For those who have tried growing Cilantro and failed, like I have many times, I wanted to share with you my success. I have grown large crops of Cilantro every year…successfully!! This is what I do and how I preserve it.
First, Cilantro is a short lived annual. It bolts quickly as the days get warmer and longer no matter how much you try to pinch off the flower buds. So PLANT IT NOW! I plant my Cilantro each February, even in frosty weather, and harvested it all by mid-April. That was all. My crops that I had planted after February bolted so quickly that there were no leaves to harvest. However, if your plants bolt too quickly, let the seeds develop and harvest them. Use them for coriander in cooking or use them to plant next year!
Plant from transplants (available at The Greenery now) or seed started indoors. When you plant Cilantro outside, plant on an east or south facing exposure to prevent damage from significant frost. The plants need about 4 hours of sun or more. Make sure you have added fresh compost or planting mix, I like Harvest Supreme, and a good balanced fertilizer like Gardner & Bloome’s Tomato, Vegetable and Herb food. Don’t cheat on the soil preparation. As my former coworker Janet says “If you want the maximum from your plants, don’t give them the minimum.” If the plants don’t have rich enough soil you will have a poor crop.
After planting, keep moist but not soggy. Be on the lookout for aphids or whitefly so they don’t damage your tender crop. If you do find some, drop by the nursery right away and we can show you what you can safely use to kill them.
Harvest Cilantro when the foliage is full and lush. You can harvest at any time and continue until the plants bolt too vigorously. I usually get 2 thorough harvests from my plants.
Cilantro is a tricky herb to preserve. It doesn’t keep fresh very long and looses most of its flavor when dried. I have found that freezing it is the best. First wash and spin the leaves dry (I use my salad spinner!). Next chop them to desired size (think of how you are gonna use it). I chopped mine moderately small since I was going to be sprinkling it on nachos, in tacos, making salsa and guacamole. Lay the chopped leaves on lined cookie trays (lining them makes it easier to collect the frozen leaves) and place tray(s) in the freezer for a couple hours. Once frozen, collect the leaves and save in your favorite freezer container. I like the plastic freezer jars. I had 2 pints of frozen leaves from my 9 producing plants! Now the frozen leaves will turn dark brown once they thaw which literally takes seconds once removed from the freezer but don’t let the color fool you, the flavor is spot on!
Hope this helps you grow Cilantro successfully too!
You Can Grow That is a group of Garden Writers that Adria is a member of. This group is passionate about promoting gardening for the greater good.