I was wondering if I used fish emulsion (high in nitrogen) on my herbs, if it would prevent them from flowering? I would like to keep basil, cilantro and parsley flower-free as long as possible.
No, and because the nitrogen incourages more foliage, it will reduce the flavors and smells in the leaves. Too much nitrogen for herbs is not good in most cases. To help reduce flowering, like on basil, pinch off the flower buds at the tops of each stem. This will make basil send out more side branches. I use to grow a lot of basil and was out there almost daily plucking off many flower buds. With 30+ plants, you can spend an hour or more on removing the flower buds. Cilantro will turn from flat leaves (looks a bit like parsley), then they send up thinner longer fern like leaves, they will never revert back again. You can harvest the thinner fern like leaves too, but their stems are a bit tough. Once you see these thinner fern like leaves, you know it has bolted. Some herbs have special breeding to reduce bolting somewhat, but you have to get seeds for these, as most plants you buy, unless marked, will bolt as soon as they like to. If you want continous supplies, plant several batches of cilantrospaced about 3 weeks apart. Avoid full sun and heat, as cilantro will die if its too hot. Basil, can last all summer, provided the plants are big and you are removing the flowers. If you like bees around, leave a few for them, as they love things like basil flowers, garlic chive flowers, and many other plants that seem to flower in mid summer. Fish emulson also contains some phosphorous. Its good to use around plants that use a lot of nitrogen like peas, broccoli, and other leafy veggies.
Thanks for the response, I didn't think about the effect on flavor! I have no trouble pinching basil, but I get so disappointed in the cilantro. As soon as the tomatoes are ready for salsa, the cilantro is long dead and buried. I think what I'll do this year is keep planting crops of cilantro so I have enough all summer, see how that goes. I'm not sure how frequently to replant, maybe every three weeks?
I never thought to use fish emulsion on leafy greens, I generally don't fertilize in the veggie garden, just rely on the nutrients in the compost. We're going to be relying much more on the home garden this year, I'm going to try some fish emulsion on one lettuce bed and see what the difference is.
Pieheart, do successive plantings of cilantro, like you said, or buy a variety called 'Santo'. It really took forever to bolt for us. Of course, I live in zone 5, but usually regular cilantro bolts in July.
Thanks for the reply, herbalbetty! I just googled Santo cilantro and found it at Seeds of Change. They even have reasonable shipping rates! I'm going to get some as well as some arugula seeds that I haven't been able to find locally.
Keep in mind that cilantro cannot tolerate bright sun or heat in summer, and will quickly wilt and die. As I mentionedm every 3 weeks is a good span of time. Because they have small rooit systems and are picked young, you can plant the seeds fairly close togther. I usually put about 20-30 seeds per 2"x2" pot.
Thanks for the info on light conditions ksrogers! I was going to put the cilantro in a window box on my deck, I'll make sure it's on the sheltered side, maybe in a pot by itself.
I tried to order from Seeds of Change last night but their checkout process was experiencing computer failure. I'm going to try again later, if no success I can always just use the seeds I have this year and buy the ones I want next year. I'm still impressed with their low shipping charges, hope that doesn't change. One seed company was charging $6.95 for the lowest threshhold plus an additional fuel surcharge of $2.50. That made my packet of seeds over $10, obviously I didn't order there. It wouldn't "hurt" as much with a large order, but with a single packet of seeds, well, they weren't looking for my business.
Sometimes your local garden shops may still have several seed choices even now. Once spring is nearly gone, they lower the prices for seeds to clear them out. Locally, we have an Agway store that competes with all the other big hardware stores, so they usually still have a decent selection of seeds left. If you want to grow cilantro from seeds and want a good amount for a single meal, start them in a 4-6 inch round or square pot, and add about 30 or more seeds all over the surface and then cover with a 1/2 inch of seed starting medium. Water well and they should start to sprout in about 10 days. Wait two more weeks and plant another batch of seeds in another pot, then another 3 weeks later a third.
Johnny Seeds has the santo variety and has $3.95 for shipping the one packet, if Seeds of Change is still broken for you.
Thanks for the referral to Johnny Seeds, FataMorgana! I just went to their website and made a long wishlist! They do have the cilantro I wanted, plus several other seeds I've been looking for. Most of the veggie seeds in the garden centers here are gone, believe it or not! Lots of flowers, but not too many veggies. At least not the varieties I want.
I love this site! Thanks again!
Glad to help!
Territorial Seeds and Pinetree Seeds are two of my other favorite places to order veggie seeds. They have a wide variety of choices.
If you are looking for heirloom varieties, I can pass along a few other names as well.