Nigella damascena or love-in-a-mist is an annual flowering plant with frothy romantic flowers. Easy to grow and easy to harvest seeds from this wonderful plant is a must for Cottage Gardens and urban gardens alike.
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Nigella is native to southern Europe and the northern regions of Africa. It has been grown in British and european gardens for decades, as far back as 1548! Otherwise Known as Love-in-a-mist, it was once used by Egyptian women for vanity purposes. Long before ‘thin was in‘ the egyptian ideal was a full and voluptuous female figure. Ancient Egyptian women would eat Nigella Seeds believing it would plump up their figures and in turn make them more desirable to potential suitors.
Why You should Grow Nigella
They are easy to grow, wonderful for cottage gardens, borders and even pots. Fabulous for filling an empty bed quickly! Scatter seeds in drifts to create swathes of misty blue flowers that will fill your garden with romantic colour throughout Summer.
How to Harvest and Save Nigella Seeds
What do Nigella Pods Look Like – Nigella pods are hard to miss even when the flowers have fallen away.The Nigella pods sit on top of thin green stems with feathery dill-like leaves. The pods at first will be light green in colour but will eventually darken to a deep burgundy shade.
Inside the seed pods are the nigella seeds, but they are not quite ready yet! Here is how I harvest Nigella seeds….
The 3 Steps to Harvesting Nigella Seeds
Step One: Timing is everything!
Wait until their ready. Harvest Nigella Pods once they have completely dried out and turned brown. You will know their ready when you shake the pods and the seeds rattle inside. You may also see a small split at the top of the pod
Step Two: Cut Off the Pods
Cut the Brown Pods off the plant as soon as they rattle, it’s important you do this sooner rather than later. If you wait too long the Nigella pods will burst open and disperse their seeds.
Step Three: Harvest the Seeds
There are 2 ways to do this. The first is to simply pull open the pods with your fingers and tip the seeds out. Or the second way is to place Nigella Pods in a paper bag and shake vigorously, the pods will burst open releasing the seeds
How to Store Nigella Seeds
Before storing make sure your Nigella seeds are completely dry. Store in a paper envelope or glass jar in a cool, dark and dry environment.
How Do You Dry Nigella Seeds
You want to make sure Nigella seeds are bone dry before attempting to store them…any moisture from the seeds can cause mould to form which would ruin your seed harvest and prevent seed viability for the following growing season. To dry, spread out Nigella seeds on Brown paper or Newspaper in a dark, dry sheltered environment for up to 1 week.
Nigella seed pods are ready to be harvested when they are:
- Completely dried out, brown in colour with a papery texture
- You can clearly hear the seeds rattling within the pod
Will Nigella Self Seed?
Yes they will. But if you like a little uniformity to your garden like I do and you would rather control were they pop up and choose their location..then seed harvesting is the way to go! Seed harvesting is also a wonderful way of being more selective with your blooms…choose to harvest seeds from the most beautiful Nigella plants. Top Tip- Pick your favourites by tying ribbon to the plant you want to harvest seed from later in the season.
Growing Nigella for the First Time?
Need a plant to harvest from? We all have to start somewhere! Here are some Nigella seeds to get you started…
Other Uses For Nigella Seeds
Did you know you can eat Nigella seeds? Nigella seeds have a herby-oniony type flavour, sprinkle them on salads, chicken, add to rice dishes and even soups. These wonderfully aromatic seeds are not just for growing! They are particularly good on Roast Potatoes too!
How To Prepare Nigella seeds for eating
Nigella seeds can be eaten raw or roasted. Use the seeds whole or grind with a pestle and mortar for a herby rub seasoning.
Health Benefits of Nigella seeds
- May help Lower Cholesterol levels
- Packed With Antioxidants
- May help alleviate Inflammation
- Can Aid Regulating blood sugar
- May have Cancer-Fighting Properties
- May help Prevent Stomach Ulcers
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