By Lyn Funnell
The temperature has suddenly dropped in Sussex. And the prices have risen in the shops. At this time of the year, salad vegetables become tasteless and expensive.
But you can reduce your costs, increase your vitamin intake and tickle your tastebuds by growing your own microgreens.
They’re very easy to grow indoors and are ready to start picking after a couple of weeks.
Do grow your own, don’t buy them ready grown as cress in supermarkets is often 80% rapeseed and almost tasteless, and lacking in much goodness.
Cress is a member of the mustard and the Cruciferae family. Cruciferous vegetables are named after the Greek cross because their flowers form a cross.
Cress seeds were found in Egyptian tombs.
The Greeks knew about the health benefits of watercress. Hippocrates founded his hospital on the island of Kos around 400 BC and he grew watercress in the natural springs to treat blood disorders.
In 1636, John Gerard the herbalist recommended watercress as a cure for scurvy.
Captain James Cook used watercress in his sailors’ diet. He sailed round the world three times.
The Germans grew watercress in the 16th century, and it was grown in England in the 1740s but it didn’t become popular until the early 1800s when a farmer started growing it as a salad ingredient. And then suddenly he had a job to keep up with the demand.
Microgreens, as they’re now called, are know as Superfoods. They have antioxidants and health-promoting nutrients and they’re full of nutrition.
All cruciferous vegetables contain beta-carotene and vitamin C. In addition to these vitamins cruciferous vegetables contain other essential nonnutritive chemicals that are important.
Apart from that, it’s also believed that watercress is good for the blood, stimulates sex lives, treats coughs, helps to fade scars and freckles, and cures diarrhoea.
My favourite sprouting pulse is the dried pea. You can buy packets in most supermarkets.
Plant them quite near each other in damp compost in a plastic container and lightly cover them.
The pea sprouts will be ready to pick within a couple of weeks. They’re crunchy and delicious.
Start a second lot after about a week so that you have a constant supply.
I’ve found a selection of sprouting seeds in a lot of Sussex nurseries. And you can of course buy them online. So do keep growing a tasty selection with different colours and flavours for the Winter.
Light or Dark? It’s up to you, wherever it’s convenient to grow them. You will get different results, depending on where they grow.
You can encourage children to grow some in half an eggshell, and paint the outside.
The main thing is to keep the compost damp.
Enjoy your indoor garden, keep healthy and brighten up your Winter meals!