It seems to have divided the culinary world – some swear by it; others think it tastes like soap. You can’t deny though that coriander is a deal-breaker herb in many dishes. You either love the stuff or hate it. Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is an essential element of many Asian, Latin-American and Indian cuisines and a must in your herb garden. A plant by many names (cilantro, dhania, Chinese parsley), coriander is easy to grow and can be planted from leftover seeds you have in your spic rack. This pungent herb grows quickly and requires little maintenance. Its distinct fragrance acts as a sweet-smelling attraction to beneficial garden insects and a handy repellent to pests. You can plant the seeds in containers to sit on a windowsill or balcony, as long as the spot gets
some sun. But be wary; coriander can be sensitive to sunlight – too much could cause your plant to flower and
go to seed. If this ends up being the case, simply harvest the seeds and use them to add aroma and flavour to your cooking. Sowing seeds works better than transplanting seedlings, so go this route to make your life much easier.
SOWING TIME: Spring to autumn
CLIMATE: Cool temperature
LOCATION: Full sun
BEST FRIENDS: Tomatoes, star anise, beans, potatoes
BAD COMPANION: Fennel
- pH 6.5–7.5 Well-drained, fertile loam
- Work in a rich compost prior to planting.
✢ Sow seeds about 1 cm deep and 15–20 cm apart.
✢ Seeds germinate in 7–12 days.
✢ Successive plantings in two-week intervals for a regular supply.
NUTRITION AND CARE
✢ If you’re growing coriander in a container, choose a deep pot to accommodate its long taproot.
✢ Water regularly throughout the growing season. It doesn’t need
as much once it’s established.
✢ It’s a medium feeder, but doesn’t like humidity – avoid overwatering.
✢ The plant will go to seed quickly in hot weather.
Snip off the leaves as required when the plant is robust enough to cope. Regular harvesting of leaves encourages bushy growth, but leave enough to ensure the plant continues to grow healthily. ✢ To harvest seeds, wait until the flowers have died, then cut the heads, tie a paper bag over them and hang upside down in a dry place. Wait a few weeks. Shake the bag so that the dry seeds fall to the bottom of the bag.
✢ Use the seeds for seasoning, or blend dried or fresh green seeds into pastes for curries or stir-fries.
Blend and freeze coriander in ice cube trays, or simply freeze the leaves and stems whole and chop up to use in dishes when needed.
✢ Seeds can be ground or stored whole in airtight containers.
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