Coriander is one of the most overpowering herbs I have ever tasted, seemingly taking over any dish it is added to. From talking to other people, it’s a love it or hate it herb. Fortunately, the seeds of the coriander make an excellent spice that can be used in a number of dishes.
On the plus side, home grown, fresh coriander is far superior to anything you can buy at the supermarket. It’s a difficult plant to grow, but its very fast growing, so you’ll be met with success or failure very quickly. It might take a few goes to get coriander growing well in your garden.
It will tolerate most frost-free environments but doesn’t enjoy heat much. A good temperature range is 15°C to 18°C (60 – 65°F), so autumn or spring is best. Of the two seasons, autumn is better due to its higher temperatures in the early part of the season, which encourages germination. Coriander bolts quite easily if its growing conditions change too much. Look for a bolt resistant variety when purchasing seed.
Coriander likes, light, fertile soil that is able to retain some moisture, a dry atmosphere and plenty of sun. It will not grow in wet areas well and is just about impossible to grow in tropical climates.
Coriander is grown from seed. Grow it in its final position, rather than starting it in a tray and transplanting it, as it will bolt at the slightest provocation. Sow seed a 1/4 inch (6mm) deep in rows 10 inches (25cm) apart. As the plants grow, thin to a final spacing of 8 inches (20cm) apart.
Do not plant coriander near fennel
Growing Coriander in Containers
Coriander grows decently in containers. It is easier to control the soil moisture and temperature and the environment is certainly more consistent. Unfortunately, it has a very strong smell which will cause your poor guests to turn up their noses. Give it a light water in the morning and pick the leaves from the bottom of the plant up to encourage growth.
All of the coriander plant can be used. The leaves are what is typically used at the end of cooking, but the seeds, roots and stems are all edible. The stems and roots are typically chopped and cooked to add flavor. The seed can be gathered up and used as a spice in cooking. Be watchful, as the seed heads are prone to ripening without any warning and dropping to the ground. Simply warm the seed in a pan for a few minutes, then put them through a spice grinder. The leaves will store fresh for about a week, whereas the seed will last for a number of months.
Store the leaves in a warm, dry place. It’s easy enough to store in a paper bag. Store seeds in an airtight container.