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Harvesting Seeds from Herb Plants

Harvesting Seeds from Herb Plants

Every year I grow cilantro and every year I get frustrated that it bolts in the heat so quickly. Even when I plant it early in spring, it doesn’t take long before the plant bolts and turns bitter. Again, this year I decided to grow cilantro, but unlike previous years, I made the best of it and harvested the seeds from the plants. I did the same with dill.

 Sad-looking cilantro that’s bolted

Sad-looking cilantro that’s bolted

Plants like cilantro and dill produce flowers that produce seeds that will then produce more plants. It’s a natural process of reproduction, but it means the plant will no longer produce those tasty leaves and it will “bolt,” turning the existing leaves bitter. (Flowers on plants do not always mean bolting. In the case of other plants, it means it’s producing vegetables like tomatoes, eggplant, beans, etc.)

Both cilantro and dill produce seeds that can be used as spices in cooking and preserving.

Is it Cilantro or Coriander?

You may have heard of cilantro also being referred to as coriander. So, which is it? Both. Cilantro and coriander are just different parts of the same plant. Cilantro refers to the leafy green herb and coriander is the seed often used as a spice.

What’s the difference between an herb and a spice? An herb is the leafy part of the plant and the spice can be the root, seed, stem, fruit, flower, or bark of the tree or plant. Learn more from the Farmer’s Almanac.

 Fresh Dill Weed

Fresh Dill Weed

 Early Dill Seed

Early Dill Seed

 Later-stage Dill Seed

Later-stage Dill Seed

How to Harvest Seeds

  1. Allow the seeds to dry and turn brown on the plant.

  2. Once they’ve reached this stage, cut the whole flower heads (the clusters of seeds on the plant).

  3. Bunch the stems together and tie a string or rubber band around them.

  4. Turn the bunch upside down and hang inside a paper bag. Use a binder clip or other method to keep them at the top. The seeds will dry and drop inside the bag as they dry.

  5. Separate the stems from the seed as much as possible.

  6. Store the seeds in an airtight container and use as needed.

 Hang bunches of seeds inside a paper bag to dry

Hang bunches of seeds inside a paper bag to dry

 Dill seed

Dill seed

How to Grow & Harvest Garlic

How to Grow & Harvest Garlic

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil

How to Make Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Olive Oil