Friday, June 27, 2014

Growing Cilantro

I love cilantro and would like to learn new ways to cook with it. My first step though is to be better at growing it. The last few years I've thrown some seeds in a pot now and then and I've discovered that cilantro isn't at all like, basil, oregano, thyme, or a number of other herbs. Cilantro likes to bolt and there isn't much you can do about it.

With a lovely sunroom, I'm determined to keep herbs going this time instead of having most of them die in the middle of the winter because our house doesn't have enough sunlight. My other option was to put them under grow lights in the room with the coal stove in the basement but then they'd roast to death and the cilantro wouldn't grow there anyway.

To do a better job of growing cilantro in particular I did a little research. Sure enough, cilantro does not like hot weather. I'm sure if it saw the forecast for 90 degrees they are predicting for the fourth of July it would be bolting in a hurry. Oh wait, it already is. I'm not feeling so bad though because cilantro has a short life anyway even under ideal growing conditions. I've learned that the hard way and it was reaffirmed in my research.

That means you need to keep a steady supply of new plants going. One site recommends every 6 weeks and others every 3. I can't tell you what works best for I haven't been a good girl about keeping my going. Presently I have a bolting plant and I'm not sure it is a good idea to start more since we are suppose to warm up though you wouldn't know it by today which is to reach a balmy 64 F. or so. As for the cilantro that is bolting I'm letting it. Cilantro produces coriander seeds. Never cooked with those but it is about time to start. Besides isn't growing my own seeds my goal this year anyway? I did it once with basil, let it go to seed then planted the seed. That was last year and you know that I didn't keep it going as we were in the muddled mess of finding a house and moving.

Cilantro likes lots of hair cuts or foliage cuts shall we say. The top third is recommended. This usually equates to two cuttings before it bolts. Definitely no basil or oregano but it doesn't taste like them either. The research recommends planting tightly. That would help keep it cool. I talked to a gal Wednesday and she says she puts hers in the shade outside, good suggestion only right now I'm not growing outside herbs. I've got a long heavy wood box I'm planning on working on later this summer and it will be by herb box. My neighbor has volunteered to give me some mint and your know how mint likes to wander so it will go in the box this fall.

I'm off topic here. We were talking about cilantro. It is not the heat of the air that causes cilantro to bolt, but rather the heat of the soil. That is probably why the shady location in the yard would work pretty good. You should also mulch the soil to keep it cooler. Maybe it needs a good ice pack in the summer, I don't know but even if I get cilantro in the spring, fall, and winter, that would be alright. I'll just have to save the seeds to start them again in September.

As for trying to stop a bolt, this is what one internet site had to say, "Many gardeners wonder what to do when cilantro bolts. When they see the white cilantro flowers, they wonder if they can simply cut them off. Unfortunately, once cilantro bolts, the leaves rapidly lose their flavor. Cutting the cilantro flowers off will not bring the flavor back to the leaves."

I also learned a new trick with planting the seeds. Sometimes I'm rather disappointed in the germination and now I know why. Cilantro seeds are actually two seeds inside a hard husk. To increase the chance of germination you should gently crush the husk and soak the seeds for 24 to 48 hours. Then you air dry the seeds and plant.  But why would that say that? Why would you soak the seeds and then air dry them when you are just going to put them in the soil and keep them wet? That just doesn't make sense to me so the rebel that I am, I'm going to simply skip that step and see what happens -- in September that is. Meanwhile today I think I'll get caught up on some house work since it is to rain once more. We had a real gulley washer last night. It was cool. We could see lighting backlighting the mountains and then this sheet of gray moving our way. When it hit us it poured rain in bucket loads. It passed over and there was quite a lighting storm to our east. With the sunset in the west and a rainbow in the east it was quite a lovely site to end a long day of working at the other house. This owning two homes is for the birds I tell you. Four hours of travel alone between them makes it a challenge. We brought home our last trailer load yesterday and we have just a few little items there that we are using to do touch up work on the house. Can't wait until we are done and it is sold. I'm so...... in love with where we have moved.

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