Coriander is a herb that often inspires one of two passionate responses at the kitchen table generally either ‘yum’ or ‘yuck’. My first experience of it was decades ago in soups in Peru where a delicious flavour was compromised by unpleasant chunks of veiny meat that bobbed on the surface. Since then I have enjoyed it in delicious Thai and Indian dishes and it is now a firm favourite in our kitchen.
Companions Asparagus, chervil, spinach, beans, peas.
Quantity 1 plant per person as a successive sowing.
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A warm comforting peaceful garden soup with a hint of smoked paprika to enhance the roasted tomato floavour.
Sow or plant in early spring when all risk of frosts has passed and continue to sow and plant fresh stock every 3 to 4 weeks for a continuous supply. In warmer areas Coriander can also be sown and planted in the autumn and grown through winter.
Coriander likes sunshine morning and afternoon but it is best if you can protect it from the scorching midday sun. It grows very well in pots and window boxes.
Coriander likes a free-draining soil that doesn’t hold onto moisture for very long – a watering can of water poured onto the soil should drain away within 30 minutes or so. A fertile, sandy soil with a bit of organic matter dug through it – kitchen compost, well rotted manure, sheep pellets or worm compost – is ideal. If your soil is sticky then dig in coarse sand or fine pumice to help improve drainage – or plant in a pot or bucket with holes in the bottom.
In early spring, sow seeds a finger-tip deep in trays or punnets filled with seed compost and keep on a warm window sill or in a greenhouse until weather has warmed outdoors. Water to keep compost moist and thin seedlings as they develop. Seedlings should have as much space between each other as they are tall.
When your seedlings are about a finger’s length in height and the weather has settled and is reliably warm and sunny, plant seedlings at an average spacing of a good hand’s length to a forearm apart. Protect with a plastic juice bottle cloche as plants establish.
Remove cloches as plants establish. Water coriander at the base of the plant.
Pick regularly to encourage fresh foliage. Allow a few plants to flower and they’ll attract bees, parasitoid wasps and hoverflies into your garden. These plants can then self-seed and reward you with yet more plants in the seasons to come.
Sow a new batch of plants every four weeks from spring onwards to ensure a long and aromatic harvest.