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Green Hills

Growing Cilantro - preventing bolting growing all year-round

**The cilantro shown in this blog photo was planted in December and is yeilding now (March) and has been on and off all winter**

For years I didn't grow cilantro or parsley at home. I'd buy one or two starts at the garden center, plant them in pots or in the garden, and within a couple weeks they'd bolt. I'd cut back the shoots but to no avail.

That, plus the way we use herbs the plant from the garden center was actually less than what I'd put in many recipes we were cooking.

That's all done and cilantro is one of my favorites in the garden. The secrets are double - first, for all herbs, we've dropped the habit of planting one or two plants. Not sure why I ever did that, but we use so much that we'd carefully trim a few leaves or stalks from whatever herb we were going to use so as to not cut the plant back to nothing. Now we grow a lot of all herbs we use - I think last year we had 4 varieties on basil and grew at least 4 - 6 plants of each. We used them as borders, container plants on the deck, and all over the garden and landscaping. They were really pretty plus when you want to make, say, pesto, you just go to one or two plants, cut back bunches, and cook away. Those plants will recover while you cut and pick basil from the others in between.

Back to cilantro. Growing from starts at the store and transplanting is the problem. The stress of the transplant is what makes the plant bolt. They need to be started from seed where you plan on letting them grow and they'll grow all season - even through winter if you start them in the fall. Winter plants will go into dormancy during big cold spells, but will recover and grown in between when days get warm now and then and finally will grow like crazy when spring kicks in. We use them all spring until they do naturally begin to bolt, then we let them - and harvest the seeds which are the spice coriander!

Lastly we grow patches of cilantro and parsley. We broadcast seed the area we want them to grow - typically a 3 x 3 plot or so for our needs (this can also be done in pots or containers - just scatter seeds directly in them - they don't like to be transplanted).

We don't thin them at all when they come up - we'll be doing that throughout the season as we cut them for dining. We've always got as much as we need. We also interdisperse these in other parts of the garden between other plants. They make a pretty edible ground cover.

When we plant them in the late spring / early summer for the new crop we do the same and have great herbs in abundance all seasons.

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