Posts Tagged ‘sprouts’
I harvested roots from last year’s cannas and found many new “buds” on them. I broke apart the roots so that each section had at least one bud, and started all of them in containers in January. I started two roots in this container, and both have pushed up healthy leaves… they’ll look great in the garden in late May.
This time of year, if you’re at all interested in my gardening activities, the most appropriate question to ask is, “What’s up on your ping-pong table?” So far, I’ve only a few things going on there, but over the next two weeks, my ping-pong table will hold fully 75% of my gardening projects for 2017.
My earliest ping-pong table project was to start canna lilies from roots I harvested at the end of last season. One variety I grew last year took a very long time to flower, so I planted roots this year in January and they’ve gotten an appropriately slow start. I’ve heard cannas that spend too long in a container before getting planted in the garden tend to fall over. That would slow them down. So, I’m keeping the plants in low light and hoping they don’t grow too tall before temperatures rise in May.
I’ll be starting a second variety of cannas soon as well as some elephant ears. These will mostly go into our “Hawaiian corner” which will be in its third year this season. When the cannas and elephant ears mature in late summer, the Hawaiian corner becomes a dramatic focal point in the yard.
I started three other ping-pong table projects in February:
I’ve never had trouble starting ginger plants from roots I bought in a grocery story. This one sprouted about a week ago more than a month after I planted it on my ping-pong table.
1. I planted several pots with ginger roots I bought at a grocery store. These languished for weeks under lights on the ping-pong table before I decided the basement wasn’t warm enough for them. I moved three of the pots into our living room, and in the past week sprouts have appeared in all three. With a single ginger plant I started in November from last year’s harvest, and the three new planters, I expect to harvest more ginger in the fall than we’re likely to eat in a year.
2. I planted two shallow trays with onion seeds. Generally, I start onions from sets that I plant directly in the garden. This year I found seeds in a department store for onion varieties requiring 170 days to maturity. That’s a crazy amount of garden time for home gardens in central PA; a responsible garden center in Pennsylvania wouldn’t stock seeds that require such a long season… it means planting before last frost in spring and hoping not to get shut down by early frost in autumn. Challenge accepted! My onion sprouts look great and I’d like to get them into the garden soon. They’ll go in my community garden plot, so I have to wait until the county finishes prepping.
A crazy buyer for a big-box store stocked seeds for onions that mature in 170 days! Those would be perfect for home gardens in Texas, and likely to cause the average Pennsylvania gardener aggravation. Being bull-headed, I decided to give them a shot. These sprouts are more than a month old and could probably handle whatever cold is still to come this spring… but they won’t get outdoors until my community garden plot is open. I’m ready, but I’ve no control over when the county lets me start gardening there.
3. I found a frisky sweet potato in the larder and decided to turn it into a slip nursery. There are more than 12 sprouts growing strong. In a few weeks, I’ll pluck them from the sweet potato and root them in water so they’re ready to plant out in late May or early June.
At the beginning of April, my attention to the ping-pong table intensified. I planted two containers with seeds from last year’s sweet pepper harvest: 25 orange bell pepper seeds in one planter, and 25 sweet Italian pepper seeds in a second planter. No sprouts yet, but they’re likely to pop in the next seven days. By then, I’ll have planted up about 14 varieties of tomato seeds and, perhaps, some lettuce and cucumbers.
But spring is finally feeling spring-like, so within a few days I hope to plant peas and lettuce in the garden. It all feels a bit daunting, but exhilarating at the same time.
Putting the ping-pong table to work in late winter and early spring has become a ritual I anticipate and enjoy. It teases me into the gardening season much as an hors d’oeuvre whets my appetite for a fine meal.
Growers or distributors sometimes treat sweet potatoes with chemicals that suppress new growth so you may not be able to start slips from grocery store sweet potatoes. I suspect I bought this sweet potato from a local farmer at the market in December. The sweet potato was anxious to sprout, and it may provide more than a dozen slips for my garden. In a few weeks, I’ll pluck the sprouts from the tuber and set them in very moist soil so they develop roots. In late May I’ll transfer the slips to my garden and hope to harvest before burrowing rodents eat my crop.
Two one-gallon milk jugs with the top halves cut off serve as planters for my sweet pepper seeds. I planted 25 seeds in each container. In early June, the roots of the plants should be intertwined throughout the soil. I’ll cut or tear the seedlings away from each other and plant them in the garden. Usually, they recover from “transplant shock” in six to ten days and deliver a decent crop starting in late August.
The top shelf of my larder gets crowded with empty canning jars as winter drags on. I’ll be dragging those boxes down when my fresh garden produce is ready for packing.
