Did you ever try growing cilantro, only to have it bolt quickly to seed? After all, the rap on cilantro is: “It just bolts.”
So what! I say, let it bolt. Cilantro is a great friend in my garden because I have let it do its own thing for several years in a row now, and the more I learn about its charms and its quirks, the better I like having this plant close to my kitchen door.
After all, fresh cilantro leaves are so tender and full of flavor. They add so much to many types of international cuisine. The flavor is more nuanced than parsley, and not to everyone’s liking. But if you like it, you love it and usually can’t get enough.
Cilantro: Easy to Grow
Cilantro is very easy to grow in the garden. Sow the seeds directly in sunny, fertile soil and let it go. The plant germinates quickly and puts on nice leaf growth within a month.
And yes, if grown in hot weather, cilantro will bolt very fast and you might think that’s the end of the story. Cilantro grown for leaf will last the longest if sown in cool weather, and will last especially long if sown in late summer or early fall. Mine goes right through the winter — it’s that tough. And I have a new crop sprouting all by itself as soon as March rolls around.
Cilantro Flowers & Seeds
But I have grown to rely on the second part of the story. When cilantro bolts it puts out a proliferation of lovely, lacy white flowers. These are nice as ornamentals, and if broadcast in a flower bed will make an excellent filler. Pollinating insects like it.
Now here’s the best part of bolting cilantro. Once it sets its small round seeds, keep an eye open and harvest the seed heads as they start to dry out. Don’t let them burst and spread out in the garden. Instead, dry they seeds on newspaper in a dry spot indoors, or give them a little time in a dehydrator.
The seeds are now called coriander, and are the spice used for many different dishes. By collecting the seeds each fall, and drying t hem so they don’t get musty, I have a year’s worth of coriander seed to use for cooking. Wonderfully fragrant, it’s homegrown and organic.
So give cilantro a try. Sow True Seed offers a regular cilantro and a slow-bolting variety. To me they are both great.
Written by Sow True Garden Ambassador, Nan Chase
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