Monday, July 06, 2009

Gone To Seed

One year we planted coriander in our vegetable garden. We love the leaves, called cilantro in the US, for Asian and Mexican dishes. It grew great, but we quickly discovered the problem with this tasty herb: it goes to seed very, very quickly.

Our garden coriander is already in flower.

As the plant prepares to flower, the leaves it grows become very narrow and they loose some of the characteristic pungent flavor that the lower, broader leaves have.

The trick, therefore, is to plant successive crops, so that there is always some fresh coriander coming up. Of course, I haven't gotten it together to do this and I'm still relying on the volunteers that pop up in the garden every year from the previous year's seeds.

And they pop up in between the other vegetables that I'm growing. So this year I'm trying to pull out some of the coriander before it sets seed. I'll let some plants form seeds, but collect them rather than let them fall back into the garden. Then I'll plant them next year, hopefully using the successive planting strategy to ensure a longer, more useful harvest.

The best laid plans...

8 comments:

  1. Some of the top gardeners in Australia put their heads together about this same problem and came up with the same answer...successive planting....just mark it on your calender and off you go.

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  2. The same thing happened to me last year. I didn't try it again!

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  3. Yes, as far as I know there is no reliable way to stop coriander going to seed. Some varieties are supposedly better than others, but I don't think it makes that much difference going to the trouble of getting them.

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  4. True that. We made a great cilantro mint chutney this year when we got a ton at once. Here's what I followed:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IZFNI1rGrE

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  5. I admire your gardening skills. I wish i had the ambition and the where=with-all to grow my own herbs.

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  6. When it looks like flowering, try picking the top shoots off, that should keep it in check for a little. Once they've decided to go it's hard to hold them back though. Have you cooked with the stems? They are used a lot in many Thai dishes and give a wonderful flavour.
    Sue

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  7. i love cilantro and salsa and this is always a problem around here...when the cilantro's at its peak, the tomatoes are no where near ready to pick.

    i just harvest the cilantro when it's lush, chop it and freeze it. i've put it in ice cube trays with water and in bags or jars as is. then, when the tomatoes are coming out my ears, i pull it out and go to town making salsa!

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  8. abbeysmum, that's what I'll do for next year!

    amy, don't give up! I know, you have nothing but free time what with husband, writing, and two little ones... ;)

    susan, I tend to agree.

    ginny, oh, thanks! We also have a bunch of mint growing.

    starman, herbs are not all that hard. Especially the perennials like thyme and rosemary.

    sue, I've tried that, but I can't keep up! And thanks for the tip about the stems.

    tansy, that's a very good idea.

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