Pea shoots with seeds saved from our summer snow peas
This is something I have been resisting for years – growing indoor edibles, because it seemed kind of a waste of electricity and maybe used more energy than it was worth. But, living where we do means that we rely on trucking produce in during the winter months. Though we try to eat as much of our own homegrown winter storage vegetables like potatoes, squash, garlic and carrots, and we can get local onions, beets and other root vegetables, greens are a different story. When I started to see tiny bags of micro greens for sale in stores at quite high prices I thought I’d give it a try.
We have a grow light to start our seedlings in the spring and we set it up on a table and created a little indoor gardening station, with a bag of Sunshine mix, an assortment of mostly recycled containers, a spray bottle for water and of course seeds. Some of the seeds are seeds saved from our own garden, like the peas, cilantro and cress, and I can see a lot of potential for saving other seeds this summer. Though we purchased soil this year, next season I will make my own as I usually do from compost, peat moss and vermiculite. We also have a small heat mat just for sprouting seeds when it is really cold, and a timer to control the grow light.
So far we have tried: peas (saved from our own snow peas grown in the Kootenays for over 20 years), cress (both summer and winter), broccoli, mixed micro greens and sunflowers seeds purchased from West Coast Seeds , mizuna, cilantro, basil and beets. By far the best have been the pea shoots which take about a week to sprout and then grow fast They are quite substantial greens and they will grow another two or three cuttings after the first one before they start getting tough and stringy. Cilantro and basil take longer to grow but are quite a treat on curries and pasta dishes – I plant them much closer together than you would normally. Most of our greens are eaten on top of rice bowls which are a staple for us.
Cress and two week microgreen blend from West Coast Seeds and in the background peas which are growing again after the first cutting
Since these little greens are grown in very little soil ( 2 to 3 inches) they will deplete the soil fairly quickly. If you want to grow them for longer, as in the case of the peas, herbs, or if you want baby greens, I have discovered that making a herbal infusion of herbs such as nettles, oatstraw or comfrey makes a nutritious treat for these little gardens. I dilute the tea with water before using.