There are three things I am totally convinced of when it comes to growing a garden:
- If you aren’t letting cilantro (coriander) go to seed in your garden each year, you’re doing it wrong.
- Using grass clippings in your garden. One of your most valuable garden resources that’s probably growing in your yard.
- Dogs love to pee on chives.
Let’s start with Cilantro.
This is the time of year where my garden appears to be plump full of weeds. While there may be a few undesired plants here and there that I will remove, 75 percent of the “weeds” in my garden right now are baby cilantro plants. Those other baby weeds you see growing with the cilantro? Those are edible too and have a lovely lemon flavor.
You may be asking yourself, why on earth would you want all that cilantro growing everywhere in your garden? A valid question. If you have ever allowed your cilantro to stay in the garden once it’s gone to flower, you probably already know the answer to.
Beneficial insects, coriander for my spice cupboard and free plants.
Beneficial insects are the number one reason I allow cilantro to go to flower in my garden every season. In fact, the sooner if bolts for me the better. Now, I do keep a plant or two harvested so that I have cilantro for cooking with, but most of it I let go to seed. The flower of the cilantro plant attracts multitudes of beneficial critters that without fail, keep my green caterpillar outbreaks to a minimum. If I have cilantro flowering in my garden, I can guarantee that the damage to my broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and kale will be minimal. The moment that I don’t have any flowering anymore is when I start to have problems.
Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant.
I know, I don’t know why you would name them differently either. Every fall, when my cilantro flowers are done flowering, I collect much of the fabulous seed from theses plants, store them in a jar and grind them in a coffee grinder (or smash them with my pestle and mortar) and using them in my cooking for the following year.
I let the rest of the seed fall to the ground and seed itself for the following growing season. Yes, even with all the mulch I lay, they manage to find their way into the ground and sprout the next year. They have become a fabulous sign for when it’s safe to begin planting a few things. It is as if they know when the temperamental Minnesota winter is finally coming to an end. Typically I only see one light frost after they have germinated.
Now, I don’t let all of these stay for the season, but I leave them where they are until I plant and them I simple pull out the ones I don’t want as I go.
Moving on to the most valuable resource available to you, grass clippings.
Now, I will begin by saying, if you have sprayed your lawn with some form of weed killer, DO NOT, use those clippings to mulch your garden. You may get lucky and not kill your plants but I wouldn’t count on it. Not to mention you are adding all those chemicals to your soil.
Using grass clippings as mulch in your garden does a few things.
- Add a thick layer of clippings around your plants or between rows does wonders for keeping weeds away. I usually add a six to nine-inch layer which slowly compacts down and rarely allows weeds to sprout.
- Plants love it, especially heavy nitrogen feeders like Brussels sprouts and broccoli. As the grass breaks down, it releases nutrients into the soil feeding the plant throughout the season. It also keeps the dirt from splashing up onto the plants giving way to a cleaner harvest of things like beans, strawberries, tomatoes, greens and peas. This means more eating right in the garden for you and less disease for the plants.
- Grass is a free resource that will add fabulous organic matter to your garden for years to come. If you don’t have enough to provide for your needs, ask your neighbor if you can rake theirs after they mow or have them dump their bag into a garbage can that you have provided and can pick up from them after a mowing. Again, make sure they have not sprayed their lawn for weeds.
So, simple recap on my time in the garden this morning…
Cilantro and grass are your friends. If you are not letting cilantro self seed or using grass clippings in your garden as mulch, you’re missing out.
Oh, and on the chives and dog thing. Every year, I have to replant my chives because our dog loves to pee on them. Which also means I never get to harvest them. Thankfully I have a dear friend who is always looking for someone to take their excess plants. This year I am going to plant them somewhere high he cannot reach them. We shall see what comes of my plan…
Until next time, enjoy your time in the garden.