Coriander growing tipsCoriander grows better during the cooler months of the year. During summer, coriander plants change rapidly from leafy to seedy (this is called ‘bolting to seed’) and it’s almost impossible to have a crop on hand for use in the kitchen in the hot months. During autumn, winter and spring, however, coriander stays nicely leafy for a number of months.
Ideal conditions: coriander likes a sunny spot, well-drained soil and a steady supply of both water and fertiliser. It grows equally well in pots or in garden beds. If using pots, use top quality potting mix and sit the pots up on pot feet, so water drains away after each watering.
Sowing seed: this gives best results in the long run. Sow coriander seed 6mm deep in rows 24cm apart. Each plant should be 20cm apart, but our tip is to sow your seeds just 10cm apart (just in case some seeds don’t come up) and later on, if plants are a bit crowded together, pull out the weakest seedlings (but use these in the kitchen!) so the remainder are 20cm apart.
Planting seedlings: coriander seedlings are sold at most garden centres. Aim to buy the smallest healthy seedlings, rather than big ones (which might be pot-bound). Often coriander is sold with many plants crammed into one pot. For best results, try to separate the seedlings out into individual plants, and plant these spaced 20cm apart.
Fertilising/watering: keep the soil lightly moist (in the cooler months, this probably means watering potted herbs about twice a week if it doesn’t rain). Fertilise monthly with a liquid or soluble plant food, such as Nitrosol.
Harvesting/cooking: you can snip off as many leaves as you need, and more will grow back, but you can also pull up the whole plant if you like. If using the whole plant, you can use all of it: the leaves, stems and roots. Stems and roots have the strongest flavour and, if crushed, chopped and cooked, add a lot of flavour to dishes. If using coriander as a herb garnish added towards the end of cooking, the leaves are the best choice.
Using coriander seed: if you want to grow coriander for the seed, to use as a spice in cooking, it's quite easy to harvest and dry the seed. Wait until the coriander plant flowers (with coriander grown at this time of year, this might not happen until spring) then after the flowers fade the seed clusters will form. As the plants finally start to die down in spring, snip off all the seed clusters and put them in a paper bag. Hang the bag up somewhere dry (eg, in a garden shed, or the pantry) and the seeds should be dry in a few weeks. That's it. So easy.
To use the coriander seed in the kitchen, each time you need to crush some to make coriander powder, measure out the amount of seeds needed (roughly), warm up a dry teflon frypan, toss in the seed and shake about for a minute or so until you can smell the aroma coming off. Now, immediately toss the seeds into a spice grinder (eg, coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle) and grind the seeds to a powder.