US (VT): Horticulturist experiments with growing greenhouse saffron

Inside its greenhouses tucked along Route 7 in Charlotte, Horsford Gardens and Nursery is spearheading an effort to make saffron a viable agricultural option for local nurseries and home growers alike.

Leading the research effort is Steve Davidson, who studied Horticulture and Plant and Soil Science at the University of Vermont and has worked at Horsford’s for five years.

He explained that the spice is harvested from crocus flowers, the bulbs of which are called corms; he hopes to prove that using fertilized soil, rather than untouched soil, boosts corm reproduction, improves flower growth rate, and improves the quality of harvested saffron. Once growers understand the best growing method, he believes saffron will become another product to bear a Vermont label.

“Saffron’s really taking off,” he said, “and the average homeowner-slash-producer wants to grow it.”

In summer, the greenhouses at Horsford’s are packed with lush, overflowing crates of perennials. This time of year, however, is quiet. The long, mostly empty rows of wooden tables in the gray fall light that comes through the greenhouse glass doesn’t show much promise of life, but Davidson said fall is perfect for crocuses.

Read more at Shelburne News (Chea Evans)

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