Tag Archives: kootenays

Microgreens and pea shoots for fresh little greens all winter

Microgreens - peas - Kootsac

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.

Kootsac microgreensStarting top left: cress, mixed brassicas (mostly mustard family), and peas

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.

microgreens - KootsacCress 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.

Kootsac microgreensMixed microgreens and young peashoots in recycled containers

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My Precious Seeds

September brings harvest, and my most precious garden treasures are my seeds. I am always charmed by the beautiful pods of beans that I pluck and shuck every Fall from my garden.

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This year for the first time I tried growing lentils. I was surprised that they came in such tiny little pods. Nothing like the beans I grow and shuck every year. Look at the difference in size:

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From left to right: Snow peas, which I call the Kootenay snow pea because they have been grown here for well over 20 years, (I grow them every year from my own seeds), a variety of Dragon’s Tongue which I call Jack Harvey beans after the restaurant I worked at who grew them, Orca beans, Black Coco beans, beautiful big white Italian Roma beans, and above them the tiny French lentils, and on the far right, the French fillet beans ( our favourite summer green bean for fresh eating.

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Jack Harvey beans are the yummiest bean for making baked beans. I do them in the crockpot and next time I make them I will post the recipe. They are chunky, buttery and delicious!

Small Things

This is where I live: in a small village on the Slocan Lake in the mountains of the Kootenay region of British Columbia, Canada.

New Denver, Slocan Lake

View from Idaho Peak – New Denver on Slocan Lake in the summer

This beautiful landscape and all the other lands I have ever lived in provide inspirational sustenance for the way I live my life. The small things living inside this landscape touch my being every day and it is through these daily interactions with nature that I find guidance on how to live my life. Nature is my motivation, my teacher and my muse. It is the small things in nature that are constant reminders that smallness is important, that small things matter, that small things grow into big things, that a landscape is made up of little miracles, and that the world can be changed by small things, one action and one individual at a time.

Butterfly on Idaho Peak, BCButterfly on wildflowers, Idaho Peak above New Denver, BC

It was this concept of small which motivated me to create my very first Kootsac bags in 2007. I was on a mission to reduce as much plastic in our household as I could and those little plastic bags that kept coming in with bulk bin food and produce were driving me crazy. In an effort to at least reuse them I would wash them and hang them out to dry on the back porch. We would walk into a wall of them every time we went out the back door, and we had bags of plastic bags. I began to think about how many plastic bags were used and thrown away in other households all over the world. My mind boggled. I searched for reusable bags to replace them and when I found none available for sale I went to work designing and making my own. I called them Kootsacs because they are little ‘sacks’ made right here in my studio in the Kootenays.

Morgen in her studioMorgen in her fiber art studio

Kootsac bags are made with lightweight ripstop nylon or natural silk for bulk food bin shopping, and in unbleached cotton muslin for produce. Cotton produce bags are printed with my original screenprint designs of butterflies and bees – a reminder by these small delicate creatures that the earth needs our care and protection.

Butterfly produce bag‘Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair’. ~ Kahlil Gibran~