Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 27 January 2012

Salad Days: Of Sprouted Seeds and Microgreens

I'm experimenting with some radishes for microgreens - not quite the mini forest of waving seed leaves I have in my mind's eye yet, but aren't those root hairs fab?

Welcome to January's edition of Salad Days: our monthly get together on the fourth Friday each month to see how everyone's getting on with their 52 Week Salad Challenge!

When I kicked off the challenge 3 weeks ago, I didn't expect the enormous reaction I've seen from right across the globe. Many thanks to you who've already started writing your blogposts and tweeting your pictures, experiences and questions using the #saladchat hashtag. I'm really chuffed with everything that's been happening this month :D

You'll find Mr Linky at the end of this post for you to enter all your Salad Days entries. Don't worry if you don't post today, that's why I'm using Mr Linky so that you can add them when you're ready...

The pea shoots are enjoying their move from the kitchen windowsill to the bedroom. So is Skimble - you can just see his whiskers at the top left in the photo

As you know the challenge is about growing, foraging and eating salad leaves every week of the year. I've left things flexible so you can design the challenge to suit you. However, I haven't said what I'm aiming to do this year, so in 2012 I will...
  • Kick my 4 bags a week bought salad habit by growing my own - at least one bag per week will be replaced by my own fresh produce
  • Extend my usual April to October salad cropping season and by the end of the year I will be able to continue growing all my own salad leaves into 2013
  • Make better use of the resources I have already - cloches, cold frames, seed sprouting kits, growing trays, horticultural fleece, left over seed packets etc. Reuse/Recycle are also allowed
  • Only buy compost, seeds and feed - i.e. I won't be buying a greenhouse or polytunnel to make things easier for me
  • Try new techniques and varieties including microgreens, foraging and eating more edible flowers
  • Write a blog post about salad every week

Pea shoot at dawn

Over the last few weeks I've learned:
  • The challenge is lots of fun and it's been great learning from your experiences and helping wherever I can
  • Chickweed and hairy bittercress are surprisingly tasty. So was the carrot top I furtively nibbled whilst out shopping
  • There's a surprising amount of greenstuff available in January
  • Beansprouts are traditionally sprouted in the dark. In a later post I'll report on my experiments to compare lentils sprouted in the dark and light
  • NAH likes sprouted seeds! For someone who only liked peas when I first met him and has a real aversion to roots, this is progress
  • Microgreens grown in compost will yield 3 crops, those grown on trays (like my radishes in the first photo) yield just one. Guess which version is sold in the supermarkets
  • My houseplants have really perked up since I started watering them with the rinsing water from my sprouted seeds
  • Ungerminated and leftover sprouted seeds are great in soups
  • I have far too many seeds in my seed tin - at least I can use lots of them up for trendy microgreens (NB don't use parsnips for this as they're toxic - thanks to Mel for asking the question and @simiansuter for tweeting the reminder a couple of weeks ago)
  • I can replace at least 1 bag of salad a week with sprouted seeds and microgreens started in January. This bodes well for the rest of the year
Now it's over to you, how are you getting on with the 52 Week Salad Challenge? Leave a link to your blogpost via Mr Linky below. NB the next Salad Days will be on February 24th.

NB You can catch up with all my weekly 52 Week Salad Challenge posts, plus lots more useful links and information re the world of salad leaves on my dedicated 52 Week Salad Challenge page :)

Update: This Mr Linky is for genuine 52 Week Salad Challenge posts and others recommended via #saladchat. It's NOT for links to websites offering gardening services, materials and suchlike. These will be removed as soon as I find them.

28 comments:

  1. Thanks for hosting this meme!
    Have a great week-end!

    Lea
    Mississippi, USA

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  2. I have been really inspired so far in this challenge (both in terms of planning to plant and the potential salads, as much as what I have made so far).

    I am also inspired to actually use what I have in the garden, instead of composting it, which is great.

    In this spirit, I have found quite a few seeds that have spilled into my seed box. They mostly look like alliums, and salads anyway. I was thinking of trying to get microgreens from them. I was wondering if there are any annuals that I should NOT attempt to eat in this way? Better to be safe than sorry and all that!

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    1. Hi Mel - avoid parsnips a they're toxic. That's the only one that's been flagged up so far. @simiansuter (who also gave me the info re parsnips) told me that microgreen leeks are very intensely flavoured - I suspect all of the allium family will be.

