Sunday, March 7, 2010

Growing Cilantro

It is a glorious weekend in Columbus Ohio. The sun is shining brightly and its current angle to the earth is casting the most beautiful and intense shadows on the melting snow. The sun's warming rays feel heavenly on skin, penetrate windows to warm wood floors, and heat the dark deck so quickly that it makes the air wavy. Snow that has been mounded up by snow plows is melting into formations that are so intricate and unique that only nature can conceive. The air is crisp, refreshing, and promising.

Although I love the snow, I also love how winter transforms into spring. It is the transformation to spring that has me planning for the warmer days and the different delights to come.

The intense flavors of home grown food are incomparable. I have a few plans/experiments for this year, they are blueberries, cilantro, basil, and rosemary.

There are three main parts of the cilantro plant. The first part includes the lower leaves, which is the cilantro or Chinese parsley, pungent and tangy leaves that some love and others abhor. The second is the upper and much less tasty foliage, that resembles dill. Finally, there are the spicy-citrus coriander seeds.

Cilantro should be planted after the chance of frost, or indoors in pots, in well-drained, slightly acid soil. (To see dates of last frost for your area, visit NOAA here.) Avoid transplanting cilantro as it grows a deep tap root and is not tolerant of transplanting. Keep seeds evenly moist and gradually thin until plants are 12" apart.

Cilantro can be harvested when several stems develop. Leaves are best when picked fresh, but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks or dried for later use (dried cilantro is typically much more mild in flavor). When tiny white or lavender flowers appear, plant is past its flavor peak.

What is important to understand about cilantro is its aversion to heat. When soil temperatures edge over 75 degrees, the plant will bolt (switch from producing leaves to producing flowers & seeds). So it is best to give the plant morning or afternoon sun and protected it from the heat of the day. Using mulch and watering frequently also helps to keep soil temperature down. But even with the best care, cilantro is a short lived herb. Prune frequently to get the most from this tasty plant and prolong it from bolting. Successive plantings are recommended for a continuous supply.

For this information and more, visit

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...