Coriander has overtaken basil as the nation’s favourite fresh herb! A survey of our shopping habits tells us that the popularity of Asian and Mexican food helped boost sales to 30 million packs and bunches last year alone.
Coriander has cool-tasting, aromatic foliage and it’s full of vitamins and minerals. And it complements many different types of food.
But coriander is a really easy herb to grow! Save money on supermarket bunches and grow it in your garden for a fresh supply.
You can grow it the ground or in pots inside or outdoors, as long as it has a sunny spot. Ideally, grow it by the kitchen door so you remember to use it in your cooking.
Coriander is not hardy, so cover outdoor plants with cloches in spring to protect them from frost.
Coriander – the nation’s favourite herb. Arena Photo UK/Shutterstock.com
Sowing the seed
Coriander plants are easy to grow. ArtWell/Shutterstock.com
Coriander is usually grown from seed because it’s so cost-effective. You can buy infant plants and just pot them up, but this seems daft. It only costs a few pounds to buy several hundred seeds.
For best results, get them started in a seed tray from spring onwards. Make sure to use seed compost for good germination rates.
Sow seed very thinly, about 1cm apart, and cover with a thin layer of compost. Water in and keep the compost moist but not wet.
Loosely cover the tray with plastic – a polythene freezer bag is ideal. This creates a mini-greenhouse and stops the soil drying out.
Once the seeds start to sprout, plant out the shoots in fertile, well-drained soil.
Alternatively, sow the seed directly where you want it to grow, following the same rules. Only sow outdoors if the risk of frost has passed.
Inevitably not all the seeds will germinate, so make sure you sow plenty.
Harvest coriander regularly and dry any gluts. Anna Shepulova/Shutterstock.com
Gather leaves when needed. Keep picking to ensure the plant keeps producing more leaves and stop it getting leggy.
Why not try drying the leaves? Tie a bunch of stems together and hang up in a dry spot, then store in airtight container.
You also need to watch to make sure it doesn’t flower and set seed. Once it blooms, it will stop producing leaves. Nip off any flower stalks as soon as they appear.
But bear in mind that the plants don’t last that long. Sow seed at regular intervals to make sure you always have fresh new coriander coming up.
Keep the soil fairly moist, but watch for overwatering, especially for indoor plants.
If your plants do set flower, allow them to seed. They will self-seed around the soil to create more plants for you.
Alternatively, you can wait until the seed ripens and stops smelling unpleasant. Then you can harvest it to sow elsewhere, or use the seeds in cooking too.
Feeling inspired? Here’s my top 8 herbs for the perfect herb garden.