How to Grow Cilantro February 10 2014

Cilantro is an annual member of the carrot family that has been grown for thousands of years. It is popular in South American, Mexican, Asian, and Mediterranean dishes. The leaves are used as seasonings in salsas, guacamole, grain salads. The seed is called coriander. Unripened, it has a citrusy flavor and can be used like fennel as a breath freshener, or as a flavoring for fish dishes. The ripened coriander is milder and is used in pickles, curries, bakery, sorbet, etc. The root is also added to curries, and the stems to bean dishes. The oil from the seed is used in perfumes, toothpastes, liquors and massage oils.

 

Gardening tip for growing Cilantro - Cilantro is a good companion plant, but should not be grown near fennel. Also, growing cilantro can help attract beneficial insects to your garden, and repel harmful ones.

 

Nutrition Information

Cilantro Leaves: Vitamin A, C, E, K, B6, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate, Magnesium, Thiamin, Zinc, Iron, Calcium, Potassium, Phosphorous, Manganese, Copper, and dietary fiber.

 

Coriander: Vitamin C, Phosphorus, Zinc, Potassium, Copper, Iron, Selenium, Calcium, Magnesium, Manganese and Dietary Fiber.

Coriander is considered to be an antispasmodic, carminative and a mild sedative. It can aid digestion, eases migraines, and reduces flatulence.

 

Climate & Growing Conditions

Growing Cilantro is best in full or part-sun, in well-drained neutral pH soil. It's fairly tall (18-24") so plant cilantro where it won't shade sun-loving plants.

Gardening Tip for growing Cilantro: In good conditions Cilantro will self-sow, if you allow the seeds to develop & drop.

 

Preparing the Garden Soil

Dig the garden bed deeply with compost, before growing cilantro. Also, test the soil pH. It should be neutral (6.5-7.5) for growing cilantro.

 

Planting

In the spring, right around when you expect the final spring frost, plant cilantro seed directly in the garden soil. Cover lightly with soil. Wet the soil (misting is best, to keep from displacing the seeds), and keep the soil moist (not soggy). In 7-10 days, you should see the cilantro seedlings emerge. Thin to 10" apart.

Because Cilantro has such a short season before it goes to seed, most gardeners make successive plantings when growing cilantro. Plant additional cilantro crops 2 to 3 weeks apart, throughout the growing season.

 

Watering

Water cilantro regularly, keeping the soil moist (not soggy).

 

Fertilizing

If you applied a dose of well-rotted organic matter or compost when preparing the bed, no additional fertilizer should be needed. Otherwise, you can fertilize cilantro with a liquid fertilizer (compost tea, fish emulsion, etc.) when the plants are just getting established, but don't continue fertilizing into the season.

 

Challenges

When growing cilantro, there should be very few problems.

Gardening Tip for growing Cilantro - Cilantro will bolt (go to seed) when the temperatures climb consistently over 75 degrees. You can delay this by creating artificial shade for the cilantro plants.

 

Harvesting

Cilantro leaves: leaves - The newer (broader) leaves have a better flavor than the more mature feathery cilantro leaves. Use thinnings as plants fill in, and pick the leaves as needed.

 

Gardening Tip for growing Cilantro - Cilantro leaves don't store well. They'll keep for a week or so in the fridge. However, attempts to freeze or dehydrate cilantro will be disappointing, as the flavor significantly weakens.

 

Coriander seeds: Harvest seeds before they turn brown. Harvest by cutting the entire stem from the plant. Place the stem upside-down in a brown bag. Close the top of the bag loosely & set aside in a well-ventilated room. When dry, the seeds will release easily from the stem. Store in an airtight container to preserve flavor.