Watters Weekly Garden Classes
July 23 – Herb Garden Designs from Beginner to Pro – Summer is the ideal time to add herbs to the garden. More that just culinary, herbs are a staple plant for the mountain landscape. Learn which herbs are best in the kitchen, reseed by themselves, javelin proof, evergreen and more. You will be an herbal pro after this class. Free to gardeners of all ages.
July 30 – Easy Grow Roses – There are so many more choices than your grandmother knew. Learn the difference between hybrid tea, floribunda, shrub, carpet and so much more. Placement is critical for an easy to care for rose. Students learn the best varieties, care and placement for non-stop blooms. Free to local gardeners that want more fragrance & color in the yard.
Aug 6 – Secret Gardens with Hedges & Privacy Screens. Not all plants are created equal when it comes to intimacy in the garden. This class shows off the best plants, fastest growing, height, thickness, spacing and the local technique that gets them to fill in FAST! You can block unsightly neighbors and enhance your view, or pesky traffic and cut noise and light pollution. Experts will be on hand to help individuals with unique situations.
Aug 13 – Ground Covers and Vines to use in place of lawns without the mowing and care of grass. Soften that rock look with these easy to grow alternatives to a grass lawn, but take the summer heat all that rock throws off. These fast growing plants stay low & tight with less care needed than a lawn mower dreamed of. Learn which evergreen shrubs, herbs and vines soften all that rock, hold the soil from eroding, cool in summer while looking good all year long. A few plants go a long way when students know plants to use locally.
Aug 20 – Juicier Fruits, Grapes & Berries. Central Yavapai county is famous for our wine grapes but you can grow so much more. We will have experts on hand that can share the best producing raspberries, a blackberry bush that produces HUGE berries, more table grapes, gooseberries, currents, elderberries and more. Join in the garden harvest to big, juicy fruiting plants.
Aug 27 – Drip Irrigation Design and Installation (Free) It's time to turn that irrigation back on. Learn the benefits of drip irrigation, the best emitters and parts, how to set a system up or add to it. With the right system you can save water and have healthier plants at the same time. We will also go over how to properly set up and run an irrigation clock.
Cilantro is a favorite herb in Southwestern cooking and in Mexican dishes, but with this herb you get two herbs for the price of one. Generally referred to as coriander, the leaves are eaten fresh and called cilantro. The seeds have an entirely different flavor and are called coriander.
The leaves have a minty, cool, and grassy flavor. They are popular in many ethnic dishes, particularly in India, Mexico, and China. The seeds can be used whole or ground, and frequently are used in curries, pickles, and sausages. Their flavor is more of a floral musk with a hint of citrus.
Coriander is part of the carrot family and has the familiar flat, umbrella flowers. The leaves at the base of the plant are fan shaped and resemble a parsley leaf. As the stem grows, the leaves become much thinner and feathery. Usually the flowers are white, but some varieties trend to pink. The seed is round and hard.
Common names are cilantro, Chinese parsley, Mexican parsley, fresh coriander, coriander leaves.
Exposure - Coriander favors cool weather and grows best in partial shade. It can handle more sun in early spring and fall, especially if kept moist.
Hardiness - Cilantro is classified as an annual. When days lengthen and temperatures rise in June and July it will bolt quickly to seed.
Mature Plant Size - Most varieties grow 12 inches tall and branch out as they are harvested, to a width also of 12 inches.
Days to Maturity – Leaves grown from a plant start should be ready for harvest within 50 days. Growing the herb from seed will take longer, usually about 100 days to maturity.
Suggested Varieties - Very often seed packets are labeled ‘Cilantro’. However, as the herb has become more popular, there are a few named varieties that are worth pursuing Some of my favorites are 'Santo' and 'Marino' because they are slow to bolt and are very tasty. 'Festival' is a quick grower with larger leaves. Some years it will overwinter in some zone 8 garden spots.
Harvesting and Using - Both coriander and cilantro are versatile herbs. You can harvest cilantro leaves once the plants are about 6 inches tall. Pinch portions of the upper stem and the plants should branch out offering more leaves. If your plants should go to flower don’t waste them, as even the flowers are flavorful and edible. Cilantro is delicate and should be used fresh. The best way to store cilantro leaves for future use is by freezing them.
The seeds can be harvested green or dry. I find the taste a bit fresher in the green stage. Seeds can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks or frozen for longer storage. Some gardeners wait until most of the seeds have dried and turn brown. They then cut off the entire seed head and keep it in a paper bag until the seeds come loose. They then can be stored in an air tight container, then ground as needed.
The seeds are staples of curries and ethnic stews. They frequently are paired with cumin, but are fun to play with in culinary experiments. Coriander works with everything from beans to pork and fruits to vodka.
Insider's Growing Tips
Soil: Cilantro will grow in just about any rich soil. Since it grows so fast, give it lots of compost, manure, or other organic matter.
Sowing: You can sometimes find seedlings of cilantro, but it usually is started from seed indoors, 4 – 6 weeks before the last frost date. However, plants started indoors can be difficult to transplant. Best results seem to be with seeding directly into the garden 1–2 weeks before the last frost date. Succession plant a new batch every couple of weeks to prolong harvest and take advantage of cilantro's short season.
Although cilantro is a cool weather herb, it is still frost sensitive. Keep some kind of frost cover handy and protect the plants if extreme weather is predicted. Gardeners in USDA Zones 8 and up will have better luck with fall sowing, with succession sowing into winter. Even colder, higher altitude gardens can start seed in late summer, to harvest through last frost.
Cilantro/Coriander seeds are actually fruits that contain 2 or more seeds. That means that more than one plant will come from each seed. Seedlings may be thinned or left to grow as they appear. This herb is short lived, so the plants usually don't live long enough to crowd out each other.
Maintenance - The biggest challenge growing cilantro is that it seems to bolt the minute harvesting begins. That’s because cilantro responds to the amount of daylight it receives. It is slow to grow during the short days of spring or fall, but the long days of summer signal it to set flowers and go to seed. The plant can be stalled from flowering by giving it some shade, keeping it well watered, and frequently harvesting the leaves.
The only way around this summer bolting is to succession plant in the garden at 2-week intervals. These plants still will go to seed, but if plantings are staggered, several good harvests can be expected from each planting.
Pests and Problems - The plants aren’t around long enough for diseases to be a problem. They may get aphids or white flies if the plants are crowded or stressed, but expect the plants to be virtually problem free. Even deer don’t like cilantro.
Plant of the Week is the Purple Magic Crape Myrtle. You'll be wowed by the sheer amount and intensity of the purple blossoms that shadow this impressive bush. Leaves emerge as bold red foliage in spring then turn bright green just as the purple flowers open in summer. It blooms twice: first in summer, then again in autumn, and at $39 more than one is affordable for landscape or garden.
FREE Gardening class for July 23 @ 9:30am is about Herb Garden Designs. Designs from Beginner to Pro – Summer is the ideal time to add herbs to the garden. More than just for culinary use, herbs are a staple plant for the mountain landscape. Learn which herbs are best in the kitchen, which will reseed by themselves, are Javelina proof, evergreen,etc. You will be an herbal pro after this class! Free to gardeners of all ages.
Until next week, I'll see you amongst the herbs here at Watters Garden Center.