Saturday, June 6, 2009


Companion Gardening is a method of pesticide free gardening where many plants share garden space and thus benefit each other. A common example is planting marigolds around a lettuce bed to keep the bugs away. The theory is that the strong smell of marigolds confuses the bugs looking for the lettuce. A side benefit is how beautiful and colorful you garden becomes.

Marigolds, Spinach and Peas

One of the best plants for companion gardening is Cilantro. I feel this way for three big reasons:

1. Cilantro is a very early spring plant (in my garden it is the first to poke up out of the snow).

2. Cilantro generously re-seeds itself i.e. I haven't planted cilantro for five years now, yet every spring I have more than enough.

3. Dainty white cilantro flowers attract bees, hover flies, and parasitic wasps - all good bugs.

Here is the only hitch I've had with cilantro:

The main reason I want to grow it in the garden is for home-grown salsa - but cilantro is ready in April! Obviously tomatoes, onions, and peppers are not ready in April . . . So for a while I was stumped. It really bothered me that I was buying cilantro to add to my home-grown salsa when I had an overabundance of it just three months ago. I did some classy internet research and tried freezing it last spring to use in my salsa that fall - it was perfect.

Here's how:

-Place clean, dry cilantro leaves in a food processor and blend until it's as fine as you like it

-Maneuver the little pieces into ice cube trays. This is tricky, and you better like the smell of cilantro (I love it!) but push them into the trays so that there is very little air in each "cube"

-Cover cilantro with water (it only takes a little) and freeze.

-Bag and label your Cilantro Cubes. Store until Fall and throw a few in each batch of salsa - YUM!

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