When I put two cilantro plants in the ground in late March (the above picture is from planting day), I had high hopes for this herb. I love cilantro, and use it just as often as I use basil. It goes in every Mexican dish I make, plus lots of Asian-style dishes, too.
Of course, like many plants in my garden this year, things didn’t go exactly as planned. I bought seedlings, something one of my gardening books cautioned against. “Cilantro is best grown from seed because a maturing plant forms a significant taproot that doesn’t like to be transplanted,” I was told.
I took the shortcut, planted two seedlings, and got two cilantro plants with incredibly short growing periods before they started sprouting and going to seed. I harvested one measly bunch of cilantro leaves before new leaves simply stopped growing.
In hindsight, I should have planted directly from seeds, and I should have planted more than just two. I expected the plants to grow much larger than they did, so I was over-cautious in my space appropriation. When I saw the two cilantro plants starting to sprout and go to seed, however, I decided to take advantage of my situation. Instead of disposing of the plants, I was going to let them sprout, flower, make seeds, and then harvest those seeds. I didn’t expect to wait three months for the process to be complete.
The cilantro plants started sprouting in May.
A month later the plants had started flowering …
… And seed pods had started to form.
It would be another six weeks before the whole plant had finished flowering and the pods were dry enough to cut and harvest.
Cilantro seeds are called coriander; a popular spice. I’ll be saving about half the seeds to grind and use as a seasoning, and I’m planting the other half. I’ll get something out of those two cilantro plants yet, even if it takes five months from when I originally planted them. Plus, I’ve already learned a lot.