      Looking forward to hearing how you get on with them!

      Thanks for asking your question - I've made a note of it ready for my post re microgreens :)

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  3. Yay! We're off!

    One post already up on the Kitchen Garden blog: and I'm finishing my other one off later today :D I will be back...

    PS Skimble has mighty fine whiskers

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    Replies
    1. He has very fine whiskers :)

      Thanks for both your posts!

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  4. So much useful information within all the salad chat posts VP. When the year is done an dusted it would be great to see it in printed format - an ebook maybe? Would be great to have such a resource. Those radish shoots look so colourful and full of life. Will visit fellow challengers later when I've had something warm to eat - I've just been out in sleet and hail so salad is not on the menu tonight :)

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    Replies
    1. At the moment everything's being summed up in the dedicated page and the link is available in the sidebar.

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  5. Ah thank you thank you thank you for starting this challenge VP! I have been so inspired by the whole thing, and have discovered new gardening blogs too. And congratulations everyone! Surely we're through the hardest month of the challenge now?

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  6. I really should try some sprouts, and I love the idea of using left over seed for microgreens. Now the challenge will be to get some coriander to actually germinate - it doesn't seem to want to in our summer heat.

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    Replies
    1. Liz - thanks for joining in and providing some inspirational recipes for when summer finally arrives in our hemisphere!

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  7. Me again - post on t'other blog in which I figure out what to grow, up and published now :D

    thanks VP, like Isabel I've come over all inspired by this one!

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  8. I'm not understanding about the compost. How can there be more than one crop of seedlings from one sprinkling of seeds?

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    Replies
    1. Lucy - I deliberately didn't tell all because I'm doing a post about microgreens. With ones grown in compost, you can snip the seedlings when you harvest them and they'll regrow a couple of times. If there's no compost they're too reliant from their seed store for growth and this is exhausted after the first cropping.

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  9. I've included some of Joy Larkcom's 'saladini' wisdom in the latest episode of the Alternative Kitchen Garden show :)

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    Replies
    1. Hurray - this is the first time a podcast's been featured in any of my roundups :)

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  10. Hi everyone - I'll come and visit those of you who are taking part in the challenge,

    A warm welcome to Mel and Liz :D

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  11. A bit late - but I'm here. My salad is a bit chilled this week. Your post has reminded me how much I adore sprouted chick peas - something for me to plant today despite the ankle deep snow! I must try some microgreens too.

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  12. I'm late joining in on this but I'm having fun with my newly sprouted mung beans. My first post on the Salad Challenge is at my blog.

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  13. A warm welcome to Veg Plotting Misk Cooks :)

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  14. Hi Michelle,

    A bit late but my post for Salad Days is finally up. My brother was rushed to hospital last Friday and I somehow completely forgot about posting for Salad Days that day. Sorry!Hope to do better next time.

    Yolanda XX

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    Replies
    1. Yolanda - it's lovely to see you again. I hope your brother's well on the road to recovery.

      xxx

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  15. Thank you for including me :) So this is where Mr Linky hangs out. I am going to amend my blog and write a bit about this as I know there are other people who are interested xx

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    Replies
    1. Welcome Joanna and thanks for spreading the word :)

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  16. Hello VP - I'm only just getting online again after having a shoulder op - haven't been back to my own blog yet, but you kindly sent me some beetroot seeds in your seed giveaway, and I just wanted to thank you. I will be able to plant them at the right time, but the weekly challenge has gone out of the door for now. March will be two weeks since the op, so hopefully I'll be able to resume then. Thank you again for doing this!

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  17. Jan - hope you're recovering from your operation. Thanks for letting me know your seeds to arrive. You're most welcome to join the Salad Challenge whenever you're able :)

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  18. Okay... JUST found your challenge and I'm already doing well with it since we started a winter garden last fall for the first time. We are using a cold house green house - no heat. we have days of 0 degrees F and as low as -15 F. but all is well in my greenhouse. Sometimes the salads are frozen solid, then when the sun comes out they thaw out and pop back up.

    Here's the link to my pictures
    http://flowerydivide.blogspot.com/2012/01/january-garden.html

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  19. Hi Acceptance With Joy and welcome! I love you pictures of goosey :)

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