Can You Grow Cilantro Indoors? [A Simple Guide for 2020]
Cilantro seems to be taking over the world one taco al pastor or bowl of pho at a time. But how easy is it to grow coriander indoors in 2020, and why should you?
This popular aromatic herb has been cultivated for over 3,000 years. In ancient China, people believed it could give you immortality, while the Romans and Egyptians used it as a common ingredient for love potions — a reminder of it’s aphrodisiac properties.
Today, this fragrant plant is easier to grow than ever. Even if you live in a small house or apartment with no yard or direct sunlight, you can still enjoy top-quality, home-grown cilantro and coriander seeds. Keep reading our guide to find out how.
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Why Growing Culinary Herbs Indoors is Important in 2020
We are living in a world of transition. At the time of writing this blog post, a global pandemic is making us rethink how and where we work. Protests are taking place in cities all over the world, expressing discontent for systemic inequities. The effects are causing anxiety about essentials that we’ve been taking for granted for three-quarters of a century, such as easy food access, consistent potable water availability, and fair wages that cover the cost of our homes or apartments.
Growing a substantial part of our food at home is not new to our culture. It’s not even all that old of a practice. Those who were alive during the Second World War will remember victory gardens.
Victory gardens helped reduce demand for produce needed for the production of canned foods sent to troops worldwide. Homegrown food in the United States supplied nine million tons of fruits and vegetables during the war, equal to all of the commercial products produced in the U.S. during that time.
If the home gardener succeeded once at rivaling commercial produce production, they could do it again, and this time better, with 21st-century methods.
So, how can you grow cilantro indoors that not only feeds your family but leaves enough harvest to share or sell in various ways around the community? Read on, and we’ll show you how to start and maintain a hydroponic garden with simple and cost-effective methods that will give you and perhaps your neighbors a consistent supply of healthy homegrown food.
How to Grow Coriander Indoors with Hydroponics [A 4-Step Guide]
Pick a Seed Variety
Choose a Growing Container
Planting and Taking Care of your Coriander Seedlings
Harvesting your Cilantro and Coriander Seeds
Coriandrum sativum comes in many varieties that you can choose from. We recommend starting with one of the following:
Organic Calypso Cilantro. A bushy and productive variety. It has a herbal and elegant flavor that can bring sharpness to your soups, tacos, and countless other meals.
Organic Santo Cilantro. This variety is bred to be slow bolting. The mature seeds, better known as coriander seeds, are easy to harvest, and the whole plant is edible, including the flowers.
Organic Leisure Cilantro. The name says it all. This variety is very similar to Santo in uniformity, flavor, and bolt tolerance.
Because this guide is about how to grow coriander plants hydroponically, we recommend using a countertop hydroponic garden system with its own LED light like our Farm Culture Grow Pad Mini.
Alternatively, you can grow cilantro in ceramic containers on the windowsill inside your home or apartment. But please know coriander is not the best choice for dark or confined spaces unless you have a proper LED lighting setup.
First, connect your Grow Pad Mini or other countertop hydroponic garden system to a power source, place the pot on the base, and add the substrate that comes with it into the pot. If you are growing inside a ceramic container, make sure to use the best available organic potting soil mix for vegetables available at your local garden store.
Next, add a couple of seeds onto the substrate and add clean, purified water. Now, watch it grow! Ideally you want to give your cilantro 10 to 12 hours of light per day. Coriander plants don’t like direct sunlight though, so be careful!
Coriander plants prefer dry, moderate temperatures around 60-75 °F. Environments that are too hot or humid will trigger the plant’s bolting instincts, and you will not be able to obtain cilantro leaves.
Most coriander seeds germinate in 7-10 days, and cilantro is ready to harvest by day 50. The leaves and seeds have very distinct flavors. The seeds are highly aromatic, while the leaves have an earthy pungency.
Cilantro plants are best fertilized using organic, water-soluble fertilizer or organic compost mix containing Nitrogen and Calcium. If bolting occurs, you can try to save the plant by trimming the bolts and adjusting the environmental conditions. Be aware that the flavor of the greens becomes stronger and more bitter once the plant has bolted.
You can start harvesting your young cilantro any time after germination, although the ideal time to begin is four to six weeks after germination. The stalks should be four inches in height and the leaves bright green. Never trim more than ⅓ of the plant from the top down.
To harvest coriander seeds, cut the flower stems once the smell starts becoming pleasant. Cover the bunches of about six stems together in a paper bag and hang it upside down in a dry, warm, and ventilated place. In about 10 days, you should have perfect coriander seeds that will come away from the husk quite easily. Coriander seeds stored in an airtight container keep their flavor well.
Can you Grow Cilantro Indoors for Culinary and Medicinal Uses?
Coriander seeds are used regularly in Indian cuisine because of their aromatic and versatile flavor.
They are a common ingredient in Masala blends and curries. You can add your seeds to tomato chutneys, vegetable soups, sauces, and of course, ratatouille. Surprisingly, they also work well in apple pies, fruit jams, cakes, and cookies.
The cilantro leaves are very popular in Latin American and Asian dishes. They have a strong, earthy flavor that some people hate and others can’t get enough of. They are mostly used in ceviches, fresh salsas, stews, curries, salads, soups, and even as garnish on one of Mexico’s most iconic dishes, los tacos!
Crimini Mushrooms in Coriander Sauce (20-25 min)
- 5 cups of crimini mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoons of your indoor grown coriander seeds
- 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
- 1 bunch of your indoor grown cilantro leaves
- Pepper, salt and cumin to taste
- Cut mushrooms in half or slice them
- Heat oil, garlic, and coriander seeds in a large saucepan on a medium heat
- Bring to a simmer, and add white wine, then cover for 5 minutes
- Uncover and add mushrooms and tomato paste to the sauce
- Mix well and season with salt, pepper, and cumin to taste
- Cook for 5 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes or so
- Remove the mushrooms and set aside on the serving dish
- Boil the sauce for another 10 minutes to reduce, then pour over the mushrooms
- Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves
Growing your own coriander and other culinary herbs indoors is easier and more important than ever!
With a little help from new technology and the right organic nutrients, the question of growing your own hydroponic herbs and vegetables, including how to grow coriander indoors, is an easy one to solve. It is sustainable, nutritious, and budget-friendly!