Monday, 25 October 2010

Coriander and hover flies

The coriander in my garden is flowering profusely at the moment...
... my plants have pale pink flowers that grow in clusters and because I plant the seeds thickly,  I seem to get a forest of flowers that can remain for weeks.  Coriander seems to be one of the plants that is beloved of hover flies.
Hover flies are striped, and remind me of tiny wasps, but they don't bite and, in fact they are beneficial to the garden.  Larval hover flies are often parasites of aphids and reduce the pest population significantly.  I tried to photograph them today and this one is hovering near to the flower (there's another one on the flower anyway)...
 ... and this one shows you the stripes really well....
The other flower that they seem to love is rue.  They are " all over" that today as well.
(ed.  next day... the rue plant and it flowers have a cloud of hover flies around them, and I don't like the chances of any aphids in my yard!)
Coriander seems to be one of those flavours that, either you really like it a lot... or you just can't stand it.   I happen to love it and, back in the days when I used to buy it from the supermarket,  I was known to buy two bunches at the same time,  as I knew that a single one wouldn't make it home...  one for cooking and another to eat on the way.
Coriander is a winter herb here.  It grows slowly in the cold weather, but doesn't seem to mind some frost or uneven climate.  Once the days are longer than the nights (after the equinox)  it flowers, along with the parsley,  and "goes to seed" and it is time to plant basil and summer vegetables.  Once again, the benefit of eating seasonally means that when the new season's specialties arrive, they are all the more thrilling.

One person in our household doesn't like coriander.  This is disappointing,  as there are so many wonderfully flavoured dishes that include this herb as an absolute requirement.  It has meant that I have learned to make a wonderful coriander chutney that I have described before...
... it is a very dark emerald green and loses none of the coriander flavour that coriander devotees (including myself) love.  This can be added to "non-coriander" versions of many dishes.  The aversion to the taste doesn't seem to extend to the seeds.

My coriander plants are beginning to produce fruit...
... and when they are dry,  they look like this.... (thanks wikipedia,  mine aren't dry yet)...
These are used as a pickling spice, in bread (instead of caraway), in some kinds of beer and, ground, they are a component of many curry powders.  In fact,  the seeds are easy to buy in bulk at food stores and are often my source of seeds for planting.  They cost me about $3.50 for 500g, much less expensive than many seed sources and so I can also afford to use them extravagantly and as an attractant for my hover flies, making aphids rare in my garden.

No comments: