March 25th, 2008
…particularly in the winter, when the weather is inhospitable for gardening or even venturing out to a favorite restaurant. I keep herbs on the kitchen counter. That’s also why I sprout everything from wheat berries to mung beans to adzukis to alfalfa to add to breads, salads or other dishes. Sprouts boost the taste AND the nutrition in one fell swoop. So when I saw the recent proliferation in seed catalogs for microgreens, the cartoon light bulb over my head lit right up.
KA-PING!!! I bet I can grow these in my light garden! Then I can have gourmet greens in my own kitchen 12 months out of the year. Why didn’t I think of this before?
To get started, I ordered a set of microgreens seeds from Cook’s Garden, which included Beet Bull’s Blood, Broadleaf Cress, Kohlrabi Chancellor, Cutting Celery, Pea Green Arrow and Spinach Rembrandt. Each seed was packaged separately. Cost: $13.95 for six typical packets of seeds–.4 grams to 2 oz each. I also ordered the spicy microgreens mix from the Sprout People, which included Daikon Radish, Cress and Arugula. These seeds were mixed together. Cost: $9.95 for a one-pound bag of organic seeds.
Clearly, the Cook’s Garden quantities were minuscule compared with the Sprout People seeds, especially when you consider that the plants aren’t going to mature to big plants, but will be hacked off at the roots and eaten as baby plants. You will need quite a lot of seeds for microgreens.
I planted one box of soilless potting mix with the Cutting Celery and Broadleaf Cress from Cook’s Garden and one with the seed mix from the Sprout People. All of the seeds sprouted and grew beautifully in the light garden in just a few days. I was able to clip off just what I wanted to add to salads or to add atop sandwiches. The sprouts have stayed crisp, fresh and zingy for several weeks while I continue to clip them. Fabulous!
If you want to try your own microgreens, you can plant them in traditional plastic sprouting trays on a windowsill or under grow lights. The Sprout People also offer a hemp bag sprouter that looks quite handy and can be used for microgreens.
So now I can have teeny tiny salad greens year round. Now that’s a fabulous find!
Posted In: Gardening
March 24th, 2008
I have long been a big fan of hellebores. I planted ours about four years ago. They were a bit slow to get established, which apparently is not altogether unusual. Then last year–their third year–they took off. This year they are really making a show of themselves. I tidied mine up yesterday and thought I would do a little show and tell. But now I can’t resist a bit of hellebores boosterism too. So if you haven’t yet added some to your garden, let me offer seven reasons why you should.
1. Hellebores can be grown in a variety of locations. They are most famously known as shade plants. That is true. They do grow nicely in the shade, as you can see from the hellebores on the north side of our house. But they are very flexible plants and will bloom very nicely, thank you very much, in partly sunny areas as well.
2. Hellebores bloom very early. Here in Maryland they bloom in February–long before the forsythia and daffodils make an appearance–and last well into summer.
3. Hellebores are green all year long. Unlike some perennials, such as irises, that get unsightly after the blooms are spent, hellebores keep up their appearance even in the coldest and hottest months of the year.
4. Hellebores require little care. Once you have established hellebores in a well-prepared bed, the only maintenance required is trimming off the old foliage in February or late winter or when they become scraggly. Divide them in the spring to ensure good ventilation.
5. Although not the boldest colors in the garden, hellebores come in a variety of colors, from white to pink to deep purple to green.
6. Hellebores have relatively few pests and diseases. Although no plant is invulnerable to attack, hellebores are amazingly hardy.
7. Once established, hellebores are drought tolerant. And if you lived through the drought last summer like I did, you know there are lots of other plants that are much more finicky about their water than hellebores.
Are you convinced yet? And if you have them, how are you hellebores?