We haven’t had much of a winter up here in Alaska. In fact, we have been steadily warmer and more pleasant winters here in Anchorage than most of the country for the past 2 seasons. This leaves me in a weird mood re: this season’s garden. I know I should have had things starting weeks ago but since it never really felt like winter, it doesn’t really feel like it’s time to grow stuff. But after requesting some tough love from my Facebook friends, I finally got my ass in gear and started the tomatoes, peppers and some other goodies that require a bit more time.
The seed trays will hang out on my kitchen counter with heating pads and attention until they start to sprout, when they will be moved to my storefront windows which get a ton of light and great heat from the sun. Some of these plants will even spend the entire summer there – increasing our yield even more.
I went a little crazy ordering new things this year as our neighbors took down a crop of trees last year, vastly increasing our available light and growing space. I checked out Rare Seeds and promptly threw all of my money at them. Heirloom seeds and fabulously cool veggies to choose from. I can’t wait to see what we end up with.
Loving all the green in our little urban garden!
After polling the customers in my shop and realizing they were super interested in jarred herbs and things year round (not just at the Farmers Market) I have started an extra grow project in our greenhouse (read: spare bedroom). Recycled jars that I’ve been hoarding forever (because some day I will need them!) have been filled with a layer of river pebbles (for drainage) and dirt, and topped with all sorts of herb seeds…from basil, to oregano, rosemary and cilantro, I’m ready to grow some delicious countertop greens for folks.
And then there were the tin cans….I couldn’t let them go to waste without a purpose, so those are holding a mix of greens made especially for cats. It encourages them to chew and gives them vital things they need (that’s what the package said so I’m sticking to it). Another layer of river rocks for drainage, some dirt, and seeds and viola! Cat grass! I’ve been wracking my brain for a cool label (because no one wants my actual white bean/corn/black bean cans) and poked through the fabric stash to come up with a quick no fuss cover. Measure, cut, hold glue. Done.
Our garden makes me giddy. There, I said it. I love poking around the pots in the morning and at night and seeing what has happened through the day (it’s a little like watching paint dry but more fun!!). We’ve got lots of things working to push their fruit out, and today I harvested the first cucumber! The variety I purchased is meant to be pickle size, so I picked it today and can’t wait to give it a munch tonight.
I have 4 squash plants as well as 4 peppers (and a lone cucumber) outside at my storefront where they bask in some serious direct sun at the end of every day. I have been getting loads of compliments about how awesome and healthy they look (I clap and giggle of course) but overheard the best compliment yesterday. A man stopped to tell his friends how impressed he was that someone was clever enough to plant flowers under greenery – “It creates such a lovely play on space!” Now, think about it….get it? They were squash blossoms. I love it. I’m still laughing about it, and taking the compliment on my revolutionary gardening techniques all the way to the bank.
I don’t know what it is about sprouts that make me all giddy and weak in the knees, but I love them. I can’t get enough. You think I like pho for the just carbs and broth? The Mongolian BBQ bowls where you ‘make your own’ consists of sprouts with a hint of noodle and chicken for color. One of my favorite lunch time eats is a turkey sandwich. Boring, right? Not when you throw a handful of sprouts and chopped red onion on there. [insert drool here]
One of the coolest thing about these little guys is that you can grow them yourself for a fraction of the cost and you know exactly how fresh they are. I picked up a sprouting jar – which is pretty low tech on the scale of what you can get if you’re uber serious about this (think buckets) – for around $7 at the local crunchy health food store. If that’s too much for your pocket book, they also sell mesh screw on tops for Mason jars you might already have for about a buck. Choose your weapon (read: seed of choice), soak a teaspoon or so in water for 12 hours or overnight, drain, and rinse twice daily in cold water until your little sprouts are ready to eat. I sprout alfalfa seeds the most often and are what is pictured. I’ve also done mung beans for homemade pho and broccoli and lentils. All are great even just to snack on.
So now you can sprout your own eats right on your counter-top year round. It’s always perfect weather and you don’t have to play in the dirt. Go do it. You know you want to.