In this article, we will learn how to plant, grow, and how to harvest cilantro for all your needs. But most importantly..How to harvest cilantro without killing the plant!
Cilantro (Coriandrum Sativum) belongs to the Apiaceous-parsley family of herbs but is different than parsley. It is an annual herbaceous type of plant and is one of the most popular but short-lived herbs that stems from the coriander seed.
Its growing popularity and mouth-watering aroma, along with the citrusy, spicy, and herby flavor that comes from the coriander seeds, makes it an amazing addition to all sorts of cuisines. This diversity also makes it a staple in different cultures. For example, South-Asian and Mexican cuisine use cilantro to garnish or sprinkle the freshness on their food, e.g., salsas.
Generally, the best weather to grow cilantro is during the spring and autumn. The summer days and short cool nights help in seed formation, which makes the flowers bloom. The best time to sow the cilantro seeds is two to three weeks after the frosty nights.
With all this information in mind, let us see how we can harvest cilantro and the best time to do so.
The Right Time to Harvest Cilantro
Cilantro is a cool-weather plant that grows perfectly between the optimum temperature of 50 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. The warmer the weather gets, the quicker it will sprout. However, the taste will be bitter if it grows too quickly in a hot climate.
The best time to plant cilantro in a cool-climate area is to wait till the last frost date, and this will give enough coolness and warmth to the seeds to grow. The best warm weather is to wait until late summer. The round-ribbed coriander seeds are ready for harvesting almost after 100 days of sowing; thus, keep this in mind before planting.
How to Plant Cilantro?
As soon as you understand the weather conditions, planting cilantro is the easiest thing to do. Firstly, you must choose and prepare the soil bed. Cilantro is a sun-loving plant, so it requires 6 hours of full sun. For the soil, choose a highly organic and well-draining soil. So, the bed must have advanced age compost and a pH level of 6.0 to 6.7.
Secondly, plant the cilantro seeds by keeping them a few inches apart in damp soil. Ensure that the soil is moist enough to create moisture that germinates the seeds. Once the process starts, they require more water until they are mature. At this stage, you can water it weekly.
Lastly, keep thinning the seedlings; it is essential to separate them for a fuller sprout. Moreover, keep a good sowing depth; it is recommended to seed ¼ to ½ inches deep.
Another way to plant the cilantro is in a 12-inch-deep container to grow it indoors during harsh winters and summers.
How to Look After Cilantro?
The few basic levels of maintenance include:
- Water: You don’t have to worry about routinely watering the cilantro; the plant only needs to stay moist and damp. Make sure that the plant doesn’t droop; if you see droopiness, lightly moisten the soil. It is also recommended to use organic mulch for water retention.
- Clear Weeds: The best way to stay clear of weed nutrients is simply by adding mulch; this will deter weed growth.
- Prune: If you sprout cilantro in warm weather, then there are chances that the plant will turn into flowers, making the leaves bitter. So, do check for small flowers and pinch them off before they bolt.
- Companion Planting: Grow the cilantro with other herbal plants, like dill, anise, chive, tomatoes, and many more. This will increase the growth rate and attract helpful insects.
- Feeding: Do not add fertilizer in midseason and avoid high nitrogen as the plants will sprawl.
How to Harvest Cilantro
There is no need to worry about cutting cilantro anymore; the process is simple and requires minimal effort. As soon as the cilantro plant is fully grown to at least six inches tall is the mark for you to begin harvesting. In commercial agriculture, the harvesting takes place all at once but for your regular home use, harvest what you require and leave the other plant to keep growing.
This way, your cilantro will stay fresh and healthy. To begin, use scissors to snip off the entire stem or snip individual leaves off. You don’t have to stop; keep harvesting the cilantro leaves throughout the season till the plant bolts and goes bitter.
How Many Times Can You Harvest Cilantro?
Surprisingly, if the weather in your area supports it, you can grow them throughout the year. The best way to keep the plant robustly growing is by persistent cutting. Keep trimming the plant under ideal conditions for it to last for weeks.
According to many gardeners, it is recommended never to pluck more than 30% of the single plant at a time.
As cilantro is an annual herb, it does reseed itself. Simply leave the flowers on the plant, and they will reseed and grow back again. For instance, in temperate climatic zones, the plant has a short life cycle that offers around 2-3 harvests per season.
Ways to Harvest Coriander Seeds
Coriander seeds grow when your cilantro plant naturally finishes its cycle and bolts. The plant produces flowers that grow seeds. There are many ways to harvest coriander seeds:
- You have to let the plant bolt; this way, the seeds will emerge.
- As the leaves and seeds turn brown, then snip off the stem. Later, hang the stems upside down in a cool and dry place, concealed in a paper bag.
- After ripping, the seeds will fall.
These seeds can easily be used in curry, soups, relishes, and even pickles.
Cilantro is a versatile plant used in many South-East Asian and Latin American countries. One way you can store them is in a damp kitchen towel or even keep a bunch of cilantro in a water jar for up to 72 hours.
You can refrigerate it for 7 to 10 days in water; just make sure to freshen the water after 48 hours. If you plan to store the cilantro for a more extended period, then freezing them is the best option.
Interestingly, many people make frozen herb bombs to highlight a strong flavor in stews, sauces, and curries.
Many troubleshooting problems might hinder the growing and harvesting process of cilantro.
- Pests: Be careful of Nematodes as they attack the roots of cilantro. An effective way to get rid of them is by planting marigolds nearby.
- Diseases: Some harmful diseases can penetrate and attack cilantro, such as Anthracnose and leaf spots. A way to avoid this attack is by spraying the foliage with compost tea, and it is a natural fungicide and a foliar fertilizer.
Cilantro is not just any other herb, and it provides complex, sweet, and citrusy highlights that well-combine your meal. Similarly, the coriander seeds not only amplify the flavor but leave an ever-lasting aroma as well. Thus, what is stopping you from turning your cuisine into a restaurant-style meal? Just follow the simple harvesting steps and enjoy the warmth and freshness.