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How to Grow Cilantro

Cilantro or coriander will grow in a great variety of locations and conditions. However, it does best in sunny locations on rich, well-composted patches that are well drained. An excess of nitrogen will delay the ripening of the coriander seed, but is actually better for those who grow the plant strictly for the cilantro leaves. Nevertheless, try to harvest the leaves earlier rather than later as older leaves tend to have a stronger flavor.

For best results it is best to have relatively even temperatures over a 90 to 100 day period. Heavy rain or wind will take a toll on both the cilantro leaves and the coriander seeds. Plant the seed as soon as the soil is warm enough for germination and there is no danger of frost killing the young plant. Seeds should be planted thinly at a depth of about one inch. The rows should be at least 15 inches apart to avoid crowding.

Weed fairly frequently. Cilantro grows one to three feet high, but it can be overpowered by unwanted plants. Broadcasting seeds to form a cover crop is not recommended for the same reason. Native weeds will tend to dominate. If possible, plant in early May in temperate regions. Some leaves may be harvested in just a few weeks, but the plant will not bloom until July and the coriander seeds will not mature until early August.

The coriander seeds may be harvested when they turn light brown. The small fruit will be about 1/8 inch in diameter. To preserve them, they should be dried and split in half. This is an annual plant, but leaving the seeds go, the gardener may expect a considerable number of volunteers the next year.

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