Grow coriander, (Coriandrum sativum) is an aromatic herb widely used in oriental cuisine but still little known in our tradition, but it can also be easily grown in our garden. By its health properties, this plant, also known as “Chinese parsley, deserves to be introduced more often in the gardens and experimented as a seasoning spice in our dishes, also drawing inspiration from foreign recipes.
Those who want to try to grow and taste coriander can follow some tips below to obtain it easily, even with organic farming techniques. Both the leaves and the seeds of this aromatic can be consumed. The leaves of coriander all have a strong, particular odor, not pleasing to everyone, but which lends itself to various types of seasoning. The fruit seed is very aromatic, they are small hard spheres that are ground like pepper.
The plant is annual, herbaceous, with an erect and branched stem, about 40 to 60 cm tall. Cultivation for family needs does not take up much space and can easily take a corner of the mixed herb bed, or even a pot on the balcony.
When it blooms in spring-summer, it emits small pinkish-white flowers, collected in umbels (in fact the species is part of the Umbelliferae family, like cumin and fennel). The resulting fruit consists of two small yellow-brown achenes gathered in a sphere.
Climate and soil suitable for cultivation
We must not think of coriander as an exotic species, it is a plant that can safely live in our climates. This aromatic is not particularly demanding regarding the soil, and also as a display, it fits quite well.
However, depending on the light it receives, some parts of the plant are enhanced better than others. For this reason, if we cultivate it to collect the seeds, we must dedicate a space to the sun, while if we are interested in the coriander leaves it is preferable to place it in partial shade. Depending on the variety, coriander is more or less resistant to cold: large-fruited varieties are more sensitive than small-fruited ones.
How and when to sow
The most suitable season for sowing coriander is spring, in a period between March and May depending on the latitude in which you are located. Anticipating sowing too much when ambient temperatures are still low is counterproductive, but late sowing that meets heat is also not recommended, as plants would seed early before forming beautiful foliage.
Sowing can be done directly in the garden, or “planted”, in two different ways: in rows and broadcast. It is not excluded to be able to seed the seedlings first and then transplant them, but considering that it is a species that is grown rather dense, even planting is more efficient and is carried out in the same way as parsley is sown.
The soil must first be well moved and refined, to guarantee the crop a good substrate to germinate. In addition to the compost that is incorporated previously, it is useful to add a few handfuls of organic pelleted fertilizer to the soil.
Sowing in rows about 25-30 cm apart makes the crop more orderly and then allows you to manage spontaneous herbs. It is difficult to leave a predetermined space between one seed and another. also because not all coriander seeds germinate at 100% and leaving space could lead to unnecessary failures. For this reason, it is better to leave about 1 cm between one seed and another, and in case of too thick birth, then thin out the seedlings.
In the case of cultivation in pots or a very small rectangle of the mixed herbs flowerbed, broadcast sowing is also fine, optimizing the little space available to the maximum.
Weed control. Between the sown rows it is possible to work with a hoe or a hoe, to eliminate the spontaneous grass. This gesture also performs the function of aerating the earth and breaking the surface crust, which is formed above all in loamy and clayey soils, on which it is not uncommon to see evident cracks.
Fertilizations. During the growth of the crop, it is not necessary to add other nourishment to the soil, if not some macerate of nettle or other plants, with which if desired we can do a sort of fertigation.
Irrigation. As far as water is concerned, it is necessary to intervene often but without large irrigation volumes. The ideal is to lay the drip irrigation pipes and open the taps always rely on the soil moisture, one of the best indicators that guide us in choosing whether and how much to irrigate.
Collect and store the spice
Coriander is an aromatic herb that is worth double: we can collect both the seeds and the leaves, two products that have distinct flavors and uses and are both to be discovered.
Collection of leaves
The collection of the leaves can take place at any time of the season, cutting the bunches with a knife or scissors, just like it is done with parsley. Care is taken not to cut the stems close to the ground, but above the vegetative heart, to ensure new shoots and continue cultivation.
Since ancient times, coriander has been used to soothe digestive system disorders, such as abdominal swelling and digestive difficulties, but taken in large quantities it could interfere with some drugs and in these cases, it is advisable to consult a doctor.
For the collection of coriander seeds, it is best to choose the cool hours of the morning, after the dew has dried. The browned umbrellas are cut and hung to dry in bunches that are not too tight and possibly wrapped in cloths that protect them from dust. The suitable place is a cool and ventilated room in the shade. Once drying is complete, the umbrellas are beaten and the seeds are extracted, which will then be placed in glass jars or jars and stored in a cool, dark place.
Not everyone knows that coriander is one of the ingredients that make up the well-known curry, along with black pepper, cumin, cinnamon, turmeric, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, fenugreek, and chili. Used alone, the seeds can flavor soups, meat dishes, marinades, and other dishes.
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