Caraway is a biennial herb that grows best in cool weather. Sow caraway in spring or autumn. Caraway can be sown in spring as early as the soil can be worked, about the date of the average last frost. Caraway can be sown indoors earlier for transplanting out or start new plants from cuttings taken from new growth in summer or fall.
Description. Caraway is a biennial herb that grows from 12 to 24 inches tall. It has bright green, finely cut leaves that grow in a short rosette from an edible taproot similar to parsnip. Caraway flowers on 2-foot stems in its second year producing umbrella-like clusters of white and pink flowers. Seeds ripen about a month after flowering just before the plant dies.
Yield. Grow one caraway plant per household.
Site. Plant caraway in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade. Caraway grows best in well-drained sandy soil. It prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
Planting time. Sow caraway in spring or autumn. Sow caraway in spring as early as the soil can be worked, about the date of the average last frost. For an early start, sow caraway indoors in biodegradable peat pots 3 to 4 weeks before the average last frost for transplanting out both pot and plant later. Caraway can also be started from seed in fall for early spring plants. Caraway does not easily transplant because it forms a taproot. Caraway also can be started from cuttings of new growth taken in summer or fall. It easily reseeds itself.
Planting and spacing. Sow caraway seed ¼ inch deep; thin successful plants from 12 to 18 inches apart. Space rows 18 to 24 inches apart. Caraway will reseed itself easily in most areas.
Water and feeding. Caraway requires regular, even watering until established. Do not allow seedlings to dry out. Once established caraway can dry out between watering. Add aged compost to planting beds in advance of planting. Give caraway a side dressing of aged compost at midseason.
Companion plants. Grows well with most vegetables.
Care. In cold-winter regions, caraway may need winter protection in order to produce flowers and seeds the second year. Pinch away flowers in the second year, and caraway will grow for another season.
Container growing. Caraway has a taproot and does not grow very well in a container. Select a container at least 8 inches deep.
Pests. Caraway is a member of the parsley family and may be attacked by parsley caterpillar. Handpick caterpillars off the plant.
Diseases. Caraway has no serious disease problems.
Harvest. Snip leaves from spring onward the first year for fresh use. Harvest seeds the second year after flowering. Allow seeds to dry out and turn brown and drop to a paper below for collection or snip off seed heads when they begin to turn brown, place them in a paper bag to dry, and then thresh seeds when they are loose. Complete the harvest before the frost.
Storing and preserving. Caraway leaves are best used fresh; but they can be stored in the refrigerator for a few weeks in a plastic bag. Dry seeds can be stored for several months in an airtight container.
Common name. Caraway
Botanical name. Carum carvi
Easy grow herbs: THE KITCHEN GARDEN GROWERS’ GUIDE