Sunday, 16 July 2017

Microgreens Week Four: Learning By Doing

There are plenty of sites and blogs that will show you exactly how to grow microgreens efficiently every time, and there's no need for me to add to them. They have been very useful on my own journey into this wonderful little world over the past month, but it's too easy to lose your joy along the way by sticking too closely to instructions. I enjoy learning by doing, which involves making mistakes. Quite a lot of them. My first tray of pea shoots was a disaster:

Mould spread quickly, and there was very little growth, none of it edible.  I'd soaked the seeds overnight before sowing (good) but covered them with a thin layer of soil, rather than leaving them exposed (bad).  I also didn't cover or weigh them down, just left them as they were (inadvisable).

After covering, weighing down and leaving my trays of peas less exposed to direct sunlight, I had more success:

Still, even when covered, it's hard to keep the flies away.  Not knowing what I was doing, I sprinkled some dried lavender among the pea shoots.  This had no positive effect whatsoever.

On day five, mould invaded the mung beans.  I'd been lax in my considerations of sterilising my trays, and avoiding damp, and this was the result:

Only a few of these survived at all, and began a journey of their own in my kitchen:

So it goes.

I'm very impressed with rambo radish seeds.  The ones I bought have yielded a wonderful crop in only six days, and I've been snacking on them ever since.

Today I started some new trays, on my new shelves.  Attempting to learn from and take on board some of the expertise out there, I've made the following improvements:

1.  Sterilising trays.  I've submerged the trays in hot water with a splash of bleach and a splash of white vinegar for about 5 minutes, before rinsing and leaving to dry.

2.  Cinnamon as a fly repellent.  I've read about this in a few places, and I'm intrigued.  I sprinkled a little cinnamon powder into each tray on top of the soil, about this much:

I've raked this in and patted down the soil before adding the seeds.

3.  Allowing the seeds a little more space.  I've noticed that pea shoots need a little more room than I've been giving them to put down their roots and for the shoot to emerge.  With this in mind, I've not used as many per tray as I did previously.  Hopefully this should result in a higher yield overall.  Only about half to two thirds of the pea seeds I've sown have actually given me edible shoots.  I'm sure this can be improved upon.

4.  Using red wine vinegar as a fly trap.  Just in case the cinnamon isn't enough, or has some unforeseen consequences, I've fallen back onto the old reliability of vinegar, of the red wine variety this time.  If you've ever left an unfinished glass of red wine overnight only to find the next morning it's become the final resting place of small colony of flies, you'll know how much they like to kill themselves by drowning in red wine.  It would be silly and excessive to use red wine intentionally for this purpose - but red wine vinegar, being considerably cheaper and much more disgusting as a drink, serves perfectly.  Thus a small bowl of the stuff has accompanied each tray:

And that, my friends, is that.  Today in total I started two trays of peas, another tray of mung beans and for the first time, a tray of adzuki beans.  Browsing through Tesco yesterday, I quickly checked online as to what sort of dried beans they sold there produce edible sprouts.  Adzuki beans seemed like the most interesting option.  All the seeds have been soaked for over eight hours before sowing, and are weighed down with a couple of books on top of the fleece material I use to cover all my trays.  

It's going to be an interesting week.

To read about my micogreen growing experiments from the beginning, start here.  To see all posts about microgreens, click here.

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