As we enter the dark, cold days of winter, you can still keep up your supply of fresh, highly nutritious food by moving some of your growing inside. With just two or three large jam jars for sprouts and four or five seed trays for leaves you can even be self sufficient in salad.
The salad you grow will be more nutritious and far more delicious than any salad you buy in the shops at this time of year – and it will cost you a fraction of the price.
Jobs for this month
- Make a sprouter (or three).
- Create a mini microleaf and shoots farm.
- Maintain outdoor winter crops, harvesting them sparingly.
- Enjoy planning and scheming for next year.
1. Make a sprouter
Sprouts are an amazing and extremely healthy food. If you’ve not eaten sprouts much before, you may find it will take a little time to get used to them and learn how to use them. Persevering – to find which sprouts you like and how to use them in your cooking – is really worth the effort.
Sprouts are so easy and quick to grow – and can be done at extremely low cost. All you need is a large jam jar – you can read all about how to do it here.
To grow sprouts in any quantity you’ll need a lot of seeds – and so you’ll want to find an affordable seed supply. Many sprouts, including lentils, mung beans, chickpeas, fenugreek and peas can be sprouted just as well from seed pulses sold for cooking. Alternatively, buying sprout seeds in bulk (eg 500g bags), will usually cost you a fraction of the cost of buying the small packs of seeds sold for sprouting (in the UK, I use Sky Sprouts).
2. Create a mini microleaf farm
To grow micro leaves and shoots inside you need a reasonably bright window or grow light. I grow mine on a four plastic trays on a small table, next to the window.
Many crops are delicious harvested as shoots or micro leaves including pea shoots, rocket, sunflower shoots, radish, coriander, and cabbage.
You can harvest micro salad leaves 10 – 20 days after sowing. Sow them thickly in a tray and you can get 150 – 300 gram of high flavour leaves from just one tray. You can use the same technique shown in this video here – just put the growing boxes on a tray to catch any drips.
Sow a couple of trays every week and you can enjoy a continual supply of fresh leaves. Use them on their own or to add colour and flavour to shop bought salad leaves.
3. Maintain outdoor crops
As in November, remember to water during dry spells (it’s easy to forget when its cold). The one time you don’t want to water is just before a freezing spell – the water will freeze in your pots, potentially damaging the roots.
You can harvest a few leaves from your winter salads over the month. They’ll most probably taste amazing! So that you don’t weaken your salads too much, harvest the leaves sparingly. You want your plants to retain strength so that when the weather warms in early spring, they will put on a growth spurt.
4. Planning and scheming for next year
Long, dark, cold evenings …. What better time to reflect on your successes and learning of the year? Even when growing in a small space there is so much you can learn from your experience each year. Applying this learning is the route to abundance!
You can also dream about what you want to grow next year, and plan where you’ll get your seeds (any seed swaps in your area in the spring?), where to add more pots (there’s nearly always space for one more!), and any new structures you might want to build.
Are you eating home grown food this month? If so, I’d love to hear what you’ve been able to grow in the comments below.
There is more about the huge variety of sprouts and micro greens and how you can grow them in the Vertical Veg Club.