Around this time of year, we haven’t really got anything growing in our garden that we can eat, apart from some hardy herbs. So while we are waiting for the first asparagus and broad beans and for the ground to warm up enough to plant some salad crops, this is the perfect time to do some windowsill gardening. You may be lucky enough to find cress, or even better, mustard and cress, in a supermarket – and a wider variety of sprouts in a health food store. But sadly so often these delightful packages of nutrition are hard to find, so it’s grow your own or go without.
This week I have been growing puy lentils, mung beans and alfalfa seeds.
I love the light crunchy texture of the lentils, which have the flavour of fresh peas. Mung bean sprouts are perfect to add at the last minute to a stir fry. Alfalfa sprouts make a great addition to an egg mayonnaise or a peanut butter sandwich.
You don’t need to be a gardener or green-fingered, and you don’t need a lot of space or time to make a success. You can grow them in a jar, or in a special sprouter, as I have here:
There is a huge variety of seeds that are suitable for sprouting. The act of germination and growing of seeds creates a wide variety of changes to the nutritional value and sprouts are reportedly more easily digested and contain higher available nutrients and protein than the seeds from which they are grown. Lots more info here – http://www.sproutnet.com/Sprouts-for-Optimum-Nutrition
Next time I am going to do fenugreek, mustard and aduki beans.
You can buy a salad sprouter here at Nicky’s Nursery along with a huge array of seeds (for those in the UK only).
Growing tips: Make sure that your kit is scrupulously clean. Some larger seeds will benefit from being soaked overnight initially. Then rinse and drain. Rinse the sprouts at least twice daily and do not leave in standing water. Keep in the light or the dark (grown in the dark are more crunchy I hear), but ensure good air flow around them. Keep out of direct sunlight. Aim for a reasonably even temperature of 15 – 20c. Harvest just as the leaves start to show. Sprouts that are ready may be kept in the fridge for a couple of days, but do not store well for longer.