Coriander is an annual herb used extensively in Asian cuisine. The fragrant feathery leaves are chopped up and sprinkled over salads, stews, curries, and stir-fries.
The seeds, whole or ground, are used in cooking to add zest to lentil, meat, and vegetable dishes. In some parts of the world, the coriander leaf is known as cilantro. Because coriander is best eaten within a few hours of harvesting, growing coriander at home is a good idea.
This flavorsome and healthy herb is fairly easy to grow in favorable conditions. Given the right temperature, air, soil, and enough water, coriander grows on its own with just a little help in the way of regular watering. Growing coriander on the ground or in large containers gives the best results rather than growing it in small pots since its long taproot needs space.
Coriander does not like extreme heat or cold and will cease to grow in such temperatures. In the tropics, winter is the best time for growing coriander, when the air is dry and cool, while in cooler climates, summer is the right growing season.
Most gardeners recommend growing coriander directly from seed because transplanting stresses this plant, causing it to bolt or go to seed prematurely before the leaves have a chance to develop fully.
While growing coriander, you want to remember that it tends to be sensitive to certain types of stress and bolts easily in extreme weather and when deprived of water.
Growing coriander in full sun without any shade at all, it will go to seed quickly, and you get hardly any leaves. So if you want plenty of lush, green leaves, ensure your plants get some shade.
Before sowing your coriander seeds, you need to prepare the soil. Weed it first, then dig and rake it, sow the seeds about five cm apart and half cm deep, then lightly cover them with some light soil.
The seeds need to remain moist in order to germinate, so you want to mist the soil daily. Though coriander thrives in the dark, nutrient-rich soil, it can grow in any soil that is adequately nourished, and for this, you can add some liquid fertilizer.
Growing coriander from seed it takes two to three weeks to germinate. When the plants are roughly five cm high, trim them to keep the plants around 20cm apart as this enables them to grow to their full height of two feet or so.
In hot weather growing coriander presents some challenges because the plants mature and go to seed in 4 to 6 weeks, therefore it is a good idea to re-sow coriander seeds every three weeks so that you have a regular supply throughout the season.
Harvest the leaves once your plants are big and strong. Since leaves and stalks are normally used, you can snip the stem from the base, leaving some intact so that the plant can keep shooting new leaves.
If you want to collect the seeds for growing coriander in the next season, harvest coriander after the flowers have died. Just cut the stems and place them upside down in a paper bag so that the stems stick out.
You can hang the bag or just keep it somewhere dry and cool. After 2 or 3 weeks, shake the bag so that the dry seeds fall into the bottom of the bag. Throw away the stems and flowers and keep the seeds dry in an airtight container for next year.
Read also: 10 Best Garden Crops For Beginners
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