Dhania (Coriander) farming, from seedling to harvesting
Description: No African cuisine is complete without the usage of Dhania. The aroma of the leaves and the seeds is simply irresistible. Coriander grows with almost zero maintenance. From seed to plant, the coriander grows very vigorously and is ready to harvest in a span of a month and half to experience your return on investments but for seeds, you will need 3 to 4 months.. Locally, the demand for coriander just like other vegetables such as the kale, carrots, tomatoes and spinach is also growing.
It will cost you around Ksh 1,000 on seeds per plot of almost an acre of land to fully obtain maximum yield and a bit of intensive labor especially during planting and harvesting. An acre of coriander farm can give you a Ksh 40,000 monthly as long as you take care of your plants. By taking care implies avoiding fertilizer and strictly going green with manure for strong vigor. No spraying of chemicals is needed.
Location Constraints: Coriander plants are extremely fragile and transplanting them from pots to the garden is a bad idea. Sow coriander seeds directly in the soil. You can make rows in the land and sow seeds accordingly. You can either split the seed or sow it directly without splitting into two.
Sunlight: Coriander grows very rapidly with the right amount of sunshine. During germination the seeds will require sunlight only for a couple of hours every day but once they start producing leaves, they will need 5 to 6hours of bright light.
Spacing: Spacing plays a very important role while planting coriander. The plants become very bushy and if not well spaced, they can mess up your garden. While sowing the seeds, make 1 inch deep holes and space them atleast 3 inches apart so that they don’t eat into the other plants.
Growth: Coriander plants are very small and do not grow more than two inches or so. Once the leaves appear fully grown, you might want to pluck them and use. But if you wish to harvest coriander seeds, leave the plants to bloom. Within a week’s span, tiny yellow flowers blossom and soon you will also see dhania seeds popping out.
Height and Spreading: Almost all leafy vegetables are bushy and coriander is no exception. After the germination and leaf budding stages, they grow huge into bushes crowding your garden space.
Temperature: Coriander cannot withstand extreme temperatures either cool or hot. Ideally, a warm 25degree Celsius is enough for the seeds to germinate and grow into plants.
Watering: After sowing coriander seeds, water them thoroughly and continue doing so every day till the seeds germinate. After germination you can water the plants only when it is necessary. Well drained soil is always a pre-requisite for coriander crop. Ensure that the water doesn’t stand for long hours rotting the roots and damaging the plants.
Nutrient Management: Good fertile soil is just what coriander seeds require. Not fertilising the plants wouldn’t harm them anyway. If you find the seeds soggy or delayed germination you can add manure to the land. That boosts the growth process.
Pest Management: Home grown coriander develops very quickly and is harvested immediately. This leaves with no space for pest infestation. However, too much dampness of the soil can give rise to rot which spreads very fast all over the crop. After the flowers blossom and seeds set in, there are chances of aphid infestation. Aphids eat up the seeds and cause large scale destruction. Timely usage of an organic pesticide will help.
Harvesting of coriander: In about 25 to 30days, coriander plants are ready to be harvested. As soon as you spot healthy green coloured leaves, pluck them without delay. If you wait for them to develop, leaves turn feathery, yellow coloured flowers bloom and coriander seeds sprout. If you want the seeds you can wait for another week otherwise pluck coriander without a day’s delay.
Uses and health benefits: Coriander leaves are a part and parcel of every Kenyan dish. Not just for aroma but the leaves and seeds are used for medicinal purposes too. Strong decoction of coriander seeds is used to treat griping pain in babies and adults. It cures indigestion and treats gastric disorders. Regular intake of coriander was also found to treat high cholesterol levels and maintain good heart health.
Additional Information: When harvesting the seeds, wait for them to turn a light brownish in colour. Immature green colour seeds will be found in plenty but they taste bitter and do not smell good. Always wait for the seeds to mature.