Nigella, or chernushka sowing (Nigella sativa L.) (popularly - black cumin, Roman coriander, a girl in greenery, hair of Venus) is an annual herb, a distant relative of the buttercup, widely grown as a valuable spice plant in the Mediterranean and Middle East, and in Russia, mainly as a flower culture, especially after the appearance of semi-double varieties.
There are more than 20 types of nigella. Among them, the most common Nigella Damascus, Spanish, Eastern, ferruginous, sowing, plowed, etc. All these species are excellent honey plants, bloom in late July and bloom until frost.
The stem of this plant is erect, branched, up to 50 cm high. The leaves are openwork, repeatedly dissected into threadlike, long, diverging lobules. Shoots end with relatively large, almost horizontal flowers.
The flowers are solitary, relatively large, simple or double, blue, blue, purple or white. The upper leaves are gathered under the flower and form a green boa, for which the people called her “the girl in the green”.
Nigella attracts bees well. It is widely used as an ornamental culture in flower beds. And gardeners grow nigella because of the seeds that have a pungent peppery taste and a spicy nutmeg aroma.
Nigella is a light-loving and relatively cold-resistant plant, tolerates short spring frosts well, prefers bright sunny areas protected from the prevailing winds.
After sowing the seeds, the soil must be rolled up, and then it is advisable to cover it with a film until shoots appear.
Seeds begin to germinate at a temperature of 3-5 ° C, and the optimum temperature for growth is 15-18 ° C. Seedlings appear in 10-12 days. It grows slowly at first. Its leaves are similar to the leaves of dill, but differ in a grayish-green tint. Young plants easily tolerate small spring frosts. Nigella blooms 60–65 days after germination.
It is undemanding to soils, but to obtain a high yield, only soils fertilized with organic soil fertilizers under the predecessor are needed. It is not worth adding organic matter directly under the nigella, because this will slow down the maturation of the seeds.
Sowing seeds is carried out as early as possible in the spring, as soon as the soil allows, because the duration of the growing season for a plant is 140–150 days. Seeds are sown in grooves to a depth of 3-4 cm with row spacing up to 45 cm and with a distance between plants after thinning of 15-20 cm.
Nigella care consists in weeding, loosening the soil, watering and double thinning of crops in the phase of 2-3 true leaves and after 12-15 days. This culture does not tolerate excess fertilizers, especially nitrogen fertilizers. At the same time, the vegetative mass grows intensively, the flowering of plants is delayed.
Seeds are harvested when at least half of the seeds are ripe. The plant is cut with a stem 20–30 cm high, dried and threshed, separating the seeds by winding or sieve.
For flower decoration, nigella is planted on ridges and lawns in large arrays and quite densely. It is there that she is especially attractive throughout the summer. In single landings, it is less attractive. Do not plant it near strongly growing ground cover plants (periwinkle, geranium). It blooms much better in well-lit areas. Cut nigella flowers are stored for a long time in water or in a nutrient solution.
Testes for winter compositions are prepared when its bolls reach their maximum size, they will be brightly colored, but have not yet begun to dry out. The cut plants are tied in bunches and dried in a shaded place, since green leaves and stems turn yellow when dried in the sun.
Nigella seeds are considered a spice and can replace pepper. They taste slightly pungent, oily, reminiscent of peppers with a nutty flavor. Nigella seeds have a very pleasant and very subtle strawberry smell, with a peppery-musky hue. So that this spice does not lose its unique aroma, nigella seeds are usually ground in a spoon just before use and added to meat or fish, sprinkled with pastries, crumpets, pretzels. This powder is also added to jelly, mousse and jelly, and various drinks are flavored with it. Nigella seeds are used as a seasoning for main dishes and salads, added to the dough, used for sauerkraut, as well as for pickling cucumbers, tomatoes and other vegetables. Real gourmets make unusual gooseberry jam with nigella flowers, it has a wonderful smell of fresh strawberries.
India is considered to be the main world producer of this spice. And this is no coincidence, because nigella - her Indian name kalindzhi - is one of the five most popular spices in Indian cuisine.
And also Nigella seeds are an excellent remedy for moths, well protecting clothes from it.
"Ural gardener" No. 48 - 2014