Cumin is used in nearly all cuisines of the world. It is commercially grown in North Africa and West Asia, but if it’s given a head start and a warm summer, it will be productive in gardens as cool as Zone 4. Before it produces its strongly aromatic seeds, its flowers will attract a host of beneficial insect predators that will help to control garden pests. Find out more about how to grow cumin from seed in the guide that follows.
Season & Zone
Season: Warm season
Exposure: Full sun
Cumin needs a long hot season to produce seeds. Start indoors four weeks before the last frost date, and transplant outside once temperatures are steadily above 15°C (60°F). Ideal temperature for germination: 18°C (65°F). Seeds should sprout in 7-14 days.
Sow 5mm (¼”) deep. Transplant at a spacing of 10cm (4″).
Cumin needs approximately 120 days to maturity from the sowing date to produce viable seeds. It is an annual member of the carrot family, and produces umbelliferous flowers that are highly attractive to beneficial garden insect predators. Flowering begins mid-summer.
Cut the seed heads to dry indoors as late in the season as possible, or as soon as seeds can be seen to fall from the seed head.
Usual seed life: 2 years.
As an umbelifer, cumin produces shallow flowers that are arranged in an umbel. All umbelifers are natrually attractive to predatory insects such as lacewings, ladybird beetles, and parasitoid wasps. Plant near any crop that normally attracts caterpillars or aphids.
More on Companion Planting.