Grow Fresh Greens In Your Kitchen Garden
Harvest Sprouts and Micro-greens All Winter Long Using the Agriculture of Tomorrow
BY STEVE MEYEROWITZ, “Sproutman®”
Food… we all need it! And for our health and healing, fresh food is the kind we need most. As the winter season approaches, fresh local food can be hard to come by, especially if you live in Canada. You don’t need a research lab to prove that the best food in the world is the kind you grow in your own garden and bring to your dinner plate. But what if you don’t have a garden? What if you live in a region where you only get a four month growing season? What if there is two feet of snow outside your window?
With the world population expected to double in 30 years while the amount of arable land shrinks, and the cost of fuel and transportation continues to rise, how are we going to produce adequate amounts of quality food? And how will we afford it?
This is where kitchen gardening can save your health! You don’t need a back yard. You don’t need to schedule planting dates, or consider temperature, harvest times, northern light, southern exposure, etc. None of that! You don’t even need a “green thumb.” You can be a kitchen gardener in January or July, in Alaska or Atlanta. There is no soil. One ounce of seeds produces about 10-12 ounces of baby greens, the equivalent of a head of lettuce. And because these are living plants, they store for up to three weeks when you put them in the fridge. Think of that the next time you throw out that limp lettuce after only a few days!
Kitchen gardeners grow many of the same things as backyard gardeners – radish, cabbage, broccoli, kale, sunflower, peas, garlic and chives. Farmers also grow alfalfa, buckwheat, and clover to enrich their soil. They are super nutritious for big and heavy cows and horses, but too fibrous for us in our salads…. unless they are baby alfalfa and baby buckwheat. When one week old, these plants are extremely delicate and delicious. While the backyard gardener harvests a crop in two to three months, the soil-free kitchen gardener gets a harvest every week!
Most people think of sprouts as the Asian “bean” sprouts – mung, adzuki, soybean, lentil, green pea, chick pea, etc. Bean sprouts look like beans with a “tail” on them. Eastern cultures traditionally use them in stir fries and wok dishes, but they also add crunchy texture and flavour to our salads and can make great dips and spreads.
On the other hand, “green” sprouts are different than bean sprouts and they provide more health and healing benefits. Most importantly, they deliver the benefits photosynthesis – the beginning of the food chain. Baby greens from alfalfa, clover, radish, cabbage, broccoli, sunflower, buckwheat, pea shoots, etc. are where the phytochemicals are found. Sure, they supply loads of vitamins and minerals, but it’s the bio-flavonoids, polyphenols, antioxidants, carotinoids, isoflavones, glucosinolates that provide the healing power to prevent and reverse disease.
We have research that demonstrates that baby vegetables contain 50 to 100 times more medicinal compounds than mature versions of the same vegetables. That’s the healing power you need. If you already take herbs and juices for their therapeutic benefits, then start supercharging your salad with these power-packed baby greens.
TOOLS FOR GROWING MICRO-GREENS
How hard is it to grow these? Easy! I know… your kitchen is small and you don’t have enough space or enough light. Don’t fret! First, put away those old mason jars. They take up too much space and time and they trap air and moisture. That creates the perfect conditions for the development of mould. They’re great for storing your beans, but not for growing them. I invented the sprout bag as a replacement for jars. Not only do they breathe and drain perfectly, but they don’t take up any space on your counter. You can hang them! You don’t need to have a green thumb to grow these super-nutritious young veggies. Just dunk them at breakfast and dunk them at dinner. That’s two minutes per day. If you can use a tea bag, you can use a sprout bag!
If you want to grow micro-greens such as baby sunflowers, buckwheat lettuce, pea shoots, and wheatgrass, then you need a vertical growing system. I use sprouting trays and barrels either with or without soil. The greens grow straight up and yield the equivalent of one to three heads of lettuce every week in an 11 x 11 inch space. They can be stacked so there is really no limit to how much volume you want to grow.
We must do whatever we can to make ourselves more independent from the international food distribution network and to feed ourselves fresher, more nutritious food. Our food should not be tied to oil and gas prices, and for our health’s sake, we shouldn’t be eating food that just finished a 3,000 mile trip and was harvested last week! Become more self-sufficient. Save time and money. Instead of shopping and schlepping, start watering!
Home grown greens are fresh, delicious, cheaper, and healthier. And you don’t need a certificate to prove they are organic because you grew them yourself! Start supercharging your diet now. Just say: Green me up, Sproutman!
Catch Steve Meyerowitz at the New York City Vegetarian Food Festival, where he will give a talk about Juicing entitled “7 Days to a Juicer You” on Saturday, March 1st at 12:15 PM. For more information, see the Speakers Directory. To purchase the sprouting seeds, bags, trays, barrels, or other items mentioned here, contact Sproutman at (800) SPROUT-1 or visit the website here: Sproutman.