Archive | February, 2015

Sprout Talk – Chia Edition

27 Feb

More snow on the ground this morning. I’ve been coaxing seeds to open up and spread their green-ness in order to make me happy and increase the oxygen in my place. This post has been sitting for about 10 days while I watched everything grow. Some great success, some mild success.

Three weeks ago I planted a pot of chia seeds because that’s all I had here in my kitchen. I normally just toss them into smoothies and such, sometimes make a pudding out of them, etc. A sprinkling of seed, some water, and in a few days, TINY GREEN CHIA SPROUTS! Too much soil for eating, though. Chia sprouts When seeds germinate by having a soak in water, they release sugars and proteins to help nourish the wee baby plant in its first few days, changing the flavor and making the seed and new sprout itself very healthy. (By the way, this is also the first step in making beer. Germinated grains are dried, milled, and added to water. The newly freed sugars feed the yeast that’s then added to ferment. This was my old life. Message me if you want to talk alcohol production!) Because they grow in just a few days and don’t require planting OR light, they’re great for winter snacking. I don’t know why I didn’t think to do it earlier.

Looking online I found several sprouting trays for purchase and decided on a cute $18 one from Amazon that is 6″ in diameter. Hm…. I looked into making my own and found directions for trays and jars. Both would take just a few minutes to assemble. I had everything I needed for three small stacking trays using cleaned take out containers, so I went that way.

I drilled lots of drainage holes in the two shorter containers and one of the larger ones and carefully cleaned off all of the plastic “shards” from the drilling. The undrilled containers act as drip trays. Then I took one of the lids and cut out most of the inside so I had only the rim left over. I attached the lid to an large undrilled container, and the large drilled container fit right in. Then the smaller drilled container inside that, then a full lid, so I had two “levels” there. The second small drilled container fit into the last large undrilled container, then a lid.

3 large, 2 small, 3 lids

3 large, 2 small, 3 lids

Lots of holes for drainage

Lots of holes for drainage

3 large, 2 small, 3 lids

3 large, 2 small, 3 lids

 

 

 

 

 

 

I folded some paper towels and cut them into circles to fit inside the containers over the drainage holes. Two dampened circles per tray, unless you’re using really thick paper. Seeds need to soak for a few hours (or overnight) before hanging out to sprout. Rinse them, then add to them to the sprouter. Chia seeds, you may know, get somewhat gelatinous. After they soaked for a bit and were good and gooey, I spooned a decent amount into each of the three trays, added a bit of water to the top and gently pressed on the lid. (I wound up not using them to allow for better air flow, just let them sit on top w/o snapping it on.) The excess water dripped down to the bottom trays, so there was no worry about over watering.

Soaked chia seeds

Soaked chia seeds

With paper towel filters

With paper towel filters

Small inside large, inside large with cut out lid.

Small inside large, inside large with cut out lid.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, it worked, and it didn’t. They sprouted, but before they did that, they stunk. I mean, rotting fish stunk. There was plenty of airflow, and I even removed the tops altogether. I’m happy to say the smell went away after they were fully sprouted. There seems to be a sweet spot in the growth where the sprouts were tastiest. Once they had a set of big green leaves (and by big I mean about 1/4″ each) they got bitter. What was pretty cool though was that the roots bonded with the paper towel, making something of a chia mat.

Photo Feb 19, 11 53 40 PM

Stinky, maggot looking sprouts.

Photo Feb 26, 3 56 33 PM

Roots embedded in paper towel

Photo Feb 26, 3 57 24 PM

Roots in paper towel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Feb 26, 3 56 06 PM

These guys wound up getting really big! 2/26

Photo Feb 26, 3 55 50 PM

Final day, 2/26

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This was the first part of my sprouting experiment. I also used quart sized canning jars to sprout mung beans, adzuki beans, and buckwheat groats. More of that in the next post.

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Snowy Rooftop Morning

17 Feb

I went up to the roof ONLY to take some pretty pictures of our snowfall from last night. We got about 6″ here in in Arlington, a decent amount. We might get some more in a day or two. Our temps are VERY low, though, in the single digits at night and teens and 20s during the day.

Decent snowfall

Decent snowfall

Here are some bright morning photos. I really liked the way the snow fell in between the slats in the deck.

Untouched by footprints!

Untouched by footprints!

Clear sky!

Clear sky!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The garden was covered in a blanket of fluffy snow. Finally, we get lovely snow! Not really that good for snowballs or snowmen, but easy enough to shovel and clean off of stuff. So far this season we’ve had heavy, wet snow or “wintry mix” that just isn’t nice.

Image 9

Tank

Tank

Tank

Tank

 

 

 

Another shot of the slats.

Decking

Decking

 

Shhhhh! The thyme is sleeping!

Thyme

Thyme

Happy Tu B’Shevat! (Some Indoor Plant Chat)

4 Feb

Happy Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish “birthday of the trees”!

In honor of this fun holiday, a bit of indoor seed starting chat.

I’ve been growing seedlings inside, mostly herbs, not necessarily for consumption but more for sport, if you will. Right now I have ginger, basil, parsley.

I make ginger beer. Right now for fun, but we’ll see what happens with it. Anyway, I wanted to see if I could grow my own ginger. I started with a few pieces of organic ginger root, left them in a bag in the fridge, and when they grew “nubs,” I planted them in a pot. It grew very quickly and sprouted several stalks. Now it’s just a pretty ornamental. Kind of looks like bamboo, and it has a scent that is bright, almost grassy citrus. Smells very clean. I’ll plant it outside in the roof garden when temps get to about 60-65F. From what I’ve read, harvest should start after about a year, enough time to let the root system grow. After all, we’re hacking off chunks of the root. I don’t know if I’ll be able to hold back and let it grow. We’ll follow this ginger development over the next few months.

Ginger, about two weeks after planting.

Ginger, about two weeks after planting.

Many fragrant stalks.

Many fragrant stalks.

Ginger, happily growing today.

Ginger, happily growing today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baby basil seedlings, Dec 1, 2014

Baby basil seedlings, Dec 1, 2014

Basil today.

Basil today.

I planted some basil, too. These guys first went in in December, and they’ve barely grown since then. I just started to see a second set of leaves from the few remaining seedlings, so that’s nice. Normally by 10 weeks we’d be significantly larger, but we’re not outside here.

 

Parsley today, planted Dec 1, 2014

Parsley today, planted Dec 1, 2014

Same story with the parsley. Second, and some third, sets of leaves, but not that much else going on. More lanky, lazy looking parsley. I was considering letting my rabbit have at these seedlings, but I can’t let her eat my science experiment just yet!

I do have actual seed starting pots and pellets that I’ll bring out in about a month or so. I’m going to build a little seed starting box and see if I can get some plants to grow upstairs this year instead of buying ready baby plants. I’ll probably stick with herbs, but we’ll see how adventurous I’m feeling.

 

Oh, here’s my ginger beer!

Rabbit's Domain Ginger Beer!

Rabbit’s Domain Ginger Beer!

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