I forgot to plant cilantro, but mother natures got my back

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Being busy with work and a new baby at home, I completely forgot to plant my cilantro.  Though I got a little surprise when I pulled back the shredded leaves I used on my beds…I nice blanket of cilantro seedlings, almost like mother nature knew I was going to be lacking focus this season.

I was pretty good about picking my cilantro (or coriander at this point) at the end of the season a little prior to the flowers were completely dried out to allow for crop rotation.  Crop rotation is the process of moving species of plants to alternate locations to prevent build-up of specie specific diseases, fungi, or miscellaneous annoying pests.  By not planting the same plants in the location for a couple years this causes these undesirables to die off making it safer to plant at that location on the third year.

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In the previous years I have been lazy and just let the plants self seed but after 3 years probably a good idea to move things around…oh well maybe next year.

Earth Day in the garden

I decided to take the day off to catch up on some things at home and as I ended up outside of course I went right to the garden. 

We have seen a few warm days here in the Northwest and in my area we haven’t dipped under 40 degrees at night so seemed like a good time to plant a few of my tomatoes spending their time this winter in the grow box.

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Above are a New Yorker and Persey both of which are new for me this year.  They have been growing great even with my neglect during their youth.  I also have some Green Zebras, Husky Cherry, Sweetie Cherry, and Yellow Cherry.  I did attempt Red Brandywine but the seeds I got appear to be duds.

Given it is always good to have a Plan B so I have twins of these tomato plants still in puts which I can bring if a cold snap comes and kills off the plants I ambitiously planted in the ground.

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Elsewhere in the garden I have some herbs: Parsley and Oregano, with Basil being an unfortunately casualty which I will plan on buying from the store and try again next year.

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Next I checked out my larger garden bed to see my peas, cilantro, onions, carrots, lettuce, strawberries and garlic

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Lastly I checked out the peppers in the grow box which they will stay until we have some warmer nights (at least 50 degrees) otherwise can cause significant stunting of growth.  So until then they will remain happy in the grow box and given they are still pretty small, still plenty of room to grow…

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How to save coriander/cilantro seeds from your garden

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Cilantro (at least that is what we call the plant in the United States) and the seed coriander as it is know to the rest of the world is the first plant I ever collected seeds from.

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What I like about cilantro/coriander is that its flowers actually grow great and the bees seem to like them.  As an added bonus the collection of seeds really couldn’t be easier.  Like other plants I collect seeds on I let them mature as much as possible outdoors on their own and bring them indoors when the heavy rains come.

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I give them a little extra time to dry by hanging the bunches upside down in my garage until I get around to the harvest.

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To harvest simply find these flower shaped clusters of seeds and pull down to release the seeds and add to your awaiting container.  If you don’t care as much how clean your seed collection is you can also run run hands down the whole plant from bottom to top.  While this will drop many leaves in your collection, this is definitely the way to quickly harvest a large number of seeds.

Garden Salsa recipe

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Big moment this week, I was able to make salsa entirely from ingredients.  I normally don’t use cherry/grape tomatoes for salsa but my Early Girls are not that early this year and have not quite turned red. 

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CVG Garden Salsa Recipe
  • 2-3 tomatoes (or 12-15 cherry/grape tomatoes)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 small onion
  • green onion
  • 5 sprigs of cilantro
  • tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 jalapeno pepper (seeded)
  • sugar

Directions:  Coarsely chop tomatoes (removing seeds, though if I few sneak in it is not a big deal), onion, and green onions and add to bowl.  Finely chop garlic, cilantro, and seeded jalapeno pepper and add to mixture.  Add vinegar to bowl and mix thoroughly.  Let sit for 10 minutes and add sugar until salsa does not have a spicy aftertaste (normally 1-2 teaspoons)  If you like the spice skip the sugar and include seeds from the jalapeno.

How to freeze herbs

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One of my goals in my garden is to make salsa entirely from ingredients from my own garden.  In the past I have come close only requiring the purchase of a couple jalapeño peppers from the grocery store but this year with much effort and a strangely hot summer for the Pacific Northwest I have all the ingredients growing in my garden.  Though unfortunately the ingredient cilantro could be my elusive ingredient since hot weather means great growth then subsequent bolting.  My solution to this problem is successive planting and freezing herbs.

Now drying is also a viable option though I prefer freezing since many moist herbs can lead to mildew without the right equipment to dry efficiently.  Frozen herbs also maintain the same potency for several months in the freezer as fresh so no guessing on measurements of your frozen herbs.

There are actually a few different methods for freezing herbs, each of which depends on how you plan on using them later.

The first method is great for keeping the herbs texture and flavor intact.  The process is nearly identical to that of freezing berries.

Flash freezing herbs

  1. Pick the best freshest herbs you can find
  2. Wash and pat herbs dry
  3. Lay on layer of wax/parchment paper on cookie sheet
  4. Freeze overnight
  5. Place leaves in freezer bag(s), using a straw to suck out excess air

If you are planning on using your herbs in soups or stews, I would definitely recommend the ice cube method.

Ice cube tray method

  1. Pick the best freshest herbs you can find
  2. Wash and pat herbs dry
  3. Hand chop (or use food processor) leaves
  4. Put chopped pieces into ice cube trays and fill with water of stock
  5. Freeze overnight
  6. Place cubes in freezer bag(s), using a straw to suck out excess air.  You may also put the trays right into the freezer bag sucking out the air if you wish.

Note: Also try mint with a little extra water to add to drinks during the summer (or winter)

Now if you are planning on using your herbs for dishes that require oil such as Pesto with your Basil.  This is a great time to do a little up front preparation.

Ice cube tray method (with oil)

  1. Pick the best freshest herbs you can find
  2. Wash and pat herbs dry
  3. Add 1/3 cup of oil for each 2 cubs of herbs to food processor or blender
  4. Put chopped pieces into ice cube trays
  5. Freeze overnight
  6. Place cubes in freezer bag(s), using a straw to suck out excess air.  You may also put the trays right into the freezer bag sucking out the air if you wish.

Now in a few months you can add some parmesan and have some previously frozen pesto in the middle of winter.

Growing in dirt outside

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I haven’t done many posts in a while about regular old gardening in actual dirt so figured a good time to do an update.  Though I enjoy indoor seed starting in my LED grow box and computerized grow box, some plants need to be started outdoors.  Today my daughters and I planted the last these plants for fall outdoor planting. 

A few weeks ago, we planted garlic, onions, spinach, and peas which are doing well.  I love growing these plants no matter how late your spring comes these plants are hardy they are pretty hard to kill off.

Today we planted carrots, lettuce, and cilantro leaving a little space left to do some successive cilantro planting in a couple weeks to ensure I have enough for salsa by the time the tomatoes are ready this summer.

Speaking of tomatoes, they along with jalapeño peppers, and cucumbers (actually flowering) are doing great in the computerized grow box.  In the LED grow box I have pumpkin, Black Eyed Susan, small sunflowers, and Purple Coneflowers using Grodan Gro-Blocks.

Nice to finally see some stuff in the ground though still hoping the weather gets better before my cucumbers try to escape the grow box.

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