Sesame is a heat-loving and drought-tolerant plant native to India and North Africa. Because it is frost-sensitive and takes a long growing season, it is best to start seeds indoors about 4-6 weeks before the last frost. Use a heat mat to provide the 70 degree soil temperature that sesame seeds need to germinate, and cover seeds very lightly with growing medium. Expect to see sprouts in 10-14 days. Keep the soil moist during germination and early seedling establishment, then be careful not to over water.
When average outdoor temperatures have reached 70 degrees and danger of frost has passed, transplant your sesame outside. Since sesame doesn't do well with waterlogged soil, try to choose a spot that isn't right next to other plants that need regular watering. Space plants 1-2 feet apart.
Harvest sesame when the seed pods start turning brown and begin to open, by cutting the whole stalks and bringing them indoors to dry. Stand them upright or lay flat to dry, or hang them upside down over a container to catch the seeds that fall out as the pods open. Shake the stalks over a container to get the last seeds out, then remove any small chaff by winnowing. (Pour the seeds from one container into another in front of a fan to blow away the light debris.) Make sure to dry the seeds thoroughly before storing them in an airtight container.
Sesame, Sesamum indicum
Pollination: insect. Life Cycle: annual. Isolation Distance: unknown, estimated 1/2 mile
Sesame is insect-pollinated and crossing will occur between different varieties grown in proximity (for example, a black seeded and a white seeded variety could present cross-pollination concerns). Follow the same instructions for seed harvesting found in the growing information, and take special care to dry the seeds thoroughly and store them in a cool, dark, dry location.