Sunday, 9 January 2011

Seeds - sprouting to eat and testing viability

I love seeds - little packets of potential, each and every one.

In fact I'm sure that my excitement at seeing growth burst forth those seeds is part of my enticement to sprout seeds to eat, like these green lentils, that are just starting to put out their first shoots (or is it roots?).

Anyway, it genuinely does excite me every time I see my seeds come alive.

At this time of year I have to resort to putting them into the airing cupboard at night to encourage them.

I always have something in my seed sprouter. As well as green lentils (which taste mildy spicy) I like a steady supply of alfalfa -

Here it is ready for consumption (usually in salads or smoothies)

I also liked sprouted beans, these are some adzuki beans I'm sprouting in an old cotton tea sock.

Mung beans are also a favourite. There is something very fresh and alive about eating these tender wee shoots. They are also very nutritious.

Luckily, the time has come when I can do more than sprout my alfalfa. I have a plethora of seeds thats I've collected and part used over the past few years. I'm not sure which are still viable, so I test them by sprouting them.

I soak them in water for 6 - 12 hours and then pout them in a container on some damp kitchen roll and put them in the airing cupboard for warmth.
I can already happily note that my pea bijou and cherokee trail of tears beans from 2009 are still viable. I'd nearly given up on my Jacob's cattle bean (below) but even they are making a belated .. and slightly begrudging attempt to come to life.

I have many more to try and I think its better to do it now, than try to sow them in the spring, find out what isn't viable, order more and wait for delivery. This way, I'm pretty sure of what will grow and what won't. It also keeps me busy in these 'lean' sowing times, before things really get busy in March.

Of course, I couldn't resist starting some onions from seed today. I've decided to pre soak them overnight although I don't know if they need it, but there's no harm in it.

In the clear glass we have onion batalan and in the pink glass we have long red florence.

Last week I started some broad beans (Super Aquadulce) - which I'm sure do benefit from pre soaking, as it really helps them swell and take up water. I'm sure it gives them a head start.
I had to start them off in the house, in an unheated propagator. I tried starting them last year in the glass barn, but my first sowing was eaten by mice.
This time, I'll wait until the shoots appear before putting them out or in the barn.

In the picture below, if you look VERY carefully, you can see the very first signs of shoots coming up. I'm starting to salivate at the thought of them already - silly me.

I'll do some successional sowing of my broad beans this year, as they were very popular last year and I'd love to extend the season. I'll start them off in modules and probably plant the first batch in containers (they did well in containers last year) and, fingers crossed, I might be able to transplant the second batch to the Leitrim garden .. or put them in containers that we could bring down to Leitrim, if we get to start building again.

The date for the planning decision is set for the end of January. I've asked the engineer and councillor to talk to the planners now, so if they have any issues with the new reports we can sort it now. Otherwise, their favourite game is to wait and send a letter asking for further information on the decision due date, thus postponing the decision (they must have done this twice already).

So, fingers and toes are crossed that we get it sorted this time. The environmental impact report is glowingly good, we've made more changes to the reedbed spec, including better drainage around the bed, and added a willow bed to the sewerage system to comply with their new regulations (that came in after we'd built the reed bed and had the plans for it approved) .. and we've been waiting since the end of September 2009 to get this sorted. (At the time they said it would take 6 - 8 weeks. Things really do move at their own pace in Ireland).

It really would - will ? - be lovely to tell you all that the 'adventure' is resumed and that we'll get down to resume the build and the gardening in Leitrim this Spring.

Until then, I can keep planning the details .. and dreaming of having our own home and garden again.


  1. My Snow Peas have finished but the season is still promising, soI've grabbed some old withered pods of the vine and stripped out the peas and planted them in plantar pots - will see what happens.

    My beans are also done and were a bit of a disappointment - too much humidity I reckon.

    I'm picking tomatoes off the vine and will cook up 6 this afternoon to make a sauce for a braised steak and mushroom dish.

    My pumkin plants have taken over the bottom quarter of the yard and I needed to cut a path to the shed - lots of flowers so here's hoping - Butternuts and Blue Kent's.

  2. Hi Ferris, glad you blogged about sprouting! I'm thinking I should try this on the seeds I am less confident about. Don't apologise for salivating over broad bean shoots! I'm the same. I started off half a dozen to grow in a container on our rather small patio this year, but now that I have the allotment I have grand plans for long rows sown successionally... How do you support your broad beans?

    I have my fingers crossed for you with the planning situation. Self-build is a long time dream of mine, so sad to see it turn into a nightmare for you.

  3. Hi John - to think of you 'mid-season' .. has me tempted to spend some time in warmer climes to relish the growing season (oh the thought of fresh tomatoes!). Good luck with extending the pea crop.
    In my books pumpkins are real thugs. I was forever cutting them back to get to my paths in the polytunnel that first year I grew them. I'm a bit wiser to their ways now.. and they're well worth it. Butternut squash is one of my favourites. I've never tried Blue Kent.

    Hi Plantalicious. I'm glad I'm not the only one drooling over my tiny broad bean shoots. I support mine with twigs in between plants .. and sometimes string around the twigs if it gets windy or they get too tall.
    I'd give sprouting a go - very easy and simple.
    Thanks for crossing fingers for us regarding the planning - it all helps, all positive energy. Hopefully, soon, it will just be a past 'blip' and we'll be busy again creating our house and garden. I won't let it spoil the joy of self building .. 'cos I'm only doing it the once and I want to make the most of the experience.

  4. Thanks for this timely reminder about sprouting seeds, I'm often rather careless about proper storage of seeds, so it's a good idea to test them out before the season, I'm getting my little dishes out tonight!

  5. Hi Cottage Garden Farmer.

    I'm glad that this posting has inspired you to try out your seeds. It saves waste from throwing away good, viable seed ... or disappointment from sowing seed that won't germinate and waiting in vain for them to appear.

    Happy sprouting. I've done some more today myself.

  6. Mmmm... I love sprouts too! I think you've just inspired me to start some alfalfa and mung beans. They are so nutritious and super delicious!

  7. Hi Mrs J. Glad you share my love of sprouts. I think they're very underrated. They just taste so fresh and alive and they're so versatile.
    I put them in salads, soups, stir frys, on crackers with hummus, in my 'special' superfood smoothies, as garnishes ... and I sometimes just grab a few as a passing snack when I go past the sprouter.
    How do you use yours?

  8. I really must get into sprouting seeds for our salads...I keep thinking about doing this but have yet to do so. Wishing you the best of luck on the home and garden for this year.:)


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