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April 2008
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Grow Cilantro Coriander

An annual or biennial herb (Coriandrun sativum), of the Parsley Family, grown for it’s aromatic seeds which are used for flavoring liquors and confections. This pungent herb is native of southern Europe and is commonly known as Coriander, Cilantro, or Chinese Parsley. Its name is said to be derived from koris, Greek for “bedbug” since the plant smelled strongly of the insect. The leaves are most commonly referred to as cilantro and have a much different taste from the seeds, one that is similar to parsley with a dash of citrus flavor.
Cilantro is the most difficult herb to grow because it is so short lived and it needs cool temperatures to grow well. Many people think that they kill Cilantro because it doesn’t last very long when they purchase plants at their local nursery. Cilantro will bolt (send up a flower stalk) as soon as the roots get above 75 degrees or so. Cilantro needs to be grown in early spring or fall when the weather is cool. It requires mostly sunshine but can be grown in morning sun and shade in the hot afternoon. Growing it in the ground with mulch on top of the roots helps keep the soil cooler longer (Add a bit of mulch or compost to your cilantro bed to provide nutrients for the soil and an extra layer of protection for the roots).
Cilantro grows best in full sun. Plant the seed 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep every 1 inch in rows 12 inches apart. Keep moist until seeds germinate, which should take about 7 to 10 days. No thinning is required. Some growers will seed cilantro thicker than this (30 – 40 seeds/foot). Deep, fertile, light or heavy, but well-draining. Water on a regular schedule, do not overwater. The denser plant population competes more effectively with weeds in the row. In addition, the thicker planting makes harvesting easier since plants are bunched in the field. Cilantro can be started in the greenhouse and transplanted into the field. Cilantro grows best under cool conditions while hot weather encourages it to flower. Cilantro will withstand temperatures as low as 10 degrees, which makes it an excellent fall crop.
Cilantro is ready to be harvested as soon as the plant is 4 – 6 inches tall, which can take 40 to 60 days after planting. If the older, outside leaves are harvested, the plant will continue to produce new foliage until it goes to seed. The plant can
regrow for a second cutting; however, it does not regrow as efficiently as parsley. For that reason many growers just harvest it once. Cilantro can also be harvested by pulling out the whole plant.

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