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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cilantro from Seeds

Cilantro is a member of the parsley family (it's sometimes called Chinese parsley), and all parsleys germinate in the dark.  Yes, it seems weird, but true.  I used to put newspaper cut to size over the pots or on the ground where I planted them.  And it worked, but you have to be careful to watch out that you don't leave the newspaper on too long, and with their very long germination time (~ 21 days), it's easy to lose track.  And then you have very bent and/or broken seedlings.

Cilantro likes cooler weather and or dappled sun here in California.  The extreme heat makes it "bolt" and go to seed very quickly, if you can get it to grow -- I couldn't, not until I planted it this winter in the garden, under the aforementioned newspaper, with bricks holding the corners down.

But I think I've found a better way.

Notice the seedlings peeping through the holes in the egg carton.

Egg cartons.  They provide the darkness necessary, and also the head room for the seedlings to start growing.  And you can plant them directly in the ground, just like those cute little peat pots you buy at the garden center.  Success!
You can water them more easily than with paper, too; just lift the lid.  With newspaper, you have to move the rocks or bricks or whatever you're using to keep the paper down and make sure the soil actually gets wet.

So I planted two or three seeds in each egg cup, and got a germination rate of 8 out of 12 cups, with some cups having 2 seedlings.  MUCH better than in the past.

Once the seedlings have popped up, cut the cups apart and make a hole in the bottom of the cup for the roots.  A couple of roots actually came through the carton.

I pretty much totally opened up the bottom so that the roots have lots of room to expand.

Make nice deep  holes for the seedlings, and bury them until just an inch or two of plant is above the ground.

Pat them in, and water.  Toss the egg carton into your compost pile.

I'll keep you updated on their progress.

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