costly spices by weight, but Arcadia grower Lisa Menhenett said you’d have to have a lot of the flower’s vivid crimson stigmas and styles to get a commercial weight.LAURA GRIFFIN April 29, 2014 3:07am
Saffron may have long been among the world’s most costly spices by weight, but Arcadia grower Lisa Menhenett said you’d have to have a lot of the flower’s vivid crimson stigmas and styles to get a commercial weight.
Mrs Menhenett started growing saffron about five or six years ago, after reading an article that sparked her interest and buying bulbs off the Stanley (near Beechworth) grower it featured.
She and husband Lee also bought bulbs from Tasmania and in their first season planted about 150 bulbs.
At the time, she was working from home and looking after children Teagan (now 12) and Reily (now 10).
It has been a case of trial and error for the family — for example, in the first year they planted bulbs in different soil types and found they like light, well-drained soils best and plenty of sunlight — and unfortunately last year, the harvest was too small to warrant having a stall at Echuca Farmers’ Market.
Mrs Menhenett said this year’s crop was also likely to be small.
‘‘This year, the flowers are very late and the plants were late growing,’’ she said.
‘‘Normally by now they would have flowered.’’
She doesn’t know whether they will flower late or very little.
The saffron bulbs (or more specifically crocus) grow similarly to garlic — all propagation is by vegetative multiplication via manual dividing of a starter clone.
Mrs Menhenett estimated they now have about 100
The stigmas and styles from the purple flowers are picked by hand and dried.
The Menhenetts sell the fragrant spice on the Victorian Farmers’ Markets Association online marketplace ‘Farmhouse Direct’, which she said was the most economical way of selling it given the small amount they produced.
The bulbs are then lifted from the ground, before they are planted again in early March (depending on the weather).
Mrs Menhenett thinks moisture is too blame for the lucklustre harvest.
‘‘Saffron doesn’t like getting wet because it can cause rot.’’
She said the saffron was a pet project and both she and her husband worked off-farm and had a 400
Her dream of having a paddock full of the purple flowers and sweet aroma is still a way off, but she is determined to treat the bulbs with fungicide next season, rotate the planting bed and space the plantings more.
Two men charged over the armed robbery of a Shepparton service station have been remanded in custody until next week.
The 2014 Yarrawonga Mulwala Multisport Festival has been hailed a huge success by organisers and participants alike.
The fifth annual King Billy Retreat Open Garden Party will be held at Rushworth on Saturday and Sunday, October 25-26, from 10 am to 4 pm.
Echuca College students Calum Pearson, Luke Judd, Kiriana Epararma, Harriet Nilon, Kyle Melhuish and Stephanie Chong are heading to China.
A former Rochester resident is helping women with their confidence and their horses.
Accusations of bullying, disrespect and dangerous conduct.
And the school's best all-rounder for this year.
Finley's Mark Whiley has been traded from the GWS Giants to Carlton - the club he has supported all his life.
District residents are being invited to enjoy Oktooberfest celebrations at Tooborac Hotel and Brewery.
Momentum builds for the greatest show in Cobram, with young and old expected to lap up family attractions in sunny conditions.
Water users have welcomed the governments' announcement of a $350 million package for new irrigation efficiency programs in NSW, but say water availability is in need of improvement.
Farmers and anyone interested in big boys’ toys will be fascinated to check out an unmanned helicopter in action at an Ardmona orchard.
Judge comments, If I were single, I'd marry this steak!
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.