This week in your Kitchen Garden.

Discussion in 'suburban75' started by Mrs Magpie, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    My first attempt at compost-grown "micro-greens" is underway.
    It remains to be seen how much food I produce in the part of my system devoted to it - though I anticipate it will easily beat the watercress which is still looking like very expensive garnish rather than salad.
    And I had to remove two frigging snails off it this morning :mad: - I'm going to deal with the gap in the window today.

    So :-

    green peas, sunflower seeds, broad beans.
    They will be in the dark for a few days until they start to sprout.


    the best sunflower seeds are reckoned to be the "black oil" variety - once I have my ozone steriliser set up, I will experiment with birdseed - which will also then be an option with hemp.

    I have no intention to start growing wheatgrass -pretty though it would be - but I am planning to start blending green smoothies - if only to deal with inevitable gluts.

    With regards the hydro watercress, I ordered an EC meter this morning to go with my PH meter and I should have some phosphoric acid waiting for me at work so I can start looking after the nutrients properly - not that there's any sign of imbalances or deficiencies yet.
    I have no idea yet how long to use the nutrient solution before emptying and refilling ...

    Though I'm not going to be able to keep both basil and watercress happy in the same tank ... my PH is currently around 7.

    Last edited: Jun 24, 2017
  2. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    So yesterday I decided I had to deal with the snails getting in through my wonky window which is due to be replaced early next year probably ...
    So I cut a sheet of marine ply to replace a rotten bit of frame and made it 6 inches longer so I got a useful shelf above the window to put my airpumps on...

    Then I greased along the edge of the top and bottom panes and injected masses of transparent silicone along the middle louvre. It doesn't look pretty, but it makes closing the window more meaningful - I also found some garden netting which I will staple to the outside so I will still be able to ventilate.

    It turns out that watercress and basil are not fond of acetic acid fumes in an enclosed space - I can't imagine why I didn't think to put up a polythene sheet ...
    Oh well, not much damage done and it will force me to chop the tops of the plants off.

    While I was outside I found one of my regular (marked) snails trying to get in ...

    nogojones likes this.
  3. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Wasabi !!!

    I'm not sure yet how I'm going to grow it.
    Perhaps I'll grow some outdoors to full size then force the root ...
    I'm certainly not going to turn them into expensive cress... though I will grow one or two to maturity and harvest some seed.
    It's reckoned to be a right barsteward to grow ...

    Last edited: Jun 26, 2017
  4. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    EIGHT fucking snails on my watercress this morning :mad:

    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
    tim likes this.
  5. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    My watercress experiment is not going well.
    I bought a PH tester, didn't calibrate it and when it read 8.0, squirted in a teeny amount of phosphoric acid and the readings went haywire ... then I dunked the PH tester too deep and the display went funny :( Hopefully it will dry out.

    So I syphoned out the old nutes, flushed with water then made up a fresh batch.

    But it's more than that.

    Watercress is not supposed to grow vertically and really wants to root all over the place so I'm going to switch to flood and drain using clay balls, or NFT - I'm thinking of a hybrid. Hopefully I have sufficient rainwater guttering and end stops and will be able to source suitable fittings for the return to the plastic toilet cistern I fortuitously bought several years ago. Since the new units will be lighter, hopefully I will be able to arrange them to swing out from the wall for access ... I say "them" because I will also have gained height so should be able to have two tiers.


    This is actually the method I briefly tried about 15 years ago.

    This means I had better order a new pump.
    Last edited: Jun 29, 2017
  6. TopCat

    TopCat Gone away, no forwarding address

    The ants seem determined to beat my efforts each year. Their relentless efforts to farm aphids on as many plants as possible is wearing.
    Pickman's model and gentlegreen like this.
  7. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    It's always slugs with me.
    Two of my brugs should be well away by now - but the bastards were so quick, it wasn't easy to see that the plants were still alive.
    Weirdly they munch the highly toxic nightshade relative, but leave the nasturtiums nearby which genuinely are salad ...
  8. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    The watercress so hated vertical growing the stems rotted off - so I'm starting again.
    The viable sideshoots are in the tank hopefully rooting, while I await the arrival of the new pump in about 10 days.

    Opportune really - it means I can get the new troughs ready - I will attempt to do without bell syphons - though that will mean I need to split the water delivery to feed both troughs independently and get the feed rate and timing and exit hole spot on...- there's actually room for two times two - though the light becomes somewhat challenging - perhaps I'll make the hinged support for that, but only deploy one or two initially ...

    Meanwhile I'm experimenting with a few new varieties.
    The microgreen side has yet to yield anything while the sprouting section is going great guns - I'm aiming to have one punnet of salad and one of cooking sprouts every day.
    I'm appreciating the benefits of pre-soaking..

    Sadly the adukis are still as sluggish as ever - looks like they may have been a bit old ...

