Prepare the Soil
To grow cumin outdoors, select a garden site that receives five to six hours of sun each day and has rich, well-draining soil that holds moisture but doesn’t allow water to stand. If your garden soil is less than desirable, you can fix that by applying 2 to 3 inches of compost and working it into the existing top 6 inches of soil. This not only improves drainage, but the compost reduces the need to fertilize.
Sowing Seeds Outdoors
If you live in an area with a summer growing season of four months or more, grow cumin by directly sowing seed into the garden. Sow the seeds 1/4 inch deep in rows 2 feet apart in spring once the soil temperature has reached 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Water the seeds right away, then continue watering daily with enough water to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. Seeds will sprout in one to two weeks. When seeds sprout and seedlings reach 1 inch tall, thin them so plants are spaced 4 to 6 inches apart. Ongoing cumin needs 1/2 inch of water every 3 to 4 days either via rain or supplemental irrigation so the soil is moist, and not allowed to dry out. Keep the area free from weeds to reduce competition for nutrients.
Get a Head Start Indoors
You can get a jump start on growing cumin by sowing seeds in pots four weeks before the last frost. Cumin doesn’t always survive when transplanted, so use biodegradable plant pots to minimize root disturbance and increase its success. Fill pots with seed starting mix, available at garden supply stores, to within ¼ inch of the top, then sow two cumin seeds per pot and cover with 1/4 inch of soil. Place pots by a brightly lit window, water the seeds and keep them moist until they sprout. When seedlings reach 2 inches tall, thin each pot to one plant. When the minimum outside temperature reaches 60 degrees Fahrenheit at night, acclimate the plants to the outdoors by placing them outside each day in a shady area for about two hours. Increase the amount of time by one hour each day and move them to where they receive increasing amounts of light. After one week, plant the pots into the ground at the same depth as the pot, and 4 inches apart.
Supplement With Fertilizer
Once seeds have sprouted and are 2 inches tall, or seedlings have been transplanted into the garden, fertilize them with a general purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer diluted at half strength. For example, if the label of a liquid fertilizer recommends mixing 1 tablespoon of fertilizer to 1 gallon of water, then mix 1/2 tablespoon of fertilizer to 1 gallon of water. Cumin does not require a lot of fertilizer, especially if grown in rich soil, so fertilize once every three to four weeks throughout the growing season, more often if the foliage becomes pale.