If you’re looking to start small with your gardening activities this year, Matthew William Harris has the ideal project for you…
The start of spring and re-emergence of the sun has us excited for the new season’s harvests, and getting some much-missed colour back onto our plates, writes Michael William Harris. Prime time to get growing then, eh? Thing is, those April showers put a bit of a dampener on spending time in the garden. Chances are, you don’t really fancy going outside and double digging the vegetable patch, because you know how it will pan out if you do. You’ll start by haplessly hopping around the kitchen trying to wrestle into your waterproof trousers, then embrace the elements for all of 10 minutes before deciding that you’ve done enough to reward yourself with a brew. And, before you know it, that’s it for the day.
It might not even be the inconvenient showers inhibiting your horticultural exercises, either; perhaps, like so many city dwellers, you don’t have a garden to get out in. Regardless of the excuses, it’s time to flex those green fingers and get growing – because you can do it indoors. Now, I’m not talking about turfing out all your living room furniture to establish an allotment where the sofa used to be (as fun as that sounds); instead, make good use of all those window ledges throughout your home by creating your very own microgreen farm.
You’ve probably encountered these little green shoots sitting on top of a rather colourful ’slaw from your local deli, or maybe hanging out in Whole Foods, asking the question, what the heck am I? A microgreen is a very young edible plant – most often a vegetable or herb – harvested when it is about an inch to an inch-and-a-half long, including the stem and leaves. Not only do these little sprouts add colour to a dish, but also interesting subtle flavours – not to mention a good boost of nutrition.
And it gets better: they’re super easy to grow. First, gather a few choice packs of seeds – literally any edible plant will work, but some popular varieties to use for this include basil, beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chard, chervil, kale, kohlrabi, pak choi, mustard, parsley, peas, radish, rocket and sorrel. You’re certainly not limited to these though, so go crazy.
For newcomers to the garden(ing) party, I recommend going with pea shoots; their muted sweet pea flavours are amazing in salads and soups.
Grab the Dwarf Gray Sugar Snap Pea seed variety.
You’ll also need a shallow tray and some soil…
1 Find a south-facing window with plenty of sunlight.
2 Place an inch of potting soil in the bottom of a shallow tray or planter, smoothing it out to make sure it’s as even as possible.
3 Scatter the seeds over the surface of the soil evenly. Tip: soaking the seeds overnight before this step will speed up sprouting time, but make it more difficult to scatter them.
4 Cover the seeds with a think layer of soil and spray the surface with water (I use an old bottle with a misting spray top).
5 Mist the seeds a couple of times a day. You want to keep the soil evenly moist while waiting for the seeds to germinate.
6 The greens will usually be ready to harvest in two to four weeks, depending on the type of seed used. Simply cut as close to the soil as you can with a pair of scissors. Some might even regrow.
7 Eat. Repeat.
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