My Post Produce article this month is a bit different; it’s about transition in Your Small Kitchen Garden blog. Just a few days ago, I sorted through the canned produce in my larder and organized it onto two shelves so one shelf would be clear. Then I hung a daylight spectrum shop light and planted cauliflower and broccoli seeds in a tray that I cut from a gallon milk jug.
Just two days ago, the cauliflower and broccoli seeds sprouted, and today the sprouts hold promise for a future harvest.
Small Kitchen Garden as the Circle of Life
A few years ago, my larder was nothing more than shelves to hold canned goods, canning gear, and other random stuff. Then, when I was contemplating another winter of starting vegetable seeds on my ping pong table, it dawned on me: by late winter, I’ve used up a lot of my canned goods; there would be room on my shelves to start seeds.
Above the soil for only two days, the tiny sprout in this photo could produce enough cauliflower to feed my family for three meals.
I love that the larder doubles for seed-starting. Just like my small kitchen garden, it knows all the seasons: It accumulates empty canning jars year-round, with most rapid growth in the dead of winter. Then, as winter becomes tedious, my larder comes alive when seeds sprout and grow until the garden is ready. With the earliest spring fruits—rhubarb and strawberries—I put up food while we continue to consume produce that won’t be available fresh for months. When all goes right, we use the last jar of tomatoes within days of canning the new season’s early fruits. Later, we use the last jar of sweet corn as the first ears come fresh out of the garden. Transitions within this cycle are so smooth, so seamless, that it almost doesn’t seem to have a beginning.
This is what inspires me to write about kitchen gardening. This is why I encourage others to participate. With February’s post, I’m celebrating the kitchen garden’s circle of life and looking forward to seeing what produce my fellow gardeners are enjoying—or planning to enjoy—in coming months.
My repurposed milk jug planter holds 10 cauliflower seeds and 10 broccoli seeds on a shelf above canned tomato sauce and other goodies. I planted head lettuce seeds yesterday and in the next month I’ll start several hundred seeds including peppers, tomatoes, and squashes.
Post Your Produce!
The 22nd is the day to Post Produce. Join the celebration of homegrown food and share whatever you’re consuming from your garden. Whether it’s still growing, you’re harvesting it for a meal, you’re preserving it, or you’re taking it out of your larder for dinner, share it in a post and then link to it below. For more information, follow this link to the Post Produce page.
I don’t think this is natural… and it’s even a little creepy. In real life, corn seeds dry out on the cob; get eaten by rodents, birds, and deer; and end up back in (or on) the soil before they sprout. Even if you don’t treat corn right, it wants to grow; it wants to make its own corn seeds.
The whole point of being a mature vegetable is to make more vegetables. Once you’re all grown up, you have only to spread your seeds so they can take root and produce new plants. As a vegetable seed, you do everything you know how to do to succeed; to grow into a mature plant so you can spread seeds.
To illustrate my point, the photo to the right shows an ear of sweet corn which, when I husked it, simply looked too old to cook and serve at a meal. Instead, I set the ear—along with husks from the night’s meal—into a compost bucket and set it on the deck rail. Then I kind of overlooked that compost bucket for a week or two. When I finally got around to dumping it, I found that the corn on the cob was growing.
I had not treated these corn seeds well. I hadn’t dried them. I hadn’t removed them from the cob. I hadn’t stored them in a moisture-free environment. I hadn’t planted them in well-nourished soil. I hadn’t kept them uniformly moist. Still, they did their best in the environment they had available.
I won’t make a habit of sprouting seeds in dishrags for my small kitchen garden. This was a complete fluke and it will never happen again (maybe).
A Tomato Seed Shows Pluck
Poor housekeeping in my kitchen should further make my point: I prepared a tomato salad during the summer, and used a Handi-Wipe towel to clean up the counter. When I finished, I rinsed out the towel and tossed it against the backsplash of the sink.
Apparently, I didn’t use the towel for a few days, but when next I picked it up, I found it had a passenger: a young tomato sprout had emerged from among the towel’s fibers. This was not the tomato seed’s natural environment, but still it managed to set out on its mission to grow up and produce seeds of its own.
Starting Vegetable Plants is Easy
Why am I telling you about my horrible housekeeping? To emphasize just how easy it is to start a garden: when you follow instructions in a “how to plant vegetables” article, you’re pampering seeds with an ideal environment; you’re bound to succeed! So… try it! Even if you mess up in extreme ways, your seeds will try very hard to make you successful.
Do you have examples of seeds sprouting—or vegetable plants succeeding—in unlikely environments? Please share your story in a comment!
On the fourth morning after starting my alfalfa seeds, the sprouts have filled the jar and are ready for harvest.
On Friday, I harvested my small kitchen garden. In my last two posts I related the steps I took to start a very small kitchen garden in my house: I rinsed alfalfa seeds, soaked them overnight, and set them to sprout in a kitchen cabinet. Then, I posted photos here to show how things were going.