  9. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    So we're back to square one with the hydro watercress, but this is more of an educational exorcise than agriculture.
    The plastic toilet cistern on the left holds twice as much nutrient solution as the trough did.
    I plan to make the new assembly swing out to the left on door hinges.
    The new cuttings will have rooted by the time the new pump arrives.

    Meanwhile there are sunflower and pea sprouts taking advantage of the light.

    I'm hoping that one benefit of the new arrangement will be more light getting through. newhydro.jpg
  10. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Too hot to do much in the outdoor garden, so I got the new troughs cut and they swing out nicely.
    Though I used chunky hinges, I will fit supports for them to sit on when in position and I'm not yet ruling out tensile struts - even though the clay granules I'm using are relatively light - worst case 3 litres of water = 3KG.

    Last edited: Jul 2, 2017
  11. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    Love the thought that you have regular snails. Do you remove them? If so how far do you take them? You could always consider taking them on the bike for a bit
    Calamity1971 and gentlegreen like this.
  12. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    Just cropped my first Swiss chard of the year for dinner later
    gentlegreen likes this.
  13. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Some years I've relocated masses of them on the way to work.
    That lot only went to the end of the garden where there's masses of bamboo bits for them to eat :)
  14. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Do you get leaf miners in yours ?
  15. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    I had a little bit when the chard were small, but they seem to prefer the celeriac
  16. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    You can take them really far away. They won't get homesick 'cos their home is on their back.
    tim and gentlegreen like this.
  17. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I'm definitely going for a bell syphon - it should be easy enough to do with domestic plumbing fittings.

    Last edited: Jul 3, 2017
  18. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Linseed - another gloopy ("mucilaginous") seed - even moreso than cress (I narrowly averted a flood when it completely jammed-up my sprouting tower) - but with health benefits that make it worth growing and I can use more bland salad to go with the hot and spicy.

    I see now why the supermarket sells sprouted rape instead - cress is not very pleasant tasting compared to radish - hot and dry - but it lasts for weeks in suspended animation by just wetting the kitchen towel - seemingly indestructible - so it might be an option for gardening on a bike tour :D
    I have 3 kinds of mustard seed to try.

    The real winner of the seeds that need a substrate is pea shoots - seriously yummy and cut-and-come-again - so along with setting up my hydro troughs this weekend, I will also fit two in parallel so that a succession of tubs of pea shoots can mop up any light not used by the watercress. They seem to like to put down roots through the teeny drain-holes so perhaps I will experiment with weak nutrients in the troughs.

    I'm off to a local Oriental supermarket today to see if I can find some new seeds to try - soy beans are definitely on the cards - the broad beans I bought from the deli were only about 30 percent viable.

    I was very annoyed when the hemp seeds from H&B failed to germinate - perhaps they're nuked for the paranoid US market ... I have a different brand to try, but as with sunflower seeds, I reckon I will be trying the pet shop - who might also stock English field beans.
    I am trying to source a cheap supply of hydrogen peroxide to deal with potential e-coli in uncertified seeds - though my ozone kit when it arrives might be a viable alternative.

  19. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I have now fitted all four lengths of gutter - thus providing room for six trays of microgreens - though I reckon I'm going to start growing some of them elsewhere.
    - I probably need six trays of pea sprouts alone on the go to get a decent supply.

    I've found three concentric sections of pipe to make the automatic bell syphons. Annoyingly I can't find 15mm tank fittings really cheap locally or even on ebay :confused: . I'm so tempted to bodge it with grommets and silicone goo .... I will probably have to shell out for 22mm for the return to the tank to cope with the flow from a 15mm pipe...

    Unbelievably I also paid silly money at the garden centre for two 13mm irrigation elbows - when I got home I realised I could get ten for that price delivered within days and my pump has yet to arrive.:p

  20. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Biofilm :p

    I had to ditch 4 trays of mung beans this morning and wash the whole sprouting tower in hot soapy water...

    Though I have an ozone generator on order, I think I will use it for general disinfection and instead of trying to keep my partially circulating system clear, I will be switching to a one-way system.
    It was coughing up another £20 for hydro parts for my watercress that clinched it - I can get another plastic cistern for not much more and I will plumb-in a tee from the water supply to my existing toilet cistern - and all this stuff will be useful for years to come... and while I'm at it, I'll add an outdoor tap for my garden watering computer and run a new hose - this will also allow me to re-use my bath water.
    I will also put in a take-off for a bidet seat.

    I have also come to realise that I am over-rinsing my sprouts in any case so quite a small tank will do as a stopgap for the mid-day automatic rinse which I have now adjusted to 2 minutes...


