On the upside of low expectations

img_9772Does it insulate a person to have diminished expectations of things?  To proceed thus, one can easily become pleasantly surprised, no?  I find I operate this way with many things in my life*, especially green growing things.  Sure, I have a certain hope they’ll grow for me but it’s not a 100% expectation.  I find it best to work in the 50% category.

Above, however, is a sweet little patch of cilantro that I transferred from garden to greenhouse with no hopes at all for a harvest.  If you’ve ever planted the stuff you will be struck by two things:  one, how rapidly it shoots into flower and two, how freely it reseeds itself.  Both these traits mean your harvest window is a tiny one.  Well!  IN my usual what-the-hell fashion, I planted about ten tiny seedlings into the old greenhouse and threw a piece of leftover greenhouse plastic over the top of them.  I have been rewarded by lots of lovely cilantro all winter long…and yes, it surprises me.  Those fleshy little stems and leaves, I thought,  they’re bound to give up the ghost and turn into mush.

Sometimes (only sometimes) I like being wrong.

*including politics.

13 responses to “On the upside of low expectations

  1. I love cilantro, so reading this brought a smile to my face. Plants – and the growth/nature cycle overall – never fail to amaze with their own mysteries.

  2. oh, not at all cilantro loves cool weather. They shoot so fast when it’s hot. They grow best in cool, sunny frost free weather, but – although as you note – will take a fair amount of frost. When it is cool, the harvest window is extended. It also make sense to make small sowings of succession planting. But I have found out that my self-sown plants are the best… and everything is edible: the leaves, the stems, the seeds, the roots!

    It’s nice, isn’t it, to be pleasantly surprised once in while!

  3. What a wonderful thing to be wrong about. Cilantro is a constant cause of frustration for me…but there are worse things to be frustrated by.

  4. I love cilantro! I like the smell, the taste, and the looks of it.


  5. With our severe drought, my cilantro is doing poorly. It just hasn’t made it beyond a second set of adult leaves. Just little teeny tiny plantlets at best. Good lord, it’s depressing. My carrots are much the same. If there’s progress, it’s infinitesimally slow. We had 50% of our long-term average rainfall totals for 2008, and it’s not getting better anytime soon.

    We have GOT to get out of Texas.

  6. We planted cilantro once, years ago and haven’t had to plant it since. This year I am going to try to actually plant some later in the season so maybe we’ll have some fresh when it’s time to make salsa. Usually it’s all gone to seed by the time everything else is ready.

  7. It’s funny because at our apt bldg in Los Angeles Cilantro and Basil are the two things that don’t do well in the winter months.All the other herbs do well though.I used a slow bolt Cilantro last year that held up pretty well.I have arecipe for a shrimp corn chowder that uses a lot of Cilantro along with red peppers,onion and jalepeno peppers.The corn thickens it without any cream and it has a nice SW bite to it.What do you use the cilantro for?

  8. Success with cilantro inside or outside is no small thing! Every plant I’ve ever grown of it started flowering with lightning speed. Kudos!

  9. I left you something at my blog, head on over to pick it up 🙂

  10. a handful of cilantro, one green chili (or Jalapeno if there are no indian/asian/chinese stores close by) , one clove of garlic…put it in a blender with some salt. take the paste and add with yogurt. More yogurt if you don’t like it spicy…less if you like it spicier. Makes a great sauce for roasted lamb, chicken, salmon, samosas, shrimp …etc etc. : )

  11. MC, isn’t it good stuff? I’m like you though as I tend to get amazed by what little seeds do. Even weeds.

    Sylvie, yeah, it does make sense that it would appreciate the cold. That it’s even more hardy than my parsley, with its tougher stalks and leaves, kind of surprises me. I have succession planted too and yeah it still does better when it self-seeds!

    Dani, hah! A little dose of perspective! But don’t feel alone as I have found the stuff pretty frustrating too.

    Linda, yeah! And it’s good on eggs 🙂

    Zandt, what a huge bummer. Any rain collection devices around? I know some Texas soils can be really crummy too. Mulch with whatever you can, and compost too…but then that’s my cure for anything in the garden.

    Judy, hah, the same thing happened at my old house. I got wise though once I planted it here and it’s in an area where I can actually get it before the seeds fall: I save them then to dry and grind into coriander. I guess I didn’t get all the seeds though! It does make sense to count backward from when you want salsa. So if you expect huge tomato harvests in mid-August, plant the cilantro in mid-July in a somewhat shady spot. Voila!

    John, that surprises me: I can see basil liking the heat of summer, though. That chowder, though? That sounds great. In the usual rotation of foodstuffs, we have burrito/taco night a few times a month so it’s an opportunity for me to jazz up the salsa I put up last summer with some fresh cilantro. Yum. It’s 7:30 am and my mouth waters thinking about it. Hm: breakfast burritos?

    Elizabeth: one day you’re going to shock me by telling me it’s something you grew from seed 😉

    Thanks, MC! I am the worst award recipient ever though as I never play along 😦

    OH I swear WF if I ever find myself anywhere near Jersey I am coming by. I think cooking with yogurt is a real skill set and yep I haven’t mastered it at all. I have learned though that it helps tenderize tough meat…but my goodness that sounds great, so I will have to try it.

  12. Mmmm, cilantro! It makes everything taste better! I refuse to buy the stuff the grocery sells so I have quite a wait till I get some fresh again.

  13. cilantro loves our winter here in the District of Columbia, hates the summer,won’t even make it past spring

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