By Thursday, my only sprout-related news was that I continued to rinse and drain the sprouts, and they were obviously still growing… not compelling enough to prompt a report. On Friday morning, it appeared my sprouting jar was full; the sprouts had grown so much that they were pushing against—and even through—the fabric covering the jar.
Three tablespoons of alfalfa seeds expanded to fill the pint jar in which I started them. I had to shake them out much as you do the contents of a can of jellied cranberries on Thanksgiving (apologies to non-US residents who have never seen jellied cranberries on Thanksgiving–please visit us in November, and we’ll show you). A small number of seeds didn’t sprout; I picked those out for the compost bucket.
So, I removed the lid from my sprouting jar and dumped the sprouts onto a plate. It took a lot of shaking because the sprouts were wedged tightly into the sprouting jar. I gently broke the jar-shaped clump of sprouts apart and spread it on the plate, then I left the plate where indirect sunlight would encourage the sprouts to turn green. In a few hours, I decided the sprouts were drying out, so I dumped them into a clear plastic bag to keep them moist.
Alfalfa Sprout Harvest
At lunch time on Friday, I cooked a handful of fresh alfalfa sprouts into an omelet with provolone cheese. The sprouts added a little crunch along with a curiously nutty/spicy flavor. Sadly, the omelet didn’t win me over to sprouts. I got a real kick out of growing the sprouts, but I’m not excited about eating them. I’ll try to develop a taste for sprouts what with how good they are for me… and because I can grow them indoors easily during winter. I’ll bake some into bread this weekend, and I’ll try some other types of sprouts to learn whether any are so tasty I’ll look forward to eating them.
My havested alfalfa sprouts green up a bit before I put them in the refrigerator. I made an omelet with provolone and a handful of sprouts; it was OK, but I’d prefer to find other ways to use sprouts.
I hope you’ll give sprouts a try. Here are a few things I learned:
Use a Bigger Jar, or use Less Seed
Three tablespoons of alfalfa seeds were too many for a pint jar. Were I to do this again, I’d use only two tablespoons of seeds… or I’d put four tablespoons of seeds in a quart jar.
Check out seedpeople
My friend Robin Wedewer who writes the Bumblebee Garden Blog) put me on to a web site called Sprout People. Please have a look. They’ve been selling seeds for sprouting on the web for years. They have a great selection, a lot of great information about sprouting, and low prices.
In my last post, I introduced my newest small kitchen garden: a canning jar of damp alfalfa seeds. To encourage you to get started with sprouts, here’s an update.
I rinsed my alfalfa seeds and set them soaking on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, I poured off the water, rinsed the seeds, and poured off all the water. Then I set the sprouting jar top-down on a plate in my kitchen cabinet. I repeated the rinsing and draining at 2:00 PM on Tuesday and again at bedtime. When I rinsed the seeds on Wednesday morning, they had sprouted! The photo at right reveals several tender shoots.
As I started to write this update near bedtime on Wednesday, I rinsed the seeds again and took another photo—the second one in this post. The sprouts are long enough that they’re intertwining. At this rate, they’ll be ready to harvest in another day or two!
Instant Small Kitchen Garden
Sprout-growing has already proven more satisfying than I’d hoped. I get enormous satisfaction from growing food. And, while I’d rather grow tomatoes, peas, spinach, and lettuce, it’s quite a rush to “plant” something that emerges and is ready to eat in less than a week!
As I embarked on this sprouting adventure, I’ve been tickled by a factoid that may not be common knowledge: Alfalfa, this oh-so-popular salad additive, is horse food. Other popular sprouts are also horse food: people shopping for hay are usually pleased to find bales that include timothy, alfalfa, and clover. If, as a kid I’d been told that some day I’d grow alfalfa to feed myself, I’d have most likely rolled my eyes dismissively. Knowing I used to feed alfalfa to my horses has added a bit to the amusement factor of growing sprouts.
My sprout garden has given me a lift. Find step-by-step instructions in my last post to start your own sprout garden. Go ahead, give it a try.
A wide-mouth pint canning jar, a band (or a rubber band), and seeds are all you need to start a very small kitchen garden in your kitchen.
I keep hearing from people who are doing spring planting in their small kitchen gardens. Folks on the US Pacific coast, down into the southwestern states, and across to the gulf states are either laying out garden beds or planting spring crops. Since hearing this makes my teeth grind at night, I’m starting an indoor gardening project that every cold-frustrated gardener can handle with minimal inconvenience: growing sprouts.
When I was a kid, bean sprouts were an amazing innovation acquired from Chinese cooking and popularized by people referred to as the crunchy granola set. Today, bean sprouts have become a minor subset of an expanding sprout-growing culture. Even in rather pedestrian grocery stores you can find bean sprouts, clover sprouts, alfalfa sprouts, and maybe even broccoli sprouts. In specialty grocery stores you might find a dozen types of sprouts.
