Lack of access to a garden or poor weather, should not stop you from being able to grow and harvest fresh greens to add to soups, salads, sandwiches, and smoothies! Growing microgreens on your kitchen windowsill is quick, easy, rewarding, and so good for you nutritionally! It is also a really easy activity to do with children to help them learn about growing food.
Microgreens are the seedlings of veg or herbs which are packed full of more nutrients than their fully grown counterparts. In fact the US Department of Agriculture and the University of Maryland have affirmed that microgreens contain 4 to 40 times more nutritional benefit than fully grown veg which in itself is a fabulous reason to give windowsill growing a go.
Microgreens are hard to buy in supermarkets as they grow so quickly and can be so small that there is no profit in supermarkets selling them fresh. They are in effect baby plants which are harvested at a week or two old so it makes great economical sense to grow them on your own windowsill which also cuts right down on your food miles.
Pea shoots are a source of vitamins A, C, K and folate and as they germinate in around 5 days, it is easy to keep sowing them to ensure you have a continuous, healthy supply to see you through this period of self-isolation.
Here’s how to do it:
Fill any small pot which fits on your windowsill, around two thirds full with compost. Any regular multi-purpose compost is fine. If you have not got a small pot, wash out a yoghurt or cream pot, and pierce a few holes at the bottom for drainage.
Any regular packet of pea seeds is fine. This is a great way to use up any seeds from last year which you did not get around to using. Peas can be sown thickly, just push them down a little so they make good contact with the soil – as they are not growing to full size, they will grow on in crowded conditions.
If you can sprinkle a little more compost on top that is great, if not, push the pea seeds down a little further and bring some compost over the top of them.
Label the pot, give it a water and pop on your windowsill.
Try to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. A light daily water or mist would be good.
Peas shoots can be harvested at 2 to 3 inches in height when a second set of leaves is apparent. To harvest, simply chop the leaves and stalks from the shoots and then chop them into your food. The shoots will yield more leaves so you’ll get another few harvests.
Pea shoots will store in a plastic bag in the fridge for up to 5 days but it is much better to chop and use them fresh to preserve their nutritional goodness.
A packet of 200 peas seeds will cost around £2 so with 10 seeds sown per pot, you could have 20 weeks of organic microgreen goodness growing on your kitchen windowsill to enjoy.
Aside from the nutritional benefits, the joy of seeing seedlings germinate and emerge is a wonderful moment of joy which boasts your mental well-being during the dark days of winter. Learning to grow something new which you can eat is immensely gratifying.
So for little money, little skill, little time but fresh, organic, sustainable goodness emerging from your kitchen, why not try to grow some pea shoots on your windowsill?