In less than 30 minutes, using whatever materials I found at hand, I've put together a simple set up that will (hopefully) supply me with fresh cilantro through the winter. If it works, expect to see updates with more photos.
Step 1: The Pot
My pot is just an old yogurt container. Slits in the bottom provide drainage, and another container (with a lid stuffed in it) collect the drained water.
Step 2: The Soil
I just dug some soil out of the window box herb garden, which is done for the winter.
Step 3: The Seeds
I collected these seeds this summer when my outdoor plants bolted. Because cilantro has such a short growth cycle, I figure I'll end up with more than enough seeds once I get going--I might have to grind some up for coriander. Planting instructions for cilantro are 1cm deep and 4cm apart.
Step 4: The Light
I poked around the net for information about growing plants under artificial light. The deal seems to be that plants mainly need blue and red light--typically more blue when they're young, and more red as they grow and flower. Of course, one site (which was selling LED grow lights) said that growing cilantro under blue light will make it more productive before it bolts (produces seeds instead of tasty leaves). Rather than spending money on grow lights, I decided to just try my binary clock, which is wonderfully geeky, but just too bright to keep in my bedroom. Of course, if I decide that red light is necessary, I've got another binary clock with red LEDs . . . (both were gifts).
Of course, setting it near a window would be a good option for most people, but I have a basement apartment, so I don't think my glass block windows will really cut it, especially in the middle of winter.
Once it starts growing, I'll have to figure out how to position the clock higher. Any suggestions or comments are welcome.