I’m all for growing pretty much everything from seed, or taking cuttings wherever i can but sometimes i’ll slip a cheeky cheat or two into the gardening mix. Now is actually a great time to undertake some growing adventures with leftover materials from your weekly food shop.
Of course conventional advice often dictates that this produce cannot and should not really be used, ever. The mere suggestion to some might well illicit some self-assured headshaking and a rather sharp intake of breath, but don’t listen because I’m here to tell you it can be done and it’s actually a really rather …fun thing to do.
There’s a huge amount of room for experimentation here and because there’s such a direct link with the food you buy, it’s a great way of getting children and big kids everywhere interested in a spot of grow your own.
Here are just a few of the easiest ideas for this time of year:
Some herbs can be rather fiddly to grow from seed (such as parsley) and shop-bought herb pots can be easily grown on once you have harvested some of their leaves. You’ll have to be relatively quick and rescue the plants from their painfully confided quarters. Do so by very gently dividing the root ball into several small clumps and plant them out into a spacious helping of potting compost. In return you’ll get many plants for a minimum amount of effort.
Spuds and garlic
Come spring it’s common to find a few potatoes that have started sprouting in a dark corner somewhere and which will have turned spongy and not especially edible as a result. If you have a few like this why not plant them out? Just be aware that organic produce is preferable as it’s less likely to have been sprayed with growth inhibitors (which are used to provide a maximum shelf life). Likewise with garlic, which is so easy to grow. Just select the plumpest looking cloves and tubers to plant out.
You don’t need to buy small (often expensive) packets of special sprouting seeds – just work with what you happen to have in your food cupboard. Dried chick peas, lentils, sunflower seeds, fenugreek and mung beans are among those that you can use to create delicious sprouting shoots at any time of the year. Simply soak the peas and beans overnight in water and then keep them in a spouting box or jam jar. Rinse them daily till they start to shoot. They are delicious in salad and highly nutritious.
Otherwise, have some fun experimenting
Once you’ve tried this you’ll never look at your shopping basket the same way again.
I’ve just covered some of the easiest options when in fact there is a whole world of growing on potential at your disposal. A stroll around any ethnic food shop will have your head whirling with exciting possibilities and enable you to bag yourself interesting varieties of seed or propagation material which otherwise may have been hard to obtain.
Just remember fresh is always best and you want to avoid using anything in brine, that’s been frozen or heat treated in any way. Ditto any hybrids (F1) produce. Otherwise go for the plump and ripest-looking produce and see where it takes you…