Put three tablespoons of alfalfa seeds in a jar, rinse them thoroughly, then cover them with water and let them soak overnight. I used a chopstick to stir the seeds as I rinsed them; swirling might have worked as well.
More Winter Relief
Before spring, I anticipate no more escape from the cold of winter. So, I’m going to grow some sprouts. Sadly, I’m not a big fan of sprouts, but I trust that growing something fresh—anything I can eat—will help get me through the next seven weeks (whereupon we’ll talk about pruning and grafting apple and pear trees).
I’ve never grown my own sprouts, but I’ve seen it done. And, anticipating this urge, I bought a little bag of alfalfa seeds at a natural foods store about two months ago. Here’s how it’s going down:
To hold the cloth cover on your sprout jar, use a band designed to hold on a canning lid. Alternatively, a rubber band or an elastic hair band can do the job.
A Simple Small Kitchen Garden
I used a clean, one pint canning jar. I also used the lining from an old swimsuit that never quite fit me; it’s a tightly-woven elastic net that lets water through quickly, but retains even very small seeds. You can use nylon pantyhose or stockings, cheesecloth, or some other non-toxic material you find around the house.
Here is a sprout garden planted and ready to sit for 8 to 12 hours before its next rinsing. I’ve leaned the jar on a chopstick so residual water can drain away from the seeds.
I put about a half inch of seeds into the canning jar—that’s three tablespoons of seeds—and rinsed them four times. To rinse, I filled the jar two-thirds with water, stirred vigorously with a chopstick, then gently poured off as much water as possible without losing seeds. Finally, I filled the jar halfway with water, and set it in the middle of the dining room table.
The next morning I stretched the swimsuit liner across the top of the jar and held it in place with a canning band. I poured off the water and rinsed the seeds two or three times. Then I poured off all the water and left the seeds in a kitchen cabinet (where it’s dark). I’ll rinse the seeds again around noon, and pour off the water. Before I go to bed, I’ll repeat this rinse cycle… and I’ll go three times a day for four or five days. For the truly lazy gardener, I understand that rinsing only in the morning and the evening will work just fine.
Get a sampler of seeds certified for home sprout gardens. This set includes alfalfa, mung bean, broccoli, green lentil, clover, buckwheat, radish, and salad greens. Click here to get started today.
In four days I expect there will be healthy sprouts in the jar. I’ll set it in a south-facing window so the sprouts green up a bit, and I’ll keep rinsing for another day or two. Finally, I’ll either eat the sprouts, or put them in the refrigerator; they’ll keep for several days in the fridge until I’m ready to eat them.
You Go Too
Could this be easier? I don’t think so. Will it work? It worked for my crunchy granola friends in the 70s. Here are some important tidbits:
- Many types of seeds will do. Try these: alfalfa, clover, broccoli, radish, mung beans, garbanzo beans, lettuce, spinach, peas. Different sprouts have distinctively different flavors.
- Get seeds certified for home sprouting; apparently some seeds have come with salmonella, and people have gotten sick from eating raw sprouts. If you have any doubt about your seeds’ origins, you can still sprout them, but cook the sprouts before you eat them! There’s more information here.
- If mold appears on your sprouts, don’t eat them. Mold is more likely to grow in a humid environment—which you create when you start sprouts. But in the dry winter air, there’s less likely to be mold spores drifting through. I’ll let you know if mold becomes a problem for me.
- Use sprouts in salads, sandwiches, spreads, stir-fry, breads… be creative.
Growing sprouts is a simple project that takes very little space, so get started! I expect to set up a new batch of seeds every five-to-seven days at least until I can work in my outdoor garden. For the rest of the winter, sprouts will be my small kitchen garden. I’ll post an update in a few days with a picture of my alfalfa babies.
Here are links to other articles about growing sprouts:
Living Healthy Life: Growing Sprouts – You can take a whole array of expensive vitamin supplements and still not get the nutritional bbenefits/b that these very inexpensive additions to your diet will provide. b…/b. Read more: Living Healthy Life: Growing Sprouts.
» Joy of growing Sprouts and Microgreens – Joy of growing Sprouts and Microgreens. Search. Best viewed in Mozilla Firefox. Posted on October 4, 2008 at 2:28 pm. Joy of growing Sprouts and Microgreens. I LOVE to eat sprouts. More than that I love to SEE sprouts. …
The Easiest Vegetable Garden Anyone Can Grow Anywhere, Anytime! – … I think I may just need to go make another St. Jude’s tuna sandwich with my next batch of fresh broccoli sprouts! For additional reading:. Sprouts for Your Health; Risks Associated with Sprouts; Growing Sprouts for Your Health.