Although there has been lots of salad planted in the garden on recent weekends, including mustard greens, rocket and mizuna (at least I’ll be able to distinguish between the plants after cramming in Ballymaloe for the salad leaves and herbs exams!), it’s going to be a while before any of the leaves are big enough to eat. Then, of course, because our planting in succession routine is not entirely developed – despite best intentions – we’ll have another glut to work through. But that’s all ahead of us and, until then, I’ve been growing my own salad on the windowsill.
I bought a small, three-level seed sprouter last summer but it was much too warm in our Dublin flat so my first attempts weren’t very successful. Now, on a bright windowsill in my unheated cottage, it’s really coming into its own. It’s on the window behind the sink which makes it easier to remember to rinse the sprouts twice a day – it’s not so good when you forget although the smell will help you remember.
I started off using the seeds that I bought at the same time as the sprouter – broccoli (a bit weedy), fenugreek (spicy addition to salads), mustard (peppery, really good in sandwiches) and red clover, which is all a bit anonymous. Getting more adventurous, I recently moved on to the contents of the store cupboard. Mung beans – the bean sprouts we all know – have been a success, especially in their crunchy and juicy early stages but the quinoa never really grew properly and the wheatberries were much too much like grass to be palatable. I suppose that’s why wheatgrass is normally used for producing juice. My absolute favourite – so far – are the sprouted lentils. I’ve been switching between the simple brown and crunchier Puy lentils, both which are great mixed with the stronger-flavoured mustard and fenugreek sprouts in salads and stuffed into sandwiches, pitta breads and wraps. With this tiny garden, I’m much better with successive planting – hopefully we can make it work better outdoors this year!
If you’re interested in reading more, there’s some very useful information about sprouting in the recent Guardian Grow-Your-Own Guide and the ever-useful Nigel Slater gives a few ideas about how to use them here.