Thursday, April 17, 2008

Keeping it Greens

Michael Pollan put it best but I don't  remember exactly what it was he said. Something like " eat vegetables, not too much, mostly greens." Close enough for this post. I try to follow that dictum (except the part about not too much which is why I'm 20 pounds overweight but thats a topic for another blog.) I want be growing and eating fresh greens 365 days a year. This time of year is sort of the 'tween time when the overwintered collards and kale have started to make seeds ( or been turned into kraut) and the new crop is just starting to sprout from the soil. To bridge the gap I grow what is called by the top chefs i watch on TV microgreens. They use them mostly as decorations (garnish they call it). I eat big bunches of them... in beans, on sandwiches, in soup, everywhere i can find a reason or no reason at all.
Here's how i grow them. I line the bottom of an empty flat with landscape fabric or cardboard or newspaper, anything to keep the soil from falling out the bottom. I fill the flat almost to the top with potting soil to which i have added 25% compost and some organic fertilizer. Then i sprinkle the seeds as evenly as possible over the soil. About 2 tablespoons is enough. I use the All Greens mix from Johnny's Seeds which is a mixture of various kales and asian greens. Being a southerner i add some collard seeds too. Yum, collards. then i cover the seeds with about 1/4" of soil mix and water it thoroughly. I put it in our unheated greenhouse but you can put them outside or on a porch or inside until they sprout. Keep the soil moist until the seeds sprout. Looking at my meticulous (?) records, i see that i planted them on  March 12 and the seeds germinated in 4 days, right on schedule. We started harvesting on April 10th so it took about a month to get fresh greens. I started some more yesterday. Since it has gotten warmer they will be ready to eat sooner. These are "cut and come again" like mesclun meaning that you cut the tops off with sizzors leaving the central bud and they will grow back in about a week. It takes about 1/3 of a flat to make enough greens to satisfy me for a meal. Being young and tender they need very little cooking time. I throw them into whatever i'm cooking for no more than 5 minutes. That way they are still crisp and full of those nutrients i so carefully provided them in the compost and fertilizer. If you live in a loft or apartment you can do this in a wide pot or bowl. The bowl in the photo above is made from bamboo husks and is biodegradable. It will last 5-6 years.
Tonight we're having cranberry beans and kefir cornbread. Yep i'll be tossing a handful of microgreens into my beans. Yummy!

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