Monday, March 21st, 2016
Can you feel it?
Spring is here, and the arrival of the new season is evident — it seems everyone is buzzing and totally on board with spring and the promise of a not-so-far-off summer. And while we still have a little bit more waiting to do before we can get outside in the garden, diving into an inspiring indoor project is a great way to reconnect with the green stuff after a long, cold winter.
Whether you’re celebrating Spring Equinox, Easter or simply the promise of warmer days ahead, this eggshell garden is the perfect afternoon project to get your hands just a little bit dirty. What’s more is that this project is super simple, meaning you might actually have a chance to squeeze it in between spurts of spring cleaning and family get-togethers. Here’s how.
Pick your plant friends
The options are endless here, and variety is key. Here, we used a few mini succulents and air plants, rounded out with just a couple of assorted seedlings from the greenhouse for good measure. If you’re on the ball, propagating from seed would be a great option here — think cat grass or even microgreens.
Prep the eggshells
Any eggs will do, but go for farm fresh if you can swing it — those speckled browns and blues just can’t be beat. Simply crack eggs in half or, to get the added effect of a whole egg, softly tap the crown of your egg with a spoon to remove just the upper portion of the shell. Either way, reserve the yolk and white for later use and rinse well. The eggs used here are wearing their original coat, but experimenting with natural dyes would certainly be a fun avenue to explore.
Carefully place your plant in the shell, using a spoon to add potting soil mixture as needed. If using air plants, of course no soil is required! (Note: These plant babies will eventually need to be repotted, but if you’re planning to keep them housed in the eggshells for a while yet, we’d recommend poking an additional hole in the bottom of the shell to allow for proper drainage.)
Choose your display
This wee little garden is adorable in an egg carton, but you could also get creative by arranging eggs in a nest of Spanish moss or in egg holders (imagine these at individual place settings for Easter dinner). Either way, these make a great last minute hostess gift as a unique alternative (or, if we’re being honest, addition) to a basket of chocolate eggs.
Here’s to spring!
Words + photos by Sarah Carson
Tuesday, March 1st, 2016
Great things really do come in small packages. From seeding to full harvest, microgreens are easily among our favourite things to grow!
They’re dainty, delicious, and so easy to grow.
Microgreens, called “super sprouts,” are harvested later than sprouts with the average crop time being between 10 and 14 days. Microgreens, when enjoyed fresh, contain up to five times as many vitamins as the greens that mature from them. Ideally, these should be harvested when the first leaf pair fully blossoms and turns green; but they can also be enjoyed at later stages of their maturing. They offer a mix of sweet and spicy flavours as well as a spectrum of vibrant hues and colours, which is why many fine dining restaurants choose these as their garnish.
Rich in colour, texture, flavour and nutrients, microgreens tout many advantages that make them a “must-have” ingredient in the kitchen. Having an endless supply of microgreens in the home means having unlimited fresh greens and essential vitamins and nutrients continually ready at your fingertips. To help you along, we’re ecstatic to share our six-step guide for how to grow your own home-grown microgreens to enjoy any way you like them—all year long.
1. Find your microgreens a home
First, it’s important to know where you can grow your microgreens. Hint: You can grow them just about anywhere. They can also be grown throughout any season given enough light; bright light is essential. From late spring to early autumn, feel free to shower your microgreens with natural sunlight all day long. But while indoors—and particularly during the wintertime when the days are shorter—you will need to provide a kind of supplemental light. We recommend Growlight Garden, which is one of the best systems we’ve found. It can be used to produce masses of microgreens indefinitely in a space of only two-by-three feet. With the right tools, you can take your microgreen crop to new heights in almost any environment.
2. Time it just right
Depending on the kind of microgreen you’re aiming to bring to harvest, timing can range from a few days to upwards of a few weeks. Carrot seeds, for instance, may take anywhere from two to three weeks to germinate. Cress, however, takes only a few days from sowing to harvesting. Plan accordingly!
3. Know your seeds inside and out
Depending on the type of seed, you’ll need to sow your seeds either below or atop the surface of the soil. Similarly, some may need to be sown densely while others, such as larger seeds like sunflower or Swiss chard, may need some wiggle room. Follow the planting instructions for each type of seed.
4. Make it drain!
As long as it has drainage holes in its base (makeshift or otherwise), you can grow microgreens in any shallow vessel from germination trays to recycled plastic containers to clamshell packaging. A seedling warmer will increase the speed of germination—handy for those carrot seeds we mentioned earlier—but it’s not necessary.
Once you’ve chosen your container, spread sterilized seed-starting soil 2-3 inches deep; baby seedlings’ roots don’t need a lot of room to grow. Soil should be abundantly moist, but not soggy or sitting in water. Don’t worry about overwatering. However, underwatering can cause the seed to dry out, stunting germination. Spritz regularly with a mist sprayer and consider topping your container with an inverted tray to prevent rapid evaporation while trapping moisture inside.
5. Grow baby, grow!
Watch for the first sprout. If you were using any seedling warmers or covers to help accelerate growth or trap moisture, remove them once the first sprout is visible. Ensure these greens are receiving enough full-spectrum light to grow and stay short and stout—ideally from a T5 fluorescent tube or other grow light; insufficient light will make these grow long and spindly.
6. Reap what you sow
By now, your microgreens are ready for harvest. They can be pulled from the soil, gently washed until the soil particles have all been removed, and enjoyed à la root or snipped and trimmed with scissors for a delicious—and beautiful—home-grown salad.