My latest obsession is growing sprouts, shoots, and microgreens. I happened to be in the health food store one day and noticed a box of broccoli sprouts. They did not look like the same sprouts I was buying in the grocery store. These had a lot more little green leaves on top and tasted great. This caught my attention. So, after some research, I was compelled to buy Peter Burke’s book Year Round Indoor Salad Gardening, following his technique to the letter with great success.
A whole new world opened up to me. I’ve learned about so many varieties of plants that can be grown into shoots and soil sprouted greens which have become my favorites. Right now I am growing buckwheat, arugula, and red Russian kale soil sprouts and broccoli sprouts which are a staple in my home due to their powerful health benefits.
There is a lot of confusion about the terminology of different immature greens, which I’m still trying to wrap my head around. Soil-sprouts and microgreens, I am learning, are not the same thing and the author makes a distinction between all the greens. “Sprouts, bean sprouts, shoots, microgreens, baby greens, and soil sprouts are all immature greens. Each one is distinct in how it is grown and at what stage of growth it is harvested.” It’s an education in progress.
It’s not often I recommend a self- help or do-it-yourself book. But this one is a gem. Peter Burke, the author, lives in Vermont and has been a long time gardener and teacher of his gardening technique. His method for “soil- sprouts” as he refers to all his sprouted seeds is easy and doesn’t require a lot of equipment like grow lights, pumps, or greenhouses that are necessary for microgreens. Just a dark cupboard and a windowsill. He offers pros and cons for growing sprouts in jars and in soil and I agree that the final product is much better in soil. The texture and taste are very different. Plus, when you grow in soil, you can cut what you need and store the rest in the tray until next use. Growing soil-sprouts produces longer stems and green lush leaves that make a delicious healthy green salad, and great addition to soups, sandwiches, or anything you want to add greens to.
The book is laid out nicely with lists of tools and accessories you will need, great pictures, and step-by step instructions from start-to- finish with a recipe for creating your own soil mix. He mentions a wide variety of plant seeds, pros and cons of the different growing techniques, and troubleshooting solutions. I don’t think there is anything he doesn’t cover in his book. As he says,”you can’t mess this up.”
If you like to garden, no matter how small, you will love this book. There is nothing more satisfying and fun than planting a seed and watching it grow into something healthy and nutritious, especially during the winter months when you want to see some green life growing on a cold grey day.