Friday, June 29, 2018

Oh Me of little faith

After all these years pottering around our garden, you'd think I could trust myself to grow some coriander without it turning into a drawn-out saga. But the magic ingredient in this story is faith, or a complete lack of faith in myself, I'm sad to admit.

It all began with my being late to get any coriander going at all this year. In April or May, I usually sow some of the seeds I've saved from the previous year's crop, and pictured above, here's a nice close-up of them. The problem was that April and May in Sydney were unseasonably hot, and heat is not a good thing to have too much of when growing coriander in Sydney. It's a much better autumn/winter/spring crop. And so it wasn't until mid-June that I finally scolded myself with "Coriander, Jamie, what are you doing with coriander this year?".

This is where my complete lack of faith in myself kicked into overdrive. Sure, I sowed some seeds, in fact lots of seeds, but I knew that a very chilly June isn't anything like the right time to sow seeds. They should have come up in 10 to 12 days, but it was only after 18 days, this morning, that I spotted the first little coriander sprout rising up to greet the day (pictured above). Better late than never ...

However, by last week I had convinced myself that my saved seed was perhaps never going to come up. It was not so much panic as anxiety spiced with urgency that made me do it, so I went to the garden centre and bought a packet of Yates coriander seed and sowed them, too. They're in the pot in the foreground, and so far nothing has happened, but it's a bit early for them to show. 

I'm trying to mollycoddle them as much as possible, sitting them up in a sheltered spot under our covered pergola, on our outdoor table, in their own mini greenhouse. Nasty cold winter winds aren't going to hurt my babies.

The back of the Yates seed packet says the ideal time to sow coriander in Sydney is definitely not now. Spring (September) through to autumn (May) is recommended. But since when have I allowed a mere seed packet to run my life? I'm in charge here!

My coriander seed-saving and sowing routine has been humming along nicely for several years, and it's only because they were slow to come up in the colder weather that I foolishly didn't trust my own saved seeds this time round. When you consider how much coriander seed in a packet costs (you get hardly any seeds) this brown paper bag full of my saved seeds is probably a hundred bucks' worth. Untold riches ...

Worst of all, and I am saving the worst till last, I spotted a punnet of coriander in the garden centre where I bought the seeds, and though as a general rule transplanted seedlings of coriander don't last as long as plants left undisturbed in the pot where they first sprouted, I decided to get these as well. If you're a generous soul you might consider this to be sensible insurance, but I'm not feeling generous today I know it is pure faithlessness and nothing else.

The main reason I grow coriander is to have little handfuls of it on hand when cooking. When I am cooking a curry that requires a cup or two of chopped coriander leaves to go into the blender with all the onion, garlic and chillies etc, then I can buy a bunch of coriander from one of our many local Asian shops.

But when I don't really need a whole big bunch of coriander, and all I need is to snip off a handful to toss into a stir-fry or to use as a garnish, it's nice to be able to wander out into the garden to get some, rather than trudge up to the shops once more.

Should my lack of faith in myself prove to be a shameful episode, and all my sown seeds sprout and I have coriander pots galore  (well, three of them to be precise) then it all should last through winter and spring. Then, in the early summer when the weather warms up, they will all turn into spindly-leaved flowery plants that eventually produce masses of seeds that I harvest and dry.  

And so the cycle of the seasons and life goes on, but next year I plan to trust myself a little more ...

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