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

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine