What is Taste of the Past?

Taste of the Past is where I share my love of traditional cookery. Recipes from the days before TV dinners and microwaves right down the ages to the earliest cook books that I can get my hands on. I hope you enjoy my experiments as much as I do. Please share your own ideas, efforts and feedback in the comments.

Saturday 19 November 2016

Grow your own salad

I love my gardening, really love it but I have to admit that while I spend a long time pottering about in the mud it has taken me a long time to start to get results.

The problems with the gardening industry at the moment are:  it is expensive, it isn't particularly green and they make it sound way easier than it is.

You see the wonderful boards in parks, show gardens and on the television but no one ever tells you how much they are going to cost.  All the advise casually given to plant x, y and z in combination to give you an amazing summer display fails to add that planting up a single hanging basket could cost you £30 and doing a whole, shrub filled boarder is going to come in in the hundreds of pounds.

The gardening industry uses vast amounts of plastic that is difficult to recycle.  They claim that they cannot wash plastic pots and use them again because the potting machines can't handle them.  They still dig up huge amounts of peat, use heated greenhouses (to get plants much bigger than you would at home, just so you can leave them sitting around not growing while you wait for the soil to be warm enough to plant the things outside) and generally use lots and lots of water.  
The environmental aspect of the gardening industry is one the last elephants in the room and organic gardeners are trying hard to change.
And cost, anyone who has had a trip to a garden centre knows how expensive they are.  Try and find a nursery, they are generally cheaper.
Or better still for all of the above, have a go at home!


But this year, after lots of less than impressive results over the years I might have managed it.

I have grown pea shoots, rocket and beetroot mini salad.


Take a pot, any shape will do as long as it is more than an inch deep.  The deeper the pot the better chance you have of getting the leaves to sprout again.

Plant up a small pot with some potting compost (also expensive but making your own needs a lot of gardening expertise I haven't got yet).
Water it gently.
Sprinkle on some seeds.
Cover with a tiny amount more soil.
Leave to grow.  (the packet will tell you how long germination should take but remember this is under ideal conditions.  I have learnt to be a bit more patient, especially in cold weather.)
Pop it on a windowsill.

Cut and eat when they about 4 inches tall.  If you leave some leaf on the shoots then they may grown again, two or three times.


You really don't need to water too much, just damp is fine but how much and how often will depend on your house.  Remember most seeds don't like growing in mud.

Seeds to Try

 Peas!  Buy a pack of whole dried peas from the supermarket.
Plant up,
They are much cheaper than buying packets of seeds.  I used TESCO own brand for the ones shown above.

Beetroot - any old cheap seeds will do, I like Wilkinson ones as they are super cheap.
Beetroot flavour depends on the varity a great deal so for growing the actual roots it is worth spending a bit more and getting seeds that your family enjoy (mine like Detroit) but for the leaves it really doesn't matter.

The green leaves below are rocket.  They are going a bit straggly so I will have to see how well this works.

All three lots of seeds were planted on the same day.  So you can see how fast the peas grow.

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