Friday, April 15, 2011

JOT #16: herbs from seeds

When I was little, my grandmother would save carrot tops and soak them in water - the carrots would sprout roots and greens and grow, right in the kitchen. Then she taught me how I could get plants from coriander seeds, the tiny cilantro leaves peeking out, their fragrance intoxicating.

Since then I love the process of planting things I have in my pantry. Coriander seeds bring cilantro whenever the weather's a bit warm, perfect for Indian or Mexican food. Fenugreek brings methi, or fenugreek leaves, which make delicate greens to add in salads or saute on their own. Onion seeds yield onion greens. Even mustard seeds will grow.

I'm curious how fennel and cumin and others might grow, but you can try it at home: just plant 1/2-1 teaspoon of seeds an inch or so deep in a small pot of soil on your windowsill (a yogurt container with holes works). Place a plate under it to catch any drained water, and water it each day, just running over the tap until the soil is wet. Be patient. That's the hard part.

The reward is when you see that tiny sprout all of a sudden one day - two tiny cotyledons (the seed leaves) in bright green. They look like nothing you've seen. Suddenly there are not one but many. The two tiny leaves make way for a long stem that carries the "real" plant - deep fenugreek leaves, or spiky cilantro, or something else.

Check your pantry and try planting some. I'm always surprised what actually grows.


Anonymous said...

You had me at the first line!!! We have so enjoyed eating carrots from the garden this year. I've been scratching my head thinking of what to do with the tops. Can't wait to try. Thanks for sharing!

rani said...

with carrots, unfortunately, you won't actually grow another carrot. you'll just grow more carrot tops! (they can be cooked and used as greens, though a little tough)