    Cistern £22 delivered to my local Plumb Center so only a mile on the bike :)

    Last edited: Jul 9, 2017
  21. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    The soy beans I bought at the Chinese supermarket turned out to be sterile so I will shell out for "organic" ones at the deli later :p

    I'm whittling down the types of sprouts I'm prepared to give (limited) space to.
    I have only 10 slots for seeds sprouted on substrate - and pea shoots will be getting 4 of them because they're so yummy. Being hardy, I'm bound to try them outdoors in the window box that I am no longer using for hydroponics.

    And broccoli will probably get 3 because they appear to be a genuine superfood and the cooked broccoli I eat every day loses most of a critical nutrient. I'm trying them on various substrates and densities to see how I can produce the most nutrients from the fewest seeds in the least time.

    I am also trialling hemp seeds, three kinds of mustard and beetroot.

    My second water pump arrived yesterday and I collect my plastic cistern later today, so I should be able to get my gasping watercress planted in flood and drain this weekend :)

    pea shoots.jpg

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2017
  22. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Today I made a dent in my new plumbing - I used 3 metres of 15mm copper pipe and a scary number of compression fittings - but so far, so good ... the water flows from the top cistern with no sign of auto-siphoning when the pump stops - which would be a major problem with an unlimited water supply via the ball valve.

    ... except I have to get more pipe and raise the new cistern several inches because it stops me swinging out the growing troughs completely :facepalm:

    I don't even know if the bidet attachment I've ordered will be compatible with the washing machine supply tee I fitted ... so no doubt there will be tweaking to do.

  23. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I spoke too soon about the auto-syphoning - went to the bathroom this morning to find the toilet cistern overflowing - thankfully I had made good overflow provision and it was only a slow trickle because the supply cistern isn't much higher than the drippers ... so I made a small hole in the pipe from the pump - inside the supply cistern so the jet of water didn't cause any problems - it seems to have cured it :)

    I just counted and there are 20 compression joints ! :eek:
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2017
  24. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I'm not having much joy with sprouting soybeans - perhaps they're irradiated to make them store longer...

    The ones I bought from the Chinese supermarket were totally dead.
    The ones I bought from the deli are only limping into growth ... I may have soaked them too long ...

    I will try to grow them in the dark.

    To cheer myself up, I decided to order some new seeds - though mostly for growing outdoors in troughs ...

    1. claytonia - miner's lettuce
    2. buck's-horn plantain,[2] minutina or erba stella Plantago coronopus Rediscovered Salad Green: Buckshorn Plantain - Organic Gardening - MOTHER EARTH NEWS
    3. samphire - which I will need to grow separately and water with salt water.
    4. Salsola Soda - opposite-leaved saltwort - a Mediteranean equivalent of samphire - though related to spinach rather than carrots.
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2017
    tim likes this.
  25. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    In my efforts to get omega-3 precursors from vegetable sources, I add ground linseed to my weekend bread in addition to a ton of mixed seeds - though it's my suspicion that the seeds don't do much good, so I've been growing them as microgreens.

    Hemp seeds catch in your throat but work well in bread, the sprouts betrayed their fibrous nature right from the cotyledon stage - though may work in smoothies, but linseed is relatively harmless - if perhaps a bit slow growing ...
    There remains sesame and pumpkin to try ...
    Apparently sesame is in the mint family - so some sort of cousin to chia.
  26. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    Perhaps I shouldn't have googled ...

    Other sproutarian foods
  27. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

  28. nogojones

    nogojones Well-Known Member

    Well the gluts have started. I can safely say I'm now self sufficient in french beans, chard and courgettes.

    I've also been getting donations of friends spare courgettes left outside my door - Like I'm some sort of courgette disposal facility, but I am grateful for their dustbin bag full of kale.

    The four crown prince squashes I planted have now taken over half the garden and are climing over the shed and up the apple tree. I'm fighting a bit of a loosing battle to stop them overtaking my celariac :(
    gentlegreen likes this.
  29. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

  30. gentlegreen

    gentlegreen sproutarian

    I don't have room or motivation for full-on veggie growing at the moment, but even when I do, I will likely feel constrained by my nutrient obsession which places cruciferous veggies at the top of the list - though having a regular supply of broccoli sprouts and possibly getting into green smoothies for breakfast may free me up for other things.

    Broccoli is, however quite a challenge to grow well and I will be wanting to avoid buying veg on my modest pension - so I may well eat a lot of kale to eek it out.

    I rather like white cabbage, but it's less nutritious - and I also eschew green beans and cucurbits because I don't have room for them in my two person wok - I aim to produce half a pound of bean sprouts every day.

    I religiously grate a couple of carrots into my stir-fry too - on the advice of a scientist colleague - though carrot smoothies are definitely on the cards.

    This morning I started off :-

    chia - on kitchen towel because they're another gloopy seed - like flax and cress.
    daikon - white radish
    3 colour quinoa

    I'll go up the road later in search of a suitable colander and bowl to make yet another attempt at soy sprouts.

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