Mexican coriander is also known as Chinese parsley, Indian parsley, cilantro or coriander, although the latter usually refers to the seeds and cilantro refers to the leaves of the coriander plant. Commonly used in Mexican, Thai, Moroccan, Indian and Vietnamese cuisine, the plant is actually native to Asia Minor or the Mediterranean area. It is hard to distinguish cilantro leaves in appearance from the more common flat-leafed parsley, but just take a sniff of the crushed leaves and you will know you have cilantro, which has an earthy, pungent smell.
Plant in Spring
Plant coriander seeds in the spring since they need cool weather. You only need about 45 days before you can harvest the leaves for use as cilantro, and 100 days for collecting coriander seeds. Coriander that is planted later into the summer tends to bolt and have bitter leaves. If you plan it right, you can plant in the late summer or early fall.
Sow the Seeds
Place the seeds about 1/4 inch deep directly in the tilled garden (they are difficult to transplant) in a spot with full sun. Plants grown in peat pots can be sunk into the ground as they are or you run the risk of damaging the taproot when you remove it from the pot. Plant seeds in succession every week for three weeks for a continuous harvest.
Tamp the Soil
Push some soil lightly over the seeds and walk down the row to press the soil around the coriander seeds. This is called tamping and will ensure that there is good soil-to-seed contact so no pockets of air dry out the seed and prevent germination.
Water the newly-planted seeds lightly with your hose setting on the mist or light spray. You do not want to dislodge the soil around the seeds. Repeat this every morning until the spouts break through the soil, or for about five to seven days.