Head Gardeners' Tips

April 01 2020

APRIL 2020

Head Gardener, Jacqui Martin-Löf, brings you some brilliant grow your own ideas to keep everyone busy this April.

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For those of us lucky enough to have a garden, to either just enjoy or to work in, during these times is a sanctuary.

Since restrictions of movement were implemented the weather thankfully took a turn for the better.  The warmth of the sunshine has not only brought out the flowers but encouraged, those that are able, to enjoy precious moments in the sanctuaries of our own gardens. 

It is now officially Spring and the perfect time to get sowing. Some seed suppliers are still posting out seed packets. All the suggestions below are easy to grow and can be sown indoors on a light windowsill (not in direct sun all day). Seeds can be sown on a multiple of mediums, below are just a few ideas;

• Beansprouts (Mung Bean) – A quick and very easy sprouting seed, nutritious ‘super food’
Firstly wash the seeds to be sprouted in cold water, then soak in water for 8 hours.  Drain the water then place seeds in a jar and cover with a cloth or an old plastic pot with holes in the lid, place on a light windowsill. Thereafter, twice each day rinse well with tepid water and drain.  Ready to harvest as sprouts in 5-6 days.

• Wheatgrass – Another sprouting seed, again hailed as a ‘super food’
Place a double layer of kitchen paper in a shallow dish or tray, thoroughly wet with cold water, drain off excess water.  Sow the Wheatgrass seeds over the wet kitchen paper.  Place in a warm, light position.  Keep the kitchen paper moist (maybe with a mister) but not saturated.  Ready to harvest with a pair of scissors 5-10 days after sowing.

• Peas – For pea shoots to be used as microgreens in salads, as a tasty garnish or in stir fries
Soak your pea seeds in cold water for 8-24 hours.  Then drain off the water.  Fill a shallow seed tray (3-5cm deep) with compost.  If growing in your kitchen you could use a decorative bowl if you wish, just be careful to not allow the compost to become waterlogged. Evenly scatter pea seeds, not touching each other, in a single layer on the compost.  Cover with approximately 1.5cm of compost.  Water to dampen all the soil, but try not to let the compost become waterlogged, or the seeds will rot.  Place on a sunny windowsill and keep compost moist.  Pea shoots will germinate in approximately  3-4 days.  Continue to keep compost moist and rotate the bowl to allow even light distribution.  Harvest with a pair of scissors once the pea shoots reach 10-12cm.  If you are lucky you may get a second crop from these pea plants.  Otherwise, plant in succession with a second batch.

• Beetroot – For shoots to be used as microgreens in salads or as a tasty garnish
Beetroot seeds can be sown in the same way as peas above but there is no need to soak the seeds first.

Magic Beans’ – Runner or French Beans
This is a fun activity for anyone, perhaps as a competition ‘The tallest bean’ or just or just for fun!  You will need; a large clean jam jar or plastic bottle with the top cut off, some 6 beans, kitchen paper, water and a sunny windowsill.  Firstly using two sheets of kitchen paper fold in half then making a cylinder shape with them insert them into the jar or bottle, hugging the inner curves.  Then infill the centre of the kitchen paper cylinder with scrunched up kitchen paper.  Evenly place your six beans between the glass and the kitchen paper cylinder.  Water the centre paper so that all the paper is soaked but not flooded.  Place on a warm windowsill and watch the germination in approximately 5-7 days.  Once large enough, they can be planted outside.  Taking care to protect from frosts.

I hope you enjoy planting some of the suggestions above.  There are plenty more seeds that can also be sown either inside, to harvest now or to later be planted out, or directly sown outside. 

Stay tuned with Horatio’s Garden for more gardening tips and activities to keep you all busy. You can also find out more about the healing power of gardens and what we do in Horatio’s Garden Stoke Mandeville by catching up on BBC Gardeners’ World HERE.

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Happy growing!

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