Herbs have always been a weakness of mine. They either grow too tall, too fast, bolt immediately, or wither and die in days. However, in my new hydroponics system I’ve just planted cilantro seeds, so I’m hopeful my days of killing herbs are over!
This guide, however, should help even the most novice herb-grower succeed. Or at least give you a fighting chance!
If planting cilantro outside, plant in the spring after the last frost date or in the fall. If you live in an area with a short Spring, I would recommend planting in the fall; the heat will cause cilantro to bolt early.
If planting indoors or in a pot, the timing doesn’t matter as much as long as you can regulate the temperature well.
Cilantro prefers partial sun to full sun. Again, if planting outdoors, plant it in an area where it can self-seed and you’ll get a beautiful patch of low-maintenance cilantro year after year.
Cilantro requires loamy soil that drains water quickly that carries a pH of between 6.2 and 6.8.
Plant seeds 1-2 inches apart, in rows 12 inches part. As the plants start to fill out, thin the seedlings to about 6 inches apart.
Water seeds and seedlings regularly. Moisture is essential for their germination. However once plants are established, they should only require about 1 inch of water a week.
Harvesting the Leaves
Regularly harvest leaves from your cilantro throughout its lifecycle. If your growing season is coming to a close, or you want to harvest the seeds, allow the middle stalk to grow unfettered, and you’ll soon see flowers and seed pods.
Harvesting the Seeds
Once the flower and seed pods have developed and the plant has begun to turn brown, collect the heads of the plant and put them in a paper bag. Hang the bag until the plant dries completely and the seeds fall off themselves.
Medicinal/Nutritional Information on Cilantro
Cilantro is a great source of anti-oxidants (quercetin, kaempferol, rhamnetin), minerals (potassium, calcium, manganese, iron), and vitamins (folic-acid, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-A, beta carotene, vitamin-C).
I doubt anyone’s going to eat 100g of Cilantro, but I found the stats below very interesting.
This humble backyard herb provides (% of Recommended Daily Allownace/100g):
15% of folates,
11% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine),
45% of vitamin C,
225% of vitamin A,
258% of vitamin K,
22% of iron and
18% of manganese.
I use cilantro in salsa, Mexican and Indian dishes. I chop fresh in summer to freeze to use in the winter. My patch self-sows every year, full sun and not particularly rich soil is best for herbs. I recommend sowing every few weeks to keep the supply coming all summer.