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Monday, June 30, 2008

Harvesting Cilantro Seeds

I just harvested coriander from my cilantro plant. I was pleasantly surprised by the abundant supply of coriander my small cilantro plant produced. "Cilantro" is an annual herb. The tender aromatic leaves are often used in the last stages of Mexican and Asian cooking. "Coriander" is the cilantro seed and it is also used in cooking. For example, I use ground coriander to flavor my meats and stews. I plan on using the bulk of my cilantro seeds for culinary purposes, but I will save a few to grow some more cilantro.

How to Harvest Coriander:
Harvesting coriander is simple and effortless. Your cilantro plant will eventually produce tiny white flowers with lavender accents (See Figure B below).

Once these flowers are pollinated, they will produce seeds (i.e., coriander) in its place (See Figure C below). Small flowers normally do not need help pollinating. However, if you are growing cilantro indoors, you will want to gently shake the cilantro plant or place it in a windy area to assist pollination. This will help the plant produce higher yields of coriander.

It took two to three weeks for my cilantro seeds to fully mature. You will want to pick the cilantro seeds when they are ripe. Cilantro seeds are ripe when the seeds are just starting to turn brown (See Figure C). Snip off the stems of plant, and place it in a paper bag. Allow the seeds to dry in a cool, dark place. After the seeds have dried out, collect the seeds and store them in a glass jar or other airtight container until you are ready to use them.

Figure A
Young Cilantro Plant

Figure B
Blooming Cilantro Flowers

Figure C
The round balls are cilantro seeds a.k.a. coriander

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More Trash into Treasure: Diluted Brewed Coffee Fertilizer

I rarely drink coffee, but when I do I tend to make too much. I did a little research to find out what I could do with my left over coffee, and I learned you can turn brewed coffee into a fast-acting fertilizer by diluting the coffee with water.

The sites I visited suggested diluting the brewed coffee down to 1 part coffee to 4 parts water. I have been using a weaker solution (1:10 or 1:5 coffee-to-water ratio). I have about 1 to 2 cups of coffee left over so I just fill the coffee pot with water until it reaches the 10 cup mark, and use that to water my plants. Brewed coffee is acidic so I use this solution to water my acidic loving plants (e.g., blueberries, azaleas, hydrangea, roses, etc.).

I did not notice dramatic changes in my blueberries, but my 1 year old hydrangea noticeably perked up within a day after the first application.

Note: You should refrain from using this solution too often, especially if you use this on non-acidic loving plants.