08
Mar
19

Vegetable garden close to home

I have restarted my blog after a long hiatus. Lots of new developments – I am leasing a site just about 50 meters from my house. It is rather large for one person to work on. I have 11 square-foot (SF) plots within the site. I have also re-designed my home garden. Here’s an overall view of my vegetable garden  as of today with some winter vegetables.

 VegFieldAsOnMarch9_2019

Overall view of my vegetable garden

Broccoli, mizuna, autumn onions will be harvested soon, opening up the respective plots for planting spring vegetables.

Likely to harvest broad beans, winter turnip, and winter onions around April/May.

 

Now growing in my home garden

Jinchoge01 Jinchoge-02

Daphne Odora, sweet scented flowers at two locations

I planted these at various locations in my garden and I’m glad I did so. The flowers bloom around February end/March beginning and give off a sweet scent.

 

StrawberryTurnipHomeGarden

Turnips and strawberries

Planted these before the onset of winter. Strawberries on the right side and turnips on the left side in my home garden plot. Small white flowers of the strawberry plants are visible. These flowers will turn into fruit hopefully.

 

Germinating seeds indoors

First, let’s get started with how to sow and germinate seeds indoors. While the weather outside is too cold to sow seeds directly into the ground, I decided to start the gardening season early this year and try to germinate seeds indoors. Early March (minimum about 5 degrees C, maximum about 12 degrees C) is still not the right time to plant seeds directly in the ground here in my area of Japan. So I have decided to grow seeds I already have at home under lights. The results are encouraging.

 

SeedsPlantingKit

Simple indoor seed-planting kit

 

This is what I started out with: Paper towel (called “kitchen paper in Japan)  roll, a zip-lock clear bag, seeds, a ball pen and a water sprayer. See the photo above.

Method:

  • Spread a paper towel on a table and write the name of the seed and the date on one corner such that when you fold and roll the paper after placing the seeds the writing appears at the top.
  • Spray clean water uniformly on the sheet so that it becomes moist but not dripping wet.
  • Place ten seeds on the upper half of the paper at uniform spacing.
  • Fold the other half and roll the paper so that the name you write appears on the top.
  • After making rolls for all the seeds that you wish to germinate, insert the rolls in a zip-lock bag but leave it open for air to enter.
  • If the seeds are light-sensitive and will germinate only in the presence of light, place the entire bag below an indoor light (I use a study lamp with fluoroscent tube).
  • Open the bag every day and spray water on the rolls if they have dried out.
  • Check after 3-4 days to see  if any  seeds have germinated. You’ll usually find roots going through the paper from the seed.
  • Carefully open the roll and use pincers to gently pull the seed with root and transfer it to tray with potting soil.

The photo below shows rolls labeled and moistened ready to be transferred to the zip-lock bag.

(Of course, you need to know what seeds germinate better with light and what seeds you could keep in the dark and wait for them to germinate. Lettuce, carrot, kale, komatsuna, are light sensitive, so I place them under an indoor light).

PhotoDormantSeedsinMoistPaper

Photo-sensitive seeds in labelled, moistened paper towel rolls

I also planted another set of seeds that germinate in the dark. Similar to the above, I made moistened rolls with the following seeds: tomato (ruby and beefsteak), cucumber, bell pepper, spinach, corn, and phlox seeds.

After about four days, several varieties of vegetables germinated. These included cucumer, radish, corn and lettuce (one variety). Lettuce roots were very thin and delicate (see extreme right). I used pincers to gently place them in soil without pressing the germinated plants into the soil. I presumed that if the roots go deep into the soil seeking nutrients, the upper part of the plant with leaves will automatically stand erect and look for light. Let us see what happens tomorrow! The photo below shows the germinated seeds transferred to tray containing soil.

 

GerminatedCucumberSeeds GerminatedCornSeeds

Left: Germinated cucumber                  Right: Germinated corn

image

Germinated lettuce seeds. See the thin, fine roots

I placed the tray under an indoor light at night. I move them to the window during day time if there is sunshine. I guess natural light is always good for plants to grow healthy.

 

SeedsInTrayPots

Transfer of germinated seeds to seed tray with soil

image

Same view of germinated seeds – the next day

As I presumed, the small plants perked up the next day, thanks to the frequent spraying of water, the light on them and the warm environment indoors. Even the delicate lettuce stalks (two extreme right rows) are standing upright on their own.

I am keeping my fingers crossed for other varieties.  I don’t expect all the seeds to germinate because some of the seeds are two to three years old. If the indoor germination works, I can directly sow the seeds into the ground when it gets warmer outside.

 

Sprouts

The next part of this blog is how to grow sprouts. I have grown broccoli sprouts successfully and consume them almost daily.

The items required to grow sprouts and the process are very simple.

See photo below showing all that you need .

SproutKit

Items for growing sprouts

All you need are a paper towel, a container (either one for sprouts or a plastic box with lid on which you can make some holes for air), a water sprayer and seeds. I have shown three varieties of seeds in the photo above – broccoli, alfalfa and radish, which are specially meant for growing sprouts.

 

Method:

  • Fold the paper towel to sit snugly on the base of the container without bumps

PaperInContainer

  • Spray a thin layer of water on the paper towel uniformly
  • Sprinkle the seeds uniformly so as to cover the paper (I found it preferable to not pack them too densely)
  • Cover the container with the lid.
  • Place the container in a bag with jip or a cardboard box with cover to provide a dark environment.
  • Every morning, open the container and spray some water.
  • On the second or third day you should see the seeds germinating.
  • Keep sprinkling water every day until they grow to almost eatable size.
  • Expose them to sunlight for a while (window sill or the like) and consume the sprouts immediately.

 

Sprouts&SeedsUnderLight

Photo-sensitve seeds in moist paper rolls and sprouts under light

 

BroccoliSproutsReadytoEat

Broccoli sprouts ready to eat

I encourage readers to try growing sprouts and germinating seeds by the method given above. If you have a better method, do post here. I would love to hear from you.

Sprouts in general, are nutiritionally very rich.

“Broccoli sprouts have been shown to contain up to 50 times more cancer-fighting benefits (from sulforaphane) than broccoli alone. Fiber, vitamin C, and calcium are just a few of its nutritional stars. These sprouts are great in helping to prevent stomach bugs and respiratory issues such as asthma.” (The above excerpt is from the website:  https://www.nutriliving.com/foods/broccoli-sprouts)

 

Nothing like growing your own organic food! Until the next time, happy gardening!

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