Updated: Oct 17, 2022
In this blog and continuing blogs, I will share gardening tips I’ve learned from Melinda Myers who is an award winning horticulturist. This first blog involves microgreens and sprouts. We all have been hit by the crazy rising food prices. Additionally, many of us may try and buy organic but that usually even adds more food cost. When we don’t buy organic we don’t know what chemicals may have been used on our food. Also, often food is shipped to us from hundreds and maybe thousands of miles away. When we grow our own food we save money, know how it has been grown and what has been used on it, and the shorter time between harvest and food preparation, the better the flavor and increased nutrient value. Here, we go from harvest to dinner table.
Let’s start with lentil seeds. You can purchase if you want cannisters or containers especially made for growing sprouts but it is also very easy to use items you may already have. For the lentil sprouts, you will need a mason jar, cheese cloth, and lentil seeds. It is important according to Ms. Myers that you are starting from actual seeds for the best product and result. Store the seeds in the refrigerator until you are ready.
When you are ready, take the seeds and place them in the mason jar or other container and let the seeds soak overnight. Letting them soak overnight is important to loosen the seed coat to allow sprouting. After they have soaked, drain the water and put the seeds in the mason jar and cover the opening of the mason jar with the cheese cloth (cheese cloth is important because it is breathable and allows for water penetration) You will rinse the seeds twice a day by pouring water into the mason jar through the cheese cloth and swirling the water around in the jar. Then, dump the water back out through the cheese cloth. Rinsing twice a day will help keep the seeds hydrated and will decrease the chance of mold. At the end of 5 days, you should have sprouts to can harvest for your dinner salad.
You can also do a similar thing with sunflower seeds. Ms. Myers recommends getting a seed sprouting kit. She also likes to use recycled fast food containers which have lids to increase the humidity in the container. You place the sunflower seeds on the seed sprouting soil and cover them with more soil and gently water. It is good if the container has a bottom where excess water can pass. You will quickly see sprouts starting to form and these sprouts like the lentils may be harvested and used for dinner salad or meals.
Window sill herbs and spices- Good spices and herbs for your window sill are basil, chives, oregano, thyme, and parsley. Basil tends to carry larger blooms, so it can sit in its own pot. The other herbs and spices can be combined in a window sill planter which you can obtain at your Lawn and Garden Center.
For appearance, you might put the chives in the middle with Thyme and Oregano holding down the two outer edges. For best lighting and growing you can get a light for the countertop. The light should be kept 4-6 inches above the plants. This is the ideal distance. Run lights only for 14-16 hours a day- beyond that you are just wasting energy.
Blue lights encourages growth in plants and stems which you would want for herbs. Red light encourages flowering for fruits and well flowers. CF bulbs can provide the full spectrum of light.
You can also put a reflective surface such as aluminum foil under the plant base for additional help.
Regular harvesting is good for plants and will encourage continued success.