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Oh Cilantro, Cilantro, why won’t you grow?

In our first year together, gleefully anticipating salsa, I seeded you when I planted tomatoes in May. You bolted months before the first tomato even peeked out like a dark green pearl.

Our second year together, I saved your seeds and let many fall to the ground after the first spring’s crop. You sprouted again in the fall, and kept low to the ground surviving the winter freeze. In spring, you bolted.

Our third year, I bought Long-Standing Cilantro seeds, spread my saved seeds, sowed you every two weeks, placed you in many different soils, put pebbles around you for warmth, spread compost in your bed, and watered you attentively expecting a successional crop of leaves. You sprouted twice: in the spring and in the fall.

Cilantro, what can I do to appease you? Is my soil too rich? My expectations too high? Have I offended the Cilantro gods with some small infraction beneath my conscious awareness? Maybe you’re still pouting about that raspberry bush. Cilantro, you know I’m sorry about that raspberry bush. She meant nothing to me; the birds ate all her fruit. I was young and foolish and didn’t know raspberry roots would invade the garden like a super-virus trying to destroy everything we had together. I ripped that raspberry out, dug up every living root trying to reproduce itself, plucked out every tiny plantlet poking its fickle head above the ground. That was over a year ago, Cilantro, and you’re still giving me that look, those flowers.

Cilantro, I’ve coddled and finessed you, I’ve watered and limed you, I’ve let you run wild and grow any place you want to sprout while the other herbs got mercilessly weeded for straying out of bounds. But you, Cilantro, with all the seeding and the soaking, with all the effort I’ve put into trying to make you happy, with all the freedom I’ve given you, you refuse to produce more than a handful of leaves each year.

Maybe it’s over between us. Maybe I’ll just buy the huge bunches of leaves easily available for fifty cents at Saigon Market, and devote my precious garden space to some vegetable that appreciates me. This isn’t a one-way relationship, Cilantro; there has to be give and take on both sides. And so far, all you’ve done is take.

So think about it. You’re out there in the snow, perversely overwintering, mocking me with your cold-hardiness, waving frilled green leaves at me every day when I walk the garden path. Think about how you want this to end. If this becomes war, I think we both know who will win; I think we both know who has feet and opposable thumbs. I’m not threatening you, Cilantro. I’m simply stating the facts.

So think about it. Think very carefully about whether you want to make flowers or leaves next spring. I hope you’ll come to your senses and make the right decision for both of us.

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