Grow Your Own!
Winter Vegetable and Herb Gardening

When the snow flies—and it will—my eyes get hungry for green. And lucky for us, there are many ways grow things over the winter with the added benefit that we can eat them! Plus it’s fun for littles because it is almost instant gratification, and we learn about taking care of things and where food comes from. I read somewhere that our houses are, in fact, already greenhouses, and I love that, don’t you? 

Sprouts are easy and nutritious. Like food we forage, it doesn’t get any fresher than this.  They mature in as few as three to five days and don’t need soil, fertilizer, or sunshine to grow! To start, get a wide-mouth mason jar, some cheesecloth or a special lid (People’s Food Co-op has lids) and some seeds made for sprouting. (People’s People’s Co-op and Natural Grocers have some.) Sterilize the jar and soak the seeds in undiluted store-bought vinegar for 15 minutes, then rinse and soak the seeds in water overnight. In the morning, rinse the seeds again and put them in the mason jar. Put the lid on and tilt the jar, lid side down, at an angle—I use a colander—in a somewhat dark, yet well-ventilated, place. 

This next part is very important—rinse the seeds in somewhat cool water with several gentle rinses, two to three times a day. Go ahead and talk sweetly to them, too, if you wish. In a few days, you will see tails. Keep rinsing and talking sweetly to them until you see tiny leaves that divide. They are now ready to eat! If you wish to green them up, put them in indirect light for a few hours. How to eat them? Smoothies, salads and wraps are obvious ideas or put them on top of  whatever you are already eating—soup, pizza, pasta, mac and cheese, whatever. 

We can grow shoots from popcorn seeds like the ones from the bulk bin at the co-op, as well as sunflower seeds and beans too. Plan about eight to 10 days to harvest. Soak the seeds in vinegar for 15 minutes, then in water overnight. Then grow them the same way as sprouts (in a tilted sterilized mason jar with cheesecloth or screen lid in a somewhat dark room with ventilation), rinsing and draining at least every 12 hours. Popcorn shoots taste better white. The other shoots you can also green up by placing in indirect light for a few hours. 

Microgreens are also fun and amazingly simple, though they take a little longer—seven to 21 days—for you to enjoy your bounty. The Greensted sells kits for $8—pea shoot, broccoli and red cabbage—that have almost everything you need! (You do need something with which to punch holes in the bottom of the container—that should be  easy.) Once you get the hang of it, you can take it from there!

For more information: 

“The Sprout Book” by Doug Evans 

The Greensted, Zumbrota

About Author

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Chris is currently a certified yoga therapist and formerly a lawyer who likes people, writing, making things and foraging, because it’s all yoga all of the time.

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