The Q&A Archives: Vegetable Garden

Question: I want to start my garden with cilintro and many others herbs cabbage etc... I have a hard time with cilantro. Should I put mulch down to prepare the garden.

Answer: It's always a good idea to add organic matter to any garden soil. Organic matter improves drainage on heavy soils, and helpswater-holding capacity on sandy soils. Incorporate compost, shredded leaves, grass clippings, well-rotted manure, or other organic matter directly into the soil when you first turn it over in the spring. (Wait a few weeks to plant if you use non-composted additions.) Then throughout the season, use grass clippings or shredded leaves as a mulch--it will keep down weeds and add even more organic matter. After preparing the soil, plant your seeds or seedlings. To suppress weeds you might want to place a thick layer of organic mulch over the bare soil.

Cilantro is a difficult herb to grow because it is so short lived and it needs cool temperatures to thrive. Many people think that they kill Cilantro because it doesn't last very long when they purchase plants at their local nursery. Cilantro will bolt (send up a flower stalk) as soon as the roots get above 75 degrees or so. With the best conditions Cilantro will only last about 8-10 weeks before flowering. Once it does flower, it will make seeds which can be harvested as Coriander seeds or they can be replanted to grow more Cilantro plants. Many people grow Cilantro by reseeding it every 3 weeks or so and they have a patch growing all summer long. Planting it very close together shades the roots and helps keep it cool.

To harvest Cilantro, you can begin cutting as soon as the plant is about 6" tall by removing the outer leaves and leaving the growing point intact for the new leaves to grow from. Another method is to wait till the plant is almost completely grown and pull it up by its roots to use the whole bunch at once.

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