Garden Update – Cilantro and Lettuce

My vegetable garden is in full swing! Water is key now that it’s very hot. I’ve been checking on my plants daily, which are across the street from my home in the Beach 91st Street Community Garden. Two plants I want to discuss this week: cilantro and lettuce.

This year’s cilantro crop seeded itself from last year! It just appeared in the spring-like magic. I had to give it the good ol’ taste test. It could’ve been parley. My grandfather would do this in the food stores to figure out what was what. I do it too. Most times these products are labeled now but I like to do it anyway because it reminds me of my grandfather. I’ve been taste-testing in the stores for as long as I can remember. Besides a few side-eyes from shoppers, I’ve never gotten in trouble or kicked out of the supermarket!

The organization of my veg garden this year is a bit of a mess because of where the cilantro re-seeded. I suppose that doesn’t really matter. What’s important is remembering to deadhead cilantro flowers (and any other herb you’re growing). This is done so the energy the plant produces goes to growing more leaves and not to the flowering bud. Doing this will yield an ongoing, larger crop.

Here’s something you may not know, cilantro is the Spanish name for coriander. So they are one and the same. All parts of the plant is edible. When you pinch off the flowers, use that in your chili or to top your tacos! Other great culinary uses for cilantro are in chutneys, salsa, guacamole and to season meats. If your plant does go to seed, save them, dry them and you’ll have coriander spice.


Right now I have more cilantro than I know what to do with it. I’ll have to start taco Tuesdays.

This year is the first time I’ve ever grown lettuce. I love salad so this is exciting for me! It is very easy to start from seed, sowing them in rows in the early spring. Plant shallow as the seeds need some light to germinate. Keep the soil moist during this beginning phase. You can also plant lettuce at the end of the summer as It’s is a cool-weather crop.


I had to ask a fellow gardener friend about harvesting. There are two main harvest methods. The first – remove leaves as needed from the outside of the plant (the oldest leaves). The inside will continue to grow for later use. The second method is cutting off the whole head when the plant is mature, leaving 1 1 /2 inches of the base. This strategy also allows for the plant to regrow; it will take longer for the lettuce to mature again so there is “wait time” in-between harvests. Through the season the full-cut method will produce 3-4 heads of lettuce.


I have two types of greens in my garden – butter lettuce and red leaf lettuce. Both are thriving. I’m using the cut-as-needed harvest technique. I may experiment with one plant using the second method to see how long it takes to regrow.

Next up will be my long-awaited tomato plant harvest. Every year I can’t wait for this moment. As you may have guessed… tomatoes are my favorite food in the whole world!!

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