The Produce Companion | Hardie Grant Books, 2015
Everyone, it seems, is learning how to save seeds. Generations of gardeners have handed down the knowledge of how to save seeds so as to propagate heirloom varieties of tomatoes and herbs and other life-sustaining vegetal things. Libraries have recently elbowed in on the action and are teaching the public to save seeds. Organizations such as the Seed Savers Exchange not only save seeds but share seeds. The Norwegian government has secured seeds from all over the planet in a guarded facility situated deep within a mountain on a remote island in the Arctic. And those doomsday preppers? They’re grooving on seed stockpiling, too. But here’s the thing—you don’t have to fear a zombie apocalypse or want to go off the grid and raise chickens in your backyard for it to make sense for you to know how to save seeds. All you need is a desire to grow something and the common sense to be frugal about it. Following is a short lesson on how to save seeds, excerpted from The Produce Companion, that illustrates just how darn simple it is to save the edible seeds from cilantro that’s already growing in your garden or on your windowsill. When you’re ready to graduate from there and learn how to save seeds of other species, start at the Seed Saver Exchange site we mentioned earlier, and if you find yourself wanting additional information, just let us know in a comment below and we’ll steer you to the appropriate sources.—Renee Schettler Rossi
Cilantro, or fresh coriander, leaves are best before the plant begins to bolt, as the leaves then change flavor and become less palatable. [Editor’s Note: When a plant “bolts,” it stops nourishing its leaves and instead creates a profusion of flowers and seeds. It’s very Darwinian in terms of survival of the species. It’s also sorta sad because your plant is about to kick it, but hey, you get seeds!] All is not lost when coriander bolts, as the flowers attract beneficial insects, and the seeds are of course edible. Once the seeds have formed, place a brown paper bag over the top of the plant and secure with a rubber band. Cut the stem and hang it upside down in a dry, dark place for a few weeks and the bag will catch the coriander seeds as they fall. [Editor’s Note: That’s it. Then keep the coriander seeds in a cool, dry, dark place to plant come spring or in recipes for, you know, stuff like salt-roasted potatoes.]
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Excerpted from The Produce Companion © Meredith Kirton and Mandy Sinclair. Photo © Jeremy Simons. All rights reserved.