Cooking with products grown at home can be a very fulfilling feeling. While it may be hard to have a full fledged garden in small homes in the city, almost all enthusiasts can find a sunny spot to keep a small pot or two. Growing carrots in tiny apartment would be like asking for the moon, but there is no reason why we cannot try to grow some herbs on a window sill or any spot where the sun can peek into your apartment. Herbs can make cooking interesting and to top it they add a dash of health to food. They are examples of the maxim ‘Your food is your medicine’.
Coriander is also called Cilantro or Chinese Parsley or Japanese Parsley and it is used commonly in cooking. Both the seeds and the leaves can be used. It is also beneficial to health in many ways. It is a carminative, meaning that it can reduce intestinal gas. It is a diuretic and helps to flush out toxins from the body. It is applied on the knee to reduce knee pain, heals ulcers, helps in digestion and reduces headaches. It has a mild flavour. Coriander is an annual herb. It grows in temperatures that are not too hot nor too cold. Extremes in temperature is not good for the plant.
Loosen the top soil with a spade. Add fallen leaves, rotting leaves, manure and any other compost. Mix this into the top two to three inches of the soil. Then gently even the soil with a rake. The soil is now ready for planting. Coriander grows best in tropical climate. It is sun loving, so it is better to put it outdoors, rather than put them in a pot indoors. If you do not have access to a patch on the outdoors, you could put it in a pot and leave it in a place where maximum sunshine streams into the room. If you put it in a pot ensure that there are holes at the bottom for drainage of excess water. Sowing the seeds is done in early spring time, somewhere between March and May. The plants need very little water and it would not be good to over water them. They will grow anywhere between one to two feet tall. The plants have delicate roots.
The plants should be used fresh, as they lose flavour when they are dried. You can harvest them when they are about six inches tall. The seeds are also used in cooking. Seeds should be harvested when ripe and when they are still on the plant. It is not advisable to wait until they fall to the ground. They should then be stored in air tight containers so as not to lose the aroma. The seeds are usually ground before being used in cooking, but if you store the ground seeds, they tend to lose aroma faster. Home grown herbs have the advantage of being fresh from the soil.