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Kalonji (Black Seed/Nigella)

Nigella sativa

Grown by: Kula Nursery in Petaluma, CA

  • $5.00

Kalonji, also known as Black Cumin, Black Seed, and Nigella is a highly medicinal spice used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisine. In the Tibb-e-Nabwi, the Muslim medicinal guide, 7 Nigella seeds a day is said to be the cure for all diseases except death. The seeds are also delicious when used on naan, curries, roasted vegetables or pickles. The plant resembles the common garden flower, Love-in-a-mist, with delicate fennel like foliage and stands 10-12" tall. During peak bloom the plant sends out dozens of five or six petaled white flowers that are highly attractive to bees. Over the course of a week, the seed pod slowly begins to balloon up and develop as it is pollinated. It is a lovely sight and a wonderful activity to sit in the garden and watch as the bees are hard at work!

Days to maturity: 60 days to peak bloom. 80 days to dry seed pod.

Seeds per pack: 90-95

Germination rate: 81% on 02/21/2024

Planting / harvesting notes

We have found that these seeds do not transplant well. To plant, simply sprinkle seeds on top of soil surface and scratch seeds in or gently use a rake to bury seeds slightly. Plants do not need to be accurately spaced but aim for 2-4" between plants. No thinning is required. For best results, it's best to wait until the weather has warmed and the last chance of frost is long gone. Keep soil moist until first signs of germination. If hand watering, be careful not to drown seeds while watering. It can be helpful to cover seeds with floating row cover or cardboard for the first week to help keep the soil surface moist. Seeds should germinate in 7-10 days.

Flowers can be harvested for fresh flower bouquets. At full maturity, the seeds pods will turn brown and become papery. The plants can be used at this stage in dried flower bouquets.

Seed keeping notes

Seeds are fully mature once the seed pod has turned brown and papery. If growing for the spice or seed saving, the seeds can be extracted by opening up the papery seed pod. Dozens of seeds will be in each seed pod. Collect all the seed pods and crush them by either stepping on them on top of a tarp or by crushing them with your hands. Seeds can be separated from the chaff with a fan.

If you live in an area with a short growing season and the pods have not had enough time to fully develop, you can harvest each plant by cutting the stems at soil level and placing them in a large paper bag. Avoid getting any water or soil in the paper bag. Pods will continue to develop over the course of a month. Make sure to keep the bag in a dry and warm location. Check on the bag every week to make sure they are drying properly. Seeds will be fully mature once the pod has dried fully.


This product is part of the Seeds of the Levant.

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