Two Tricks and Basic How-To Advice For Growing Caraway

Growing caraway isn't difficult in the home herb garden and you may want to if you are a big baker or cheese maker.

This herb is used in flavoring cheeses and breads but isn't one of the biggest selling home herb garden plants. (Mind you, if you like it, you really like it.) :-)

Caraway is a Biennial

Note that this plant is a biennial. In practical terms, this means you start the plants two years in a row from seed and after that, you'll likely have all the plants you want as this one will self-sow.

In fact, it self sows so much it can become quite a nuisance plant. I'm told in some areas it has escaped from gardens and is becoming a noxious weed. But you won't get seeds until the second year so starting them two years in a row will give you an ongoing crop.

Growing Caraway

Sow this plant directly into the garden as the seedlings with their long taproot are notoriously difficult to transplant.

Sow in the full sun when the ground warms up along with the rest of the vegetable garden. The end of May to mid-June is fine. The seed should be barely covered and kept moist until it germinates.

Sow at several seeds to the inch and thin the seedlings to the strongest leaving a strong plant every 12 inches.

Caraway likes a sandy soil with good drainage so clays or wet soils are not going to grow a good plant (and they'll likely die over the winter).

Note the plants resemble Queen Anne's Lace with feathery, delicate foliage and you may think you have a weed.

Caraway Tricks

The trick, at least in the first year, is that the caraway will seldom grow taller than 12 inches while Queen Anne's lace will shoot up under the fertility in a vegetable patch.

A second trick to growing caraway is to sow the seeds in September. While a spring sowing will not give you seeds until the plants mature the second year, sometimes a fall sowing will give you seeds the following summer.

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Harvest the seeds when they are dry.

You might see aphids and sometimes caterpillars will take a chunk here and there of this plant but it is pretty straightforward and easy to grow. Just watch out for volunteer seedlings as growing caraway can become a bit weedy.

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