Wednesday, November 16

Winter salad leaves and micro herbs


If you have been visiting my blog for a while you may remember that at the beginning of the year we bought an indoor light garden.

It was great for raising seedlings in and preventing them from becoming leggy and we also grew some early salad leaves under the light. Now it’s time to find out whether the grow light can earn its keep through winter.

I've decided to start off by sowing a couple of troughs with mixed lettuce leaves - four troughs came with the garden but we seem to have mislaid a couple. 

I've sown a couple of varieties one was a freebie from one of our garden magazines - it just says Mixed Lettuce Leaves on the packet from D T Brown. The other was Mixed Lettuce from Kings.
I didn't have much success over summer growing basil and coriander so I was interested when I heard that you could grow micro herbs. These are herbs used at a very immature stage. 

The herbs are picked when they have grown their first true leaves. You can pick at the seed leaf stage too which is when the very first two leaves are formed. It’s a bit like growing cress. The claim is that lots of flavour is concentrated into the tender leaves of the young seedlings. The micro herbs are supposed to be ready to harvest after 10 - 25 days. 

You can grow all sorts of herbs and vegetables in this way but to start with  I’ve decided to try coriander - Calypso and basil - Purple Ruffles. If I am successful I’ll try other things too maybe using up some of the seeds left over from this season.
I’m growing the herbs in trays that supermarkets use to sell apricots. The top of the tray acts as a sort of mini propagator. I’ve placed a sheet of kitchen paper in the bottom of the tray to cover the holes in the bottom and I've covered this with a thin layer of compost. As the herbs will be cut early they shouldn’t need much compost. The seeds were sown on the top of the compost and covered with vermiculite.

I’ll let you know if it all works out - is anyone else trying something similar?

16 comments:

  1. What a great way of being able to flavour winter meals with fresh herbs. Can't wait to see how they turn out xxx

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  2. There seems to be lots of places selling them on the Internet mostly to posh restaurants, Fran but whether it works for me is another matter.

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  3. I grow some fresh herbs, usually basil, cilantro and parsley under the lights in the basement during the winter. Sometimes I bring them upstairs when they get big and put them on the window sill in the kitchen. I think that I am going to grow some leaf lettuce inside this winter. I am having an awful time with some hungry bugs in the cold frames.

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  4. Security SystemsNovember 16, 2011

    Looks so fresh. I can almost imagine im tasting it.

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  5. I was thinking of adding parsley Robin as we use lots. Often it overwinters and I can pick it from the pot in the garden.

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  6. Yes, Microgreens are very trendy at present. I think they are not as easy to grow (well) as many would believe. Your light tray thingies may well be more successful than my windowsill-based attempts - which have always gone leggy.

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  7. If you read my blog regularly you will know that I am always experimenting with different ways of growing and Charles Dowdings book is full of ideas. Hope yours are successful.

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  8. How interesting Sue. Micro greens are all the rage at the moment. I always wondered how it could be done at home... Please do keep us posted!

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  9. I have to admit that, although I always enjoy eating the thinnings from my salad leaves, I much prefer larger leaves in a sandwich. Good luck with the experiment though, it would be wonderful to have fresh leaves all through the year. If I wasn't so consumed with decorating right now I would be trying to keep some things growing in the greenhouse over winter.

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  10. We find things go leggy on windowsills too, Mark - even on what seem to be bright window sills - I think having light coming from only one side doesn't help.

    I haven't read Charles Dowdings book Elaine but I know lots of people like it.

    I will Phoebe - even if it is all a big flop.

    We ought really to be decorating too, Janet

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  11. I have to admit to being very jealous again of your ability to grow throughout the winter....I really need to look into clearing out my kids so that i can take over a bedroom for growing!!

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  12. Be patient Tanya - it will happen before you know it!

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  13. Microleaves were featured on Beechgrove a few weeks back, intense flavour was praised highly.

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  14. Is Beechgrove still on BW? The lettucy ones had germinated within two days and I'll let them grow a bit bigger than micro - the herbs have also germinated but not ready yet.

    I'll have to do an update post soon.

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  15. Beechgrove has finished for the season (boo hoo) but the website has loads of info (including exceptionally detailed fact-sheets for all programmes)

    http://www.thebeechgrovegarden.com/

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  16. That's good BW as I thought we had missed some - we much prefer it to GW.

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