Basil & Cilantro
Gardeners love to grow basil and cilantro in their gardens because they are useful in the kitchen and they are easy to grow. Therefore they are the ideal herbs to grow for first time gardeners. Basil and cilantro are both grown for their leaves, which can be harvested throughout the summer.
Fact: Cilantro is two herbs in one! The leaves are commonly called cilantro and the seeds (whole or ground) are called coriander.
Basil is a member of the mint family and it is a sweet herb used to flavor food. It is also used in many traditional remedies to heal various illnesses. There are many varieties of basil and each have a distinct flavor, making them versatile and appealing to a wide range of tastes. Basil leaves can vary in size and color, therefore they standout in gardens and accent mixed containers. There are four basic types of basil: sweet green, dwarf green, purple leaf and scented leaf.
Cilantro is a member of the parsley family and it is one of the most popular herbs to grow in home gardens. It grows very fast, is highly aromatic and is a staple herb in salsa and many other Mexican dishes. Their leaves can be harvested anytime and the top, new leaves should be used when cooking. Cilantro is rarely dried to avoid losing the flavor.
How to plant:
Both basil and cilantro can be grown outside in garden beds and patio containers, but be sure to wait until there is absolutely no threat of overnight frost. These herbs are very sensitive to cold temperatures and even a mild frost will permanently damage small plants. To avoid losing young plants wait until daytime temperatures are above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Basil and cilantro prefer sunny locations with well-drained soil. Without enough sunlight, the plants tend to get "leggy", they grow tall but they do not fill out.
When planting basil and cilantro it is best to plant them several times and schedule plantings about two weeks apart because they both seed and stop producing leaves quickly. By planting more plant more often it allows you to harvest fresh herbs for a longer period of time.
The most common problem gardeners have when growing basil and cilantro is that the plants begin to grow tall and leggy when their leaves are not harvested. Leaves should be harvested before the plant flowers for the best flavor. Harvest full stems rather than removing individual leaves by cutting just above each pair of lower leaves, this helps create bushy, compact plants.
Like other herbs, basil and cilantro do not require a lot of maintenance. Modify your soil with organic matter and try to water your plants with about an inch of water a week. Provide nutrients for the entire season by applying a controlled-release fertilizer when planting.
- Burpee Home Gardens