Poppy Seeds

Poppy seeds add crunch and flavor to many types of baked goods. These tiny flavorful seeds come from the beautiful poppy flower, Papever somniferum. There are plenty of other gorgeous poppy species that thrive in a variety of conditions. Saving poppy seeds will help perpetuate the colorful plants for years to come. It is a rather fun project, too, as you wait until the large pod starts to rattle. This indicates it is almost time for a poppy seed harvest, either for culinary use or just to continue the plants into the next year.

Who among us hasn’t had a wonderful lemon or almond poppy seed muffin? The delicate seeds impart a rich flavor and gentle crunch that adds unique dimension to baked goods. Poppies have a bad reputation as part of the opium trade, but for gardeners, they are simply lovely papery blooms in brilliant colors. These easy-to-grow plants are also simple to propagate from seed.

Poppies generally flower in late spring to early summer. They thrive in full sun in rich, well-drained soil. Once the delicate petals begin to drop, the ovary develops into the plant’s fruit, a chubby seed pod. This pod contains hundreds of tiny black seeds, which are edible in some species.

Pods are green when young and yielding. When weather is dry near the end of the growing season, pods begin to turn brown and develop a hard carapace. This will eventually crack open, releasing the small seed. You must wait until pods are fully dry for a poppy seed harvest. Harvesting poppy seeds too early may affect their viability and ability to germinate.

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