Coriander (Coriander Cilantro)
One of the world’s most widely grown and popular herbs, coriander is an essential addition to any kitchen garden. Used in a huge range of popular dishes from soups to curries, salads, sauces and stir fries, the leaves provide a rich and authentic eastern flavour. Dried coriander just can’t compete with the unmistakable fragrance and flavour of freshly picked home grown leaves.
Sow outdoor March to June. To grow large crops it is best to grow coriander outdoors during the summer months. Choose a sunny or partially shaded, sheltered location for best results and wait until the soil has warmed up, ideally to around 10°C+. Then sow thinly directly where plants are to grow. Make a shallow trench 0.5cm deep and cover the seeds with fine soil. Sowing in rows 20cm apart will make it easier to identify and remove any weeds that may appear. Keep the soil moist and weed free. Thin out the rows by harvesting the weaker seedlings first, leaving plants to grow on at a final spacing of around 20cm apart. Repeat sowings will ensure a continuous supply throughout the summer. To extend the growing season, early and late sowings are best made under cloches. Once established, a regular liquid feed will help maximise crops.
Top Tips About Seeds
Once the seed packet has been opened, the seeds can be stored in an airtight container until required for further sowings. Although edible, the seed supplied in the packet are not recommended for human consumption.
Coriander is ideal for sowing direct into patio pots and containers, where fresh leaves can be readily available throughout the summer. Year round crops of basil, chives, parsley, sage and thyme can also be grown indoors in pots on a windowsill.
Plants can bolt, stopping the growth of leaves and running to seed too early, if stressed by drought or by intense hot sunlight, especially if grown indoors on a windowsill. Keep indoor plants out of direct sunlight and keep the compost or soil moist at all times.
Harvest all year round, outdoor plants from late May. Pick a few leaves from each plant and they will regrow quickly without stressing the plants too much. This will allow for a good number of regular modest harvests. Alternatively cut bunches as required and re-sow regularly so there is always a succession of plants coming through. Any outdoor plants that do bolt can be harvested for seed. These can be dried or used fresh.
Ideas on how to use your coriander
When cooking with fresh coriander leaves it is best to add them at the very last minute to retain the complex flavour and aroma. If using the leaves in salads or as a garnish for soups and sauces, bruise the leaves before adding them, this will help to bring out the fragrance. Both leaves and seeds can be frozen when fresh to best preserve their flavour. It is better to freeze lots of small, individual bunches, rather than one big bag. This way the leaves will freeze more quickly, will be handled less and be preserved better.
David Domoney is a Chartered Horticulturalist, Broadcaster, and Author. David has worked with a number of the UK’s leading garden retailers as a plant buyer and strategic consultant. With more than 30 years experience, in horticulture, David is as passionate about plants now as he was when he bought his first plant at a village fete.
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