All About Saffron

A few months ago I was sitting in the break room with a co-worker and he told me that he was interested in growing Saffron.  He and his wife had taken a class on making paella.  They were so in love with it, he was interested in growing his own saffron rather than buying it.  I, of course, sat there stunned-wondering why I had never even considered growing saffron.  It’s absolutely gorgeous.

Photo courtesy of

Saffron has a slightly-sweet earthy taste that enhances with seafood, chicken, rice, pasta and breads.  Retail cost varies widely, I found prices from $75 an ounce to $150 per .25 ounces.  Ouch.

Saffron is the stigmata (lady parts) of a fall-flowering crocus called crocus sativus.    Hmmm…when I’ve bought it for recipes (like 3 times in my life) it’s been yellow right out of the jar.  There could be a few reasons for this.  1.  Lower grades of saffron come from the lower part of the stigma and are more yellow.   2.  The stamen of the saffron crocus is yellow and they were selling me the man junk and the lady business of the flower.  3.  They added tumeric to aid in supplying yellow color associated with saffron.  So while the saffron gives off a yellow color in recipes, the threads are actually red.  Usually in spice jars it’s wrapped in paper to protect it from light, so you can’t always see what you’re buying.  This probably accounts for the big price difference.  High quality saffron threads look like this when dried:

Saffron Threads from

So here is the skinny on growing saffron crocus.  They are hardy in zones 6-9 but can be lifted and brought in for the winter in colder climes.  Saffron like well drained soil and in some areas they only plant them in raised beds to help with drainage.  Look for a spot with full sun to part shade.  Plant 3-4 inches deep, 6 inches apart.  Corms can be planted in the spring, but you wont get a good harvest your first year, since the roots didn’t have time to establish in the fall.  Most of the suppliers I found ship saffron crocus in late summer to fall for planting.  Your saffron crocus will break ground in spring but not  flower until September and October.  You get to pick the little red threads out of them.  Picture yourself with a magnifying glass, tweezers, and a itty bitty jar to hold your bounty.  Harvesting the threads doesn’t hurt the flower.  Dry them then store away from light.  Whole threads maintain flavor the best.

I’m posting this a bit early to give you time to look in your garden and see if you have any saffron crocus, maybe you planted some without knowing or inherited some from the previous owner of your garden.  If not, you can start looking for corms from your favorite gardening store.


Issue number two, hot off the press!

Breaking Urban Ground Cover 2


In this issue we introduce you to Deb Leonard as she helps us take the mystery out of our first cheese making adventure.100_1387

We hear Marie Edwards explain why a Tower Garden may be your ticket to having fresh, home grown fruit and veggies when you thought it might be impossible.IMAG1030

Our friend Larry Hall shares his latest creation; The amazing, the simple, the versatile, automatic, self-watering,

Pop Bottle Grow System.Pop Bottle Grow System 1

Also hear and see stories of two community gardens and the people working to share the bounty with others.

New this issue we have a contribution from a viewer of her garden and some of the things she does to make and repurpose garden fixtures.

Also new are videos and pictures from viewers like you.

So what are you waiting for?

The newest subscription is ready now on iPads world wide in the Newsstand application and on iTunes for the iPad. The Breaking Urban Ground magazine app is free to download and will allow you to get notifications of exciting news when we post it.

Come join the fun. Take part in others adventures and don’t forget to share yours with us too here at

Breaking Urban Ground

Breaking Urban Ground

Growing like a weed, so it is time to transplant. (We’re moving.)

Breaking Urban Ground is already feeling the confines of this Blog site and we needed to migrate to another site to make some changes. I would like to invite all our friends, fans, visitors, followers and anyone who stumbles upon this site to join us at our new site.

At the new we will be exploring the same things as they relate to making ourselves more self-reliant at our own pace and with our own resources.

At the new site please sign up for the V.I.P. email list. We will be collecting names until Monday April 22nd for a drawing. Five lucky people will be sent an email with instructions on how to get access to our first iPad Newsstand magazine for free. We are very excited to share this with you and are already gearing up for future issues.

You can also send us pictures of your Breaking Urban Ground Projects. They can fall into these major categories.


Show us your chickens, bees, rabbits, worms(worm compost projects) goats and others.

Alternate power:

Battery storage, home wind generator, solar projects, rain storage. Any utility you provide for yourself.

Food Production:

Canning successes, canning failures, dehydrated foods, cheese making, syrup, yogurt. What food did you make?


Your urban garden, community gardens you participate in, Veggies you grew or are growing, unusual crops, your first plant. If it is growing for food we want to see pictures.

Household Stuff:

Planter projects, a trellis you made, detergent, candles, beeswax lip balm, a bat house. This is the “construction zone”.


This is more of an action than a “thing” so let’s see first aid kits, group pictures of your CPR certification class, your 72 hour kit. Help me with ideas for this category photos.


How do you maximize your space. Lets see creative ways to manage what you have. Shelves you built, basement root cellars, serious spice cabinets.

Don’t forget to tell us about the picture. A picture of canned carrots is nice but information on who made them and a little background is better.

With all of this be sure to include the kids. Breaking Urban Ground includes all people learning to provide for themselves as they have interest. The entire family can be included. My kids don’t like gardening but love to make cheese. If your kids like doing something send pictures of their projects too.

We are all about learning. Learning includes mess-ups and failures. Send pictures of these and some info on what you learned from the experience and what you will do differently next time.

Sending your photos to constitutes permission to use or not use the photos in future issue and articles and on the Breaking Urban Ground website and social media affiliations. Don’t send us pictures if they are not your own or you do not have authorization to distribute them.

Please join the fun at the new site. This can be a great spring if we make it one.


Repurposed Wire Mesh Shelves into a Hanging Garden Trellis

Looks cool and was a fast project.

Simple Urban Country Living

This project was born last summer when we went to the local consignment auction.  At about 2:00 am they auctioned off a wire mesh cube shelf set that was in a box.  No idea how many pieces were there or what we would do with it, but no one was bidding for a dollar…so we jumped in and bid.  Seemed like we could find a use for it somewhere.  Originally it probably looked like this:

When we bought it, it looked like this:

Fast forward to last weekend.  My father-in-law and I were talking about a trellis for the front yard vegetable garden.  We like to have veggies in the front yard because our kitchen window overlooks it and it makes it really easy to pick side dishes to go with dinner.  Just look outside and see what’s ripe.  Last year we had three different trellises and it looked a…

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