Not everyone is a cat lover and not everyone wants cats visiting their garden – not least because cats are carnivores and thus their faeces can contain parasites or pathogens not present in other types of manure, such as horse and cow. There are two very good ways of discouraging them, however:

Toughen up

Because cats like to walk on soft soil and are more likely to defecate in soft soil or compost, you can dissuade them by making your beds and borders less attractive to them by covering areas of bare soil with twigs. Driving sticks into the ground will have a similar effect.

Create a stink

Cats don’t like strong smells – so they hate lavender, rosemary and lemon balm. Dot as many as you can of these plants around the garden. Throwing citrus peels and human hair directly on the garden is also said to deter them.

The coriander file

What’s it called?

Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is known as cilantro in America and dhania in East Africa.

Which family does it come from?

It is an annual herb of the Apiaceae family.

What’s it used for?

All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most traditionally used in cooking.

What are its health benefits?

The health benefits of coriander include its use in the treatment of skin inflammation, high cholesterol diarrhoea, mouth ulcers, anaemia, indigestion, menstrual disorders, smallpox, conjunctivitis, skin disorders, and blood sugar disorders, while also benefiting eye care.

What is its history?

Coriander is one of the oldest herbs and spices on record. Coriander was mentioned in the Bible, and the seeds have been found in ruins dating back to 5000 B.C. Its name comes from the Greek word koris, meaning a stinkbug. This is likely a reference to the strong aroma given off by the cilantro plant leaves when they are bruised.

How do you grow it?

Sowing

Sow seeds thinly and cover lightly. Germination will usually take between 7-20 days. Sow every three or four weeks for a constant supply of leaves.
Growing

Keep soil and compost damp, but avoid overwatering. Dry soil or compost can cause plants to bolt or flower prematurely. Plants do not normally need feeding, but the occasional liquid feed of a balanced fertiliser can be used as a pick-me-up. Weed regularly around plants grown for seed production and to prevent a check to growth.

Protecting

To prevent slugs feeding on your seedlings try creating a barrier of eggshells or sawdust around your coriander.

Harvesting

Pick leaves when young and use either fresh or frozen. If you want the seeds, then pick when ripe, just before they start to fall to the ground. Cut entire stems and allow them to dry on paper. When fully dry, store in airtight containers. Seeds can be used whole or ground to a coarse powder with a pestle and mortar: the greener the seed, the stronger the flavour. Green seeds will keep fresh in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

 

Article by Jane Barsby