Spring is coming
It's getting awfully close to spring in Beechworth, which is both good and bad. It's the start of the new season for our olive trees and it's getting near the end of the growing season for the saffron, that's the good. The bad, I don't think I've start even half my winter farm jobs, let alone finished them. The winter season for saffron is a busy and satisfying time, without the crazy or emotional upheaval of autumn harvest. In winter our saffron grass slowly grows, the longer it gets, the happy the corms! Ideally by this time of year, our saffron corms have long luscious locks of green hair flopping all over the ground. They get fed every few weeks to ensure their happiness and the rest of the time is spent on hands and knees keeping the weeds at bay, which as you can image, in July, in Beechworth, is not a very pleasant activity.
Reducing the competition of weeds is critical to happy corms, and that is basically my job title 'grower of happy corms'. Saffron is an autumn flowering crocus, it is summer dormant, pops it's head up in autumn when the nights start getting cold, but the days are still gorgeous. It teases you with flowers for two weeks, then flushes to the point of making you cry, and then splutters out flowers for another 2 weeks, before running out of steam and starting to grow it's green grass. The transition from growing flowers to growing grass is critical and is the time the corms are at their most vulnerable to pests and diseases. We manage this risk through close monitoring, lots of food, talking to them nicely and stroking their 'hair', which might sound ridiculous, but how their hair feels tells me a lot about how happy and healthy the corms are underground.
At this time of year, it's about getting them ready for their summer dormancy and trying to keep them green and growing for as long as possibly. The difference in size between a corm that has its grass die off in August vs November is astounding and all that energy is being captured ready for release next autumn when the nights get cold.