Cilantro is a fast-growing herb often used in Thai, Mexican, and Indian food. It can be grown year-round but likes slightly cool to warm temperatures. It’s grown from coriander seeds which is a spice often used in Indian cooking. So, you get two ingredients for the growing price of one! Yay!! Not to mention that cilantro isn’t too picky about it’s living conditions, so it’s really easy for anyone to grow.
I liked to get my students planting cilantro because it only takes three weeks to grow, and it’s an awesome way to teach children how food goes from seed to table (something I didn’t experience until a few years ago). It’s a really valuable lesson. Also, it’s fun/funny to see kids reactions to its weird taste! hehe.
A couple years ago, I let my cilantro plants go to seed and ended up with a whole jar full of them. I’ve been giving them away, but I still have more than I could ever use. Seeds should be used within a year or two or they aren’t as likely to grow. I’ll post a blog about seed-saving later if anyone is interested.
If you’d like some seeds, and you live in Japan please email me and I’ll send you some for free. I’d ideally like to start both a seed-sharing and a spice-sharing group on my Community Forum. That should happen in the next couple weeks.
Growing means experimenting. Have fun trying things out! Let me know how you do or if you have any questions in the comment box below.
(^ ^) Kimberly
HOW TO plant your Cilantro Seeds:
- Fill a pot or planter with potting mix, and mix in a little compost (a couple handfuls for a 9- inch diameter pot…the amount isn’t important but it will add some nutrients to the soil).
- To jumpstart the growing process, squeeze each seed in between fingers so that they crack like a nut.
- Use your finger to push holes in the soil about a half-inch deep and about 3-inches apart.
- Place one seed in each hole. Each seed should sprout two small plants.
- Cover with soil.
- Water soil thoroughly (see note on watering style).
- Then water again anytime the soil is dry to the touch.
- When the seedlings sprout in about 7 days (depending on weather conditions), there will probably be two plants very close together. So, thin if necessary (see note on thinning). Keep plant in full sun or light shade.
- Cilantro should be ready to harvest in about 3 weeks. Harvest leaves when they are still young for the best flavor. You can continue to harvest longer if you just cut off the outside leaves, leaving the inner new leaves so they can grow.
- Seed depth: The general rule of planting seeds is that they should be planted about ‘3 times the size of the seed’ deep.
- Watering style: depends on the type of plant. Rather than being watered frequently, cilantro likes to be watered thoroughly when the soil is dry to the touch.
- Use a spray bottle because the mist pulls in Oxygen and adds it to the soil, and doesn’t wash away the nutrients.
- Add water to the bottom tray when plant is growing. It will get soaked up into the soil. This encourages the roots to grow deeper, also helps prevent nutrients from being washed out.
- Thinning seedlings: The general rule of thinning seedlings is that you should wait until they have 3 “true leaves” and then pick the weaker looking of the two plants. The first two leaves that pop up are not true leaves. On many plants these leaves are heart-shaped like a four-leaf clover’s, but for cilantro they are just long and stringy. The true leaves come after and are the shape of the cilantro you are used to.
- Harvesting: The leaves should be picked as close to the base of the plant as possible to encourage more growth in the rest of the plant.
- Growing season: Cilantro takes 3 weeks to harvest, and has a very short life cycle. It tends to bolt quickly if not getting enough water or nutrients (bolt means that will flower and is at the end of its life cycle). So, if you want a continuous supply of fresh and yummy cilantro, you can plant new plants every 3 weeks.
- Where to plant: Cilantro can be planted around other plants that you have in planters or in your garden (got that tip from seeing the plants at the local Indian restaurant). It’s a good companion plant to many vegetables because bugs don’t like its strong smell.
If you have any comments or questions, please share below. Thanks!