Growing During The Winter Months (Part 1)

Well, it’s been a ridiculously cold and long winter and I (as well, I’m sure, as all of you) couldn’t be happier to welcome in Spring with open arms. Sometime winter takes so long that I forget what it’s like to bask in the warmth of the sun and once the first warm day hits I have a familiar realization that the lack of overall energy I’ve had was simply due to the dreadful weather. This is the time of year when we all come back to life and its hard not to appreciate the cold, miserable weather for giving us all the firm appreciation we have, once again for the sun and its warmth. This is also my favorite time of year because it means that I can, once again get out into my garden and start digging around.

Mung Bean seeds on the left and Alfalfa seeds on the right. As you can see, the directions for sprouting are on the back of the seed package.

Mung Bean seeds on the left and Alfalfa seeds on the right. As you can see, the directions for sprouting are on the back of the seed package.

But for those of you out there like me, a 5-6 month winter is just too long to wait to enjoy fresh, home-grown veggies. This year I’ve been teaching myself a few new tricks to get me through the winter months and I’d like to share one of them with you today. Not every edible plant requires a lot of space or even soil for adequate growth. Some plants can grow easily under simple florescent lights or even in dark places in your home during the cold winter months.

The first thing I experimented with this winter were Alfalfa and Mung Bean sprouts. Sprouts can be grown easily in your kitchen without any soil and in just a few days. The first thing you need to do is order your seeds. This is as easy as getting online and visiting some of the great seed saving companies that work very hard at preserving heirloom variety seed. For those who are unfamiliar, an heirloom variety is a plant that has not been altered from its original state. Many seeds these days are altered to have genetic traits that are seen as ‘beneficial’ by some, such as pest resistance and drought tolerance. I won’t go into this right now, because it will take me completely off-topic but perhaps in a later post. The seed companies I recommend buying from are Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, High Mowing, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange and Johnny’s (although Johnny’s does carry a large number of hybrid seeds so read carefully.)

Alfalfa sprouts after about 5 days.

Alfalfa sprouts after about 5 days.

Once your seeds arrive, you’ll need something to sprout them in. I use a simple mason jar. Depending on the size of the jar, place a handful of seeds into the bottom and fill the jar about halfway full of lukewarm water and allow the seeds to soak overnight. The next morning, drain the water from the jar and cover the top with a breathable cloth so that the seeds can get some oxygen. Set the jar on its side in a dark area (I set them in my cupboard). Repeat the rinsing process 2-3 times daily but always drain them and let them sit. If you allow them to sit in water without draining the seeds wont get enough oxygen and will eventually rot.

That’s pretty much it. In about 5-7 days, your sprouts will be ready to eat! Alfalfa sprouts are rich in calcium as well as vitamins K & C. Mung Bean Sprouts are full if fiber as well as vitamins B, C & K. These healthy little additions to your favorite meals can be grown in the comfort of your home in no time with very little effort and can help turn those gloomy Winter days into something that resembles Spring.

Our original site off of Madison Street in downtown Frederick, MD

Our original site off of Madison Street in downtown Frederick, MD


This blog entry was also published here.