A couple of weeks back we accompanied my brother and his family to the farmers’ market up in Greenville. We were in the market for herbs, particularly cilantro, because of an excellent recipe for three-bean salad my eldest daughter makes. It calls for fresh cilantro, a.k.a. coriander.
But all they had was something very different looking called "Vietnamese cilantro." The vendors said this variety was particularly well suited to our climate. So OK; we bought some, and added it to several other little pots of herbs we had bought in recent days.
Having recently given up on a plant at my office that didn’t seem to respond well to watering only when I felt like it, I decided to stick several of these herbs in a pot (with my wife’s supervision, because what I don’t know about plants would fill a library) and take them to the office.
I’ve been quite attentive to this little herb garden, watering it constantly (the terra cotta soaks up a lot of it) and rearranging my office in order to keep it in the sun. And what has been the result?
The Vietnamese cilantro has taken over. Relentlessly. The other plants — Spicy Globe Basil, Greek oregano, and plain old sweet basil — have seen it coming and just curled up and died in its path, like so many dominoes. Only the tiniest sprigs of the oregano and sweet basil remain, and you can’t see them because the Vietnamese herb has grown to three or four times its original size.
I don’t know what it is. Maybe all that watering has created a rice-paddy-like environment. Maybe it’s my failure to keep significant numbers of ground troops in-country. In any case, I think it’s time to send in a tiny helicopter and get the oregano and basil out.