A Quick Guide to Growing Cilantro
If you tend to use a lot of herbs while you cook, you want to consider growing cilantro. Cilantro is a cool weather herb and is perfect to use fresh in salsa and chicken dishes (although it goes well with many other foods). Few people realize that cilantro is the leafy part of the coriander plant, in which the seeds are often referred to as the coriander herb. Growing coriander is a pretty simple task and doesn’t require any previous knowledge of gardening or herbs! Just follow the steps below and you will soon find yourself enjoying delicious home-grown cilantro.
Growing Cilantro Indoors
As mentioned earlier, cilantro is a cool weather herb, which means that unless you live in a cooler climate, you probably don’t have the right climate to grow cilantro year round. The best solution to get around this is to grow this herb indoors. To do this, you will need a terra cotta container (preferably one which hasn’t been finished with a glazed coat). The ideal pot will have a few good-sized drainage holes with a drainage plate fitted to the bottom. You can always use a makeshift drainage plate using a disposable foam pate or the lid from a coffee container. You will also need nutrient-rich soil mixed with a bit of sand as well as a liquid fertilizer. A packet of cilantro seeds can be obtained from a local garden nursery nearly year round. You might just want to start out with one packet until you get a feel for how much fresh cilantro you will use. You can always plant more later if you need it.
Start by filling the container with the soil and sand mixture. Sprinkle the cilantro seeds over the soil as evenly as possible to give the seeds plenty of room to grow roots. Give the soil a light watering. You really just need enough water to dampen the soil, so be careful not to pour too much water into the dirt. Overwatering could result in killing the seeds before they get a chance to sprout. Add the fertilizer according to the directions on the package. Continue to fertilize this herb every two or three weeks for optimum growth. Finally, find a nice sunny windowsill that will accommodate the pot. Your cilantro should get at least four or five hours of sunlight each day in order to grow properly. The best type of sunlight would be morning or afternoon sunlight as this is less intense and is less likely to heat the plant, which should ideally be kept at a temperature below 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A sun lamp may also be used; in fact, a sun lamp often provides better results than a sunny window!
General maintenance involves keeping the plant watered. Herbs do well with watering and regular “misting” with a spray bottle. To determine whether the soil needs to be watered, stick your fingertip about half an inch into the soil. If it is dry, then your plant definitely needs to be watered!
Growing Cilantro Outdoors
If you live in the right climate, cilantro can really flourish outdoors. To plant your cilantro seeds outside, you will need a shovel or garden trowel, compost, and cilantro seeds. Dig an area about six inches in width and about two inches deep. Mix a bit of compost in with the soil to add a few nutrients. After the soil and compost are well mixed, sprinkle the seeds over the area and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Finish it off by watering the area well. As with growing cilantro indoors, it is important to keep the soil from drying out between watering. Rake the top of the soil with your fingertips every now and then to determine whether the soil needs to be watered. Fertilizer really isn’t necessary for cilantro that is grown outdoors because the roots are able to draw more nutrients from the surrounding soil.