Posts tagged ‘cilantro’
Sometimes, despite a gardener’s best efforts, the ideal harvest window on a particular vegetable or fruit is missed. This can lead to oversized fruit, overripe fruit, damage from pests, or even theft. In some cases the veggie can be saved for seeds but sometimes it is just a loss. In the case of squash you can save the seeds, but because of the nature of hybrid seeds, and the genetics of the cucurbita genus, there is no guarantee you will get the same type of squash next year. The cabbage will be edible, but less tender and sweet than if it were small. The corianed/cilantro seeds can be collected and used for planting or as a spice.
Cilantro is planted in almost every parcel in the garden. It can be seen growing tall in rows and solitary bunches. In some places it crouches at the base of cornstalks, or sneaks between the cabbage leaves. When planted in a row, a gardener can harvest the cilantro as needed for a few months. In order to ensure a steady supply of the tasty little green ruffled leaves; most gardeners sow cilantro seeds every 1 to 2 months. If the plants are left until they seed and dry, the seeds can be collected. Use the seeds to plant more cilantro, ore use them in cooking.
Today there was much harvesting to do in the Beach Flats Garden. The squash have been growing in the heat of the sun, getting sweet and tender to please the gardener’s tastebuds. We harvested two for ourselves, but at least a dozen more tasty specimens were hiding under the broad pointed squash leaves. The first cabbage was ready today; a large light green head was harvested. This cabbage will last for several weeks in the fridge, giving a sweet fresh crunch to tacos, salads, soups and sandwiches.
The main harvesting task was the herbs. We have a long row of oregano, thyme, mint, and tarragon on the east side of our parcel. These herbs form an aromatic hedge that is abundantly delicious. They have been growing feverishly all spring, and now the long sprigs of oregano and thyme need to be harvested. the oregano is growing secondary stems and and the thyme is starting to flower. We cut them down to the base with garden clippers, leaving a little bit of of the plant to grow back for the next round of harvesting.
Cilantro is an annual herb used around the world to enliven meals with a fresh herby zing. A common ingredient in salsa, soup, salad and chutney; the fresh or dried leaves are used by chefs in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, and the Americas. The seeds are a spice known as coriander; which is as widely used as the leaves. The difference between an herb and a spice is what part of the plant is being used. A spice is a seed, stem, bark or other hard part of the plant while herbs are the leaves, flowers and soft parts of the plant. In the case of the cilantro plant; the leaves are an herb, and the seeds are a spice
In the Beach Flats Garden cilantro can be found in almost every plot; it even grows wild sometimes. Most of the gardeners plant it in rows 2-4 inches wide, with the seeds densely sown to create a hedge of cilantro that blocks out competing weeds. It is harvested as needed, by pulling it up from the roots. To use the herbs, we first wash them, then remove the stems and save the leaves. The leaves are finely chopped and used in almost every meal. In the fall the cilantro goes to seed, and the gardeners dry and save the seeds for next year. Some gardeners winter crop the cilantro also, for a year round harvest.
When I have excess fresh herbs from my garden, I like to dry them and save them for the winter. Harvesting is the first step in the process, much time can be saved by using appropriate techniques. The best time to harvest most herbs is when the herbs have long stems with lots of large developed leaves on them. The longer the stem, generally the easier it is to remove the leaves from the stem once dried. It is important to harvest before the main stem starts growing smaller stems; the extra stems are harder to remove. Remove distressed leaves while harvesting to save work later.
As soon as possible after harvesting, rinse the herbs under running cold water. A quick pre-soak will clean up more dusty herbs very nicely. To be extra green, save the wash water to use for irrigating later. Give your herbs a good shake and then arrange them in a colander, or drying rack with lots of room for air flow. In a few hours when your herbs are completely free of the rinse water, arrange them into bundles and tie them with string or ribbons. As the herbs dry you may have to retie them to keep the bundle together. Hang these bundles in a cool dry dust-free place for a few days or weeks until the leaves are dry and fall off easily.
To remove the leaves, hold the herbs over a large cookie sheet or baking dish with a lip. Grab the stem of the herb with one hand and with the other, pinch the stem and slide your fingers down to the other end. The leaves should fall right off. As you work, pick out any stems that make it into the cookie sheet. When you are finished, put the leaves in a jar and label it. These little herb jars make great gifts.
Many annual vegetable plants, especially greens will go to seed after their productive life-cycle is over. When this happens, the plant decides it is time to stop producing tasty food, and instead produce seeds so that it can carry on its genetics. The precursor to seeds is flowers; soon after the formation of flowers your plant will develop seeds. Unless you have a plant that is supposed to be eaten at this stage ( i.e. broccoli raab ) it is best to harvest your plant before it starts flowering. Before your plant flowers it will start to send up shoots or grow tall quickly, these stalks will elevate these flowers to make them easily accessible to the appropriate pollinators. Often, a sudden increase in temperature can cause your plants to flower, because they may think the season is ending. If you winter cropped greens, they will probably go to seed in the spring when the weather warms up. Annual herbs like cilantro, basil, and parsley will go to seed if they are not harvested in time.
You will notice that many plants look like broccoli when they flower, this is because these plants are a member of the genus brassica. You may not know brassicas by name, but they probably make up a big part of your diet. The following plants are memebrs of the brassica family: cabbage, mustard, canola, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, turnips and more.
While I took a break from writing last week, you know we still worked in the garden! We started harvesting last week. Also, we cleaned and started planting this week.
So far the harvest includes: fava beans, a neighbor’s purple lettuce, Greek oregano, Italian oregano, two types of mint, and our first sprigs of lemon verbena. The lemon verbena shouts out to our people in Argentina. Lemon verbena grows wild in that part of the world.
We added broccolli and cabbage between our directly sewed summer squash. We have many broccollis and cabbages in the front half of our parcel. So far we sewed three scallop, also called patty pan and sunburst, squash. We directly sewed the following winter squash: delicata honey boat, table king acorn, waltham butternut, and burgess buttercup.
Over the years I have learned that one squash plant usually yields adequate fruit for one family. With so many squash plants we will have enough squash for 6-8 families in our community. The squash plants bear fruit between July and September
We also added a row of oregano and time on the west border of our parcel. We use herbs to protect our plants. The herbs block harmful insects and other pests. Right next to these herbs I sewed Italian parsley, Garden cilantro, and romaine lettuce. These will be wonderful salads very soon!
Today we did that hard labor for our summer, fall, and winter food. The olive tree grows,the doves fly, the sea gulls chatter and all the other birds sing. This fills me with happiness and hope.