Human Flower Project

Decisions, Decisions…Poppy Seed

Time has come today, a choice between the garden and the kitchen.


Photo: Kolache Depot

Ave Bonar instructed us soon after we moved to Texas that November is the time to plant poppy seed. Sow in the spring if you live up north, but here, poppies need a cooler send off. Aggie horticulturists recommend: “Scatter the seeds over bare soil in full sun in late fall. Dragging a rake over the seed bed will provide adequate preparation for the seed. When seeding a large area, mix the tiny seeds with sand to facilitate even sowing. Keep the seed bed moist. Germination occurs in about a week.”

In years past, we’ve skipped the sand and ended up with a mat of seedlings (and, come spring, a crop of puny blooms). Thinning is recommended.

image‘Dorothy’ Poppy

Photo: D Acres of New Hampshire

We lucked into a double salmon variety of Shirley poppy, what Austinites call Dorothy poppies. They’re named for Dorothy Cavanaugh, a beloved member of the Austin Herb Society, who shared her seeds and plants with everyone in town. Each spring after the poppies have finished blooming, we shake the tiny black seed from the pods into a paper bag, seal them up in an envelope, and hold them over till November.

One spring, neighbor Eugene Kubelka spotted the pods and remembered how his mom, in Waco, would use the seed for her kolaches, a scrumptious and popular Czech pastry.

imageWeighing kolache recipes

Moving image: Texas Monthly

Herein lies the November dilemma. Most poppy seed kolache recipes (here’s a Croatian one) call for at least one cup of poppy seed. But that means foregoing practically a whole yard full of flowers! Is it worth it?

Each person must consult her own appetite, heritage, and soul for answers. As you deliberate, here are several more kolache recipes from Texas Monthly.

Consider: Rose Marie Miller of St. Anthony Croatian Catholic Church—and other cooks too—note that you may substitute cooked fruit or jam for poppy seed filling. Can anything substitute for blooming poppies in spring?

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