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Growing cilantro might seem difficult unless one understands the needs and conditions under which this herb thrives. The first crop of cilantro should be sown immediately after the last frost, in an area that receives plenty of sunlight. The soil should be well drained and kept moist. Successive plantings of cilantro seeds are important to keep a supply of the herb readily available. Cilantro plants should be cultivated to become bushy rather than tall and leggy.
Cilantro grows best when sown in the area where it will grow to maturity. It does not do well when transplanted, so starting a crop indoors ahead of the growing season and transplanting it outside later is not advised. One should plan on sowing cilantro seeds immediately after the last frost.
A lot of seeds should be planted in a sunny area. The easiest way is for a person to rake off about 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) of topsoil and sow the seeds, then cover the area with a thin layer of soil and water it well. Cilantro plants will grow and thrive until the warm weather hits. When temperatures climb higher than about 85 degrees Fahrenheit (29.4 degrees Celsius), the plants will stop growing and produce seeds.
Sowing new seed every few weeks will ensure that fresh quantities of the herb are available throughout the growing season. In warmer areas, growing some of the cilantro crop in a partially shaded area is advised. These plants will last a little longer than the main crop. Growing cilantro indoors is another good way to have fresh herb available throughout the summer months.
Cilantro is an easy plant to grow indoors. The seeds should be sown in deep pots to accommodate the long roots of the plant. A good potting soil supplemented with a natural fertilizer, such as a fish emulsion, will produce healthy strong plants. The soil should be allowed to get nearly dry to the touch before it is watered, and then it should be drenched thoroughly.
The tops of seedlings should be pinched off to encourage the growing cilantro plants to become bushy rather than leggy. If the seedlings are growing too closely together, some plants can be pulled out and used for cooking. Every part of the plant is edible, including the roots. As the plants grow, the tender first leaves can be cut off and used in cooking and salads. The light green early leaves have a better taste than the more mature leaves, which can be bitter and tough.
When the plants go to seed, the cilantro plot should be allowed to seed itself. The flowers will produce seeds that also are edible and are known as coriander. If one leaves some flower heads to seed the garden, there will be fresh crops of cilantro throughout the fall season. Although this plant is considered to be an annual, the seeds are resistant to moisture and cold. Growing cilantro in any year should produce self-sown plants for many years to follow.
If you have a spot in your garden for cilantro, it is easy to simply make an entire herb garden. In addition to cilantro, planting different types of mint plants, dill, parsley, rosemary, and other herbs makes a great border for other types of plants in your garden. You will also have wonderful fragrances that waft through the air from your plants, and plenty of herbs when they mature to use for all kinds of recipes.
Another variation for planting an herb garden that includes cilantro is to create a separate location that is close to your house. You can do this in a section of a flower garden, or in a rock garden. The variety of herbs that you plant in this specialty garden will be close by when you are ready to use them for cooking.
I love to plant cilantro in a square flower box in my kitchen window. There is plenty of sun in this spot, and the plants are close by and convenient for me to care for each day. They also add beautiful greenery and a fresh scent to my home.
As the cilantro grows in my kitchen, it is handy to snip some off to add to dishes as I cook. Replacing the used plants with fresh seeds every few weeks ensures that I have plenty of fresh cilantro every time I want to add it to soups, salads, and other recipes.