Cilantro is an annual herb used around the world to enliven meals with a fresh herby zing. A common ingredient in salsa, soup, salad and chutney; the fresh or dried leaves are used by chefs in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa, and the Americas. The seeds are a spice known as coriander; which is as widely used as the leaves. The difference between an herb and a spice is what part of the plant is being used. A spice is a seed, stem, bark or other hard part of the plant while herbs are the leaves, flowers and soft parts of the plant. In the case of the cilantro plant; the leaves are an herb, and the seeds are a spice
In the Beach Flats Garden cilantro can be found in almost every plot; it even grows wild sometimes. Most of the gardeners plant it in rows 2-4 inches wide, with the seeds densely sown to create a hedge of cilantro that blocks out competing weeds. It is harvested as needed, by pulling it up from the roots. To use the herbs, we first wash them, then remove the stems and save the leaves. The leaves are finely chopped and used in almost every meal. In the fall the cilantro goes to seed, and the gardeners dry and save the seeds for next year. Some gardeners winter crop the cilantro also, for a year round harvest.