One of my favorite plants to grow in the early spring is Cilantro. I like to get that pungent taste and freshness, as well as the health benefits, into our diet as soon as possible. Growing cilantro from seed is the only way to frugally get the organic supply I want. This year I ran across an article on Pinterest from Sunset Magazine that promises an easy way to grow cilantro and always have it available, so I thought I would give it a try.
Cilantro is a herb packed with antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Genetic factors influence the way that people taste cilantro – some people love it, and some hate it! To grow Cilantro, you’ll need seeds (of course), water (also of course), a shallow 6-inch container, potting soil, seedling mix, and plastic wrap. The “Cut and Come Again Method” references a special way to harvest your Cilantro. Sunset Magazine recommends that, each time you need cilantro from your plant, you cut a piece off from a different section. That way, none of the plants in any area mature, and will continue sprouting new leaves as you cut.
Read on to learn all about Cilantro and the Cut and Come Again Method.
A Few Lesser Known Facts about Cilantro
Cilantro leaves, also known as Chinese parsley is a versatile herb with a distinctive sweet-musky flavor which is heavily used in Thai, Mexican, and Caribbean cuisines. It gives dishes a nice kick when used fresh or dried (dried seeds are known as coriander), but it also packs some serious health benefits.
Cilantro has antioxidant properties, it helps remove heavy metal buildups from the body, and it can boost the effects of antivirals and antibiotics.
Cilantro is also rich in minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. It also supports digestive health and it is a trusty ally in detoxification treatments, which is why it is sometimes referred to as an (underrated) superfood.
People either love or hate cilantro, but there’s a genetic reason for not liking it, as scientists have recently found.
In the summer, the herb reaches maturity in around 40- 45 days. If it is too hot, though, the plant will struggle, and this will show in a less-than-ideal foliage. Just like parsley, cilantro can thrive with the cut-and-come-again harvesting technique.
Cilantro, pleasantly, resists pests with its strong scent. Occasionally, aphids can be attracted to Cilantro, but their colonies typically stay small and can be pruned off the infested portions. In fact, flowering cilantro can attract many types of beneficial insects to your garden.
Growing Cilantro – The Cut and Come Again Method
Growing cilantro from seed is the only way to frugally get the organic supply you want.
For growing cilantro choose a wide, shallow 6-inch container to sow your seeds. You can get a special bowl or just use a recycled plastic container. It just needs adequate drainage.
- Use potting soil for the bottom 5 inches, make sure it is moistened
- Put the cilantro seeds in pretty thickly (just ignore seed packet instructions to space the seeds 16 to 18 inches apart; stick to this rule if you want to grow cilantro for seeds, namely as coriander); if you grow it for the leaves, you will not be thinning the plants out as they grow
- Cover the seed with enough seedling mix to 1/4 an inch and water it all in; keep in the dark until germination occurs
- Cover the entire container with plastic wrap, making a mini greenhouse that traps moisture in
- Consider using a recycled milk jug planter instead, then cut off the top once your cilantro seeds sprout. No fashion statements here, but frugal gardening at its best!
- Once the seeds sprout, move the container outdoors in semi-shade and away from drafts for the first seven days. Accommodate the young plants to the elements for a couple of hours the first day then move them back indoors; increase gradually the time seedlings spend outdoors over the first week; if it’s really cold or windy, don’t leave the seedlings outside.
- Once the plants are hardened off, wait for the plants to get big enough to harvest. Keep them well watered and fed until then.
Note: For cilantro, use fertilizer formulas rich in nitrogen as nitrogen encourages the development of new greenery – make sure that the first number at least matches or is bigger than the second number (i.e., phosphorus) and the third number (i.e., potassium). If you’re growing the plant for its seeds forgo the fertilizer until it bolts, namely produces seed, keep it in full sun and be a Scrooge with the watering. When growing for the leaves do the exact opposite.
We’ve had about 10 days of niceness in the Pacific NW this spring! The rest of the time it’s been cold and rainy. It took my cilantro plants 60 days to reach the size of these pictures.
If I would have grown my pot inside by a window, I’m sure the harvest would have been quicker. If you live in a warmer area, you will probably need to consider ways to keep the plants shaded and cool.
According to the Sunset magazine article, as soon as plants are 3 to 4 inches tall and sporting a couple of cuttable leaves, use scissors to cut off some foliage for cooking.
They also suggest that if you shear the plant from a different section of the container every time, rotating the pot as you go, it will never let the plants in any area mature. So, by the time you get back to the first section harvested, new leaves will have appeared.
After two months…
So did it work? So far – so good! I’ve taken a few cutting from my cilantro bowl and the plants appear to be thriving.
What will I do with all that cilantro, you ask?
If I can’t use it in cooking or making salsa then I chop it up and freeze it in ice cube trays. The perfect way to have cilantro for hot summer days.
You could also make delicious cilantro lime butter from your fresh cilantro harvest. Use 8 parts butter, 4 parts cilantro and 1 part lime juice (don’t use lemon juice as it is too overpowering).
This butter freezes nicely, preserving all flavors, textures, and stuff even after 6 months in the freezer. Scale up or down the recipe according to your needs.
Happy gardening! What other crops have you had success with this year? Leave a comment below.
Looking for a great family owned company to get your seeds from? Buy Cilantro at Seeds for Generations!
Check out PreparednessMama’s other post on setting up a continuous cilantro supply: How to Dehydrate Cilantro.
There are affiliate links in this post. Thanks for supporting PreparednessMama in this way.