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A Smorgasbord Of Strawberries; Plus, My Favorite Annual Herb

Growing strawberries doesn’t take a whole lot of work. They can be fickle if rain or irrigation comes sporadically, rather than regularly – it causes the berries to malform. But otherwise, if you give them a natural fertilizer once or twice in the spring they grow like crazy.

This year will be interesting, because it will be the second year they are in wood chips. Supposedly, I won’t have to water them (especially since our hot weather comes after the strawberry harvest). I hope so. If I don’t, I will go out and buy pine and cedar mulch every year. Spreading out mulch once a year is a whole lot easier than watering hundreds of strawberry plants by hand, several times a week!

And if you cover the plants with three or four inches of mulch in the fall, what grows out of the mulch are well-producing plants. No more trying to figure out which are the parent plants that you have to pull out, or messing with hills and such like. (Hear those last two words in a deep Southern accent. ;))

Two crazy things this year: one, the plants started flowering in February; and two, I’ve already harvested four berries! It’s mid-April as I write these words. June-bearing plants generally start showing red berries mid-May in these here parts (Southern accent again) and our harvest is pretty much over by the time Northerners are just beginning to pick berries. But after December, our winter was mostly mild and so everything got going early.

Now, want to see the plethora of strawberry plants I’ve got growing this year? Check out the following video.

My favorite annual herb

Many herbs are perennial. In other words, you plant them once and they keep coming back, year after year. Oregano, fennel, and lavender are good examples. They are “the bomb”, because I can get more out of them with a lot less work.

However, there is an annual herb that is just as easy because it easily and happily self-seeds. It’s not basil. It self-seeds, but not as liberally. Also, because it’s a warm-weather plant it requires watering along with the summer vegetables. I also don’t like the flavor of basil as well as I like the annual herb in question.

Which is…cilantro!

I LOVE the flavor of fresh cilantro in salads. Cooks of a variety of cuisines enjoy it in a variety of cooked dishes. Cooks and bakers alike often use coriander, which is the ground-up seed of cilantro. When I used to eat grains, I would sometimes sprinkle coriander in my dish. It added a tongue-awakening, yet mild, flavor.

But more than eating it, I love growing it. The main reason is that I only have to grow it once! In the video below, I show you where I planted cilantro last spring in the garden, and where I had several volunteers pop up a few feet away.

Then there is the area where I dumped the spent cilantro plants – which still had seeds on them. What do you know, a small patch of cilantro sprung up right next to the garden refuse pile! So I have more cilantro than I need, and I didn’t even plant any! I haven’t had to water it, either, since it’s been a typical wet (or, wet enough) spring.

I may end up never having to plant cilantro again! The only downside to the herb is that it doesn’t last that long. Often less than a month after it germinates, it starts going to seed. Oh, well. I enjoy it while it lasts.

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