Like many foods, herbs, and spices, the history of cilantro is difficult to track. It is a product of nature, obviously, and as such it does not have an inventor in the same way that peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have an inventor. But like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, there has to have been someone to have first tried eating cilantro.
The oldest cilantro seeds date back as far as eight thousand years ago. They were found in a cave in Israel sitting in a jar that likely kept them in the pickling fluid that preserved them over the millennia. That cilantro saw the rise of the pyramids. That cilantro saw the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. In short, cilantro survives.
So, as you might imagine, growing cilantro indoors can be quite easy. Start with an unglazed terracotta container. You are going to have to use supplements or high-nutrient water, as cilantro is used to spreading its roots far and snatching up nutrients wherever it can find it. Plenty of sunlight is a must.
How Do You Water Cilantro?
Watering cilantro thoroughly is more important than watering it frequently. People, especially people who are new to growing plants in their homes, will worry about drowning their plants. That is the last thing you need to worry about, as plants know how to stop drinking water when they have had enough.
Worry more about under-watering than overwatering and make your cilantro into a swimming pool if you need to. But as mentioned above, the nutrients in the water are just as important as the water itself. You might expect there to be a store-bought supplement to help with this, but the solution is far more simple than that.
In order to get extra nutrients into your water, try this: Next time you make any kind of pasta, save the pasta water. That is to say, rather than straining the pasta from the water and sending the water down the drain, put the water into another pot.
Then, water your plants with the pasta water. The reason you boil pasta is to separate out bacteria from the pasta. This usually takes some of the pasta cells with it. This means the pasta water is a soup of living and once-living things. Watering your plants with that will supercharge them, enhancing their growth.
This can be done with any water used to boil food, as long as the water has not been flavored by any additives like flavor packets or broth. There are some broths that will serve to enrich your plants, but they are far outnumbered by those that do not. Broth carries nutrients humans need, not those made for plants.
Does Cilantro Need Special Soil?
Cilantro does not need “special” soil, but it does need healthy soil. The best way to get your soil healthy is by fertilizing it, and the best method to fertilize soil without using store-bought fertilizer is by using materials from other plants. Namely, their clippings and waste.
This method of fertilization requires the presence of at least two different plants, but you can also use plant matter from outdoors. You will notice over time that the leaves of your plants wilt and fall away as naturally as the tides. While this can be a sign of poor health, usually it just happens like humans clipping their nails.
The thing is that those wilted leaves also have living matter still in them. Not only that, but it is healthier for your plant if you cut them off sooner rather than later. And the sooner you cut them off, the more living matter is in them. You might be able to tell where this is going: Cut off those wilted leaves and make use of them!
Imagine you have three different plants (though I am sure you do not have to imagine). Start by clipping off the wilted leaves from each of them. Now, you should have clippings from Plant A, Plant B, and Plant C. Simply put the clippings from A into B, B into C, and C into A. Now they can all make use of each other’s nutrients.
Plants actually do this on their own and it is not impossible for them to use their own clippings as sources of nourishment. However, they can get more out of it if you use clippings from other plants. This works on the same principle as crop rotation, which makes use of certain plants’ tendencies to extract only certain nutrients.
Will Store-Bought Fertilizer Work?
Store-bought fertilizer will work, and if neither of the other methods seems to yield strong growth for your cilantro, then trying store-bought fertilizer is the correct next step. The big difference between store-bought fertilizer and fertilizer made from waste products is that store-bought fertilizer is designed to be good.
Some people might interpret this as strange, but it is not meant as an insult at all. Fertilizer, as it exists in this day and age, is a completely different tool than fertilizer as it existed when the word “fertilizer” was first used. There is so much more chemistry going into the concoction of fertilizer than ever before.
This means that you basically cannot make anything even remotely as effective at home. This also means that fertilizer from the store is uniquely expensive. You get what you pay for though, and you will almost guarantee your cilantro will grow if you opt for the expensive, store-bought stuff.
This is not the only time in history humans have been able to grow cilantro, but it is perhaps the only time in history when individual people not trained as farmers from birth can grow cilantro. So, get out there. Grow your cilantro. Ruin your first batch, then take what you have learned and try again.
Because unlike the early days of cilantro growing, humans are not living and dying on every seed they succeed or fail in cultivating. Experiment. Have fun. And when you succeed, enjoy the vegetables of your labor.