Category Archives: sprouting

new camera

ma got a very nice camera – the kind professionals would have.  and seeing as she is a professional and needs to take photos of her work this make sense, and she is kind enough to let me use her camera as well.  the problem with really high quality cameras is that anyone who has their hands on them thinks that they are suddenly a gifted photographer.  which means now you are going to have to endure me pretending to be a gifted photographer in addition to the usual pretending to be a gifted writer.  below a series of photos taken yesterday at works – consider it a visual update.


assuming the squirrels don’t get these pears, it will be the first fruit i harvest off of a pear tree i helped plant.

onion sprouts

onions that we planted a couple of weeks ago just poking out of the surface.  these will not be harvested until next year.  you can learn more about over wintering onions here.

oats and vetch cover crop

oats and hairy vetch, planted a couple of weeks ago sprouting up.  planted for cover crop in a lot which has very low fertility.

box elder beetles

box elder beetles sunning themselves in the autumn light.


lettuce plants – seeded very close – rather than harvest as baby salad greens and cutting their tops, we are thinning it and have harvested baby romaine heads and will continue to do so over the next couple of weeks, leaving some to mature as full size heads.

asian greens

is it politically correct to call these asian greens?  i had a group of japanese students by the other day and  i was joking with them about the way seed catalogs advertise varieties as being japanese – when i’m guessing the japanese don’t even eat them.  they just market them that way.  this is a combo of muzuna, tat soi, purple mustard, arugula, and red russian kale.  great for stir frying, or in kimchi.


the sunchokes aka jerusalem artichokes are fully in bloom.  most of mine got weedwhacked this year but a few of them managed to survive and i get to enjoy these few blooms

garlic sprouts

garlic sprouts continue to come up – more this week than last, we might actually have something when we go to plant garlic in a few more weeks.

the almost empty greenhouse

the green house sits mostly empty – free of any action aside from the garlic sprouts.  it’s a little hard for me to say goodbye to the greenhouse for the next few months, but i’m glad to be free of watering soon.

a rose

i leave you with this fall rose.


favas pop it like it’s hot

i’m not sure when i started using the term popping for sprouting, but it’s what i call it, and it’s stuck around the lil house.  ma calls it popping, and i’m sure others have picked up on it from my constant use of the phase in the greenhouse.  and since snoop had that song drop it like it’s hot, i tend to ask if things have popped it like it’s hot, when i want to know if they have germinated.

those favas we planted a couple of weeks ago are finally popping and they look great.  i’m really starting to come to love the quick hoops, just thinking of what the possibilities could be.

the favas sprouting under the quick hoops

close up

how about prepping all the beds in the fall and covering them in quick hoops and planting them as soon as we start getting some sun in february, or could you even plant them in the fall and seeds would just sit there until it was warm enough for them to sprout?  lots of questions, i look forward to experimenting and finding out.

one of the biggest problems i’ve had with favas is right about the time they are ready to harvest they seem to get attacked by aphids, and i’m hoping that i can beat the aphids by using the quick hoops.  we shall see.

mache seeding

i’ve written about mache before, and i’m a big fan of it.  i’ve not often seen it for sale here – even in the farmers market, though in europe i’ve seen it at all the farmers markets.  it grows really well in cold weather and it is the earliest crops i plant.  i’m not really sure why it’s not more popular, it grow like a weed (which it is) and tastes great in a salad.

this past sunday we had a little bit of a warm streak, and it seemed like the perfect weather for sowing some early mache in our cold frame.  ma and i both had a great time getting a little dirty.  thanks to ma for taking photos and having a good time with me.

the beat up old cold frame

this cold frame has never really worked well for us – it was just too small, but it’s something i can play with until we build a new one.  one nice thing about this cold frame is that it’s small enough that we can just pick it up and move it, prep the soil under it, and drop it back down on top.

loosening the soil

first step was to take the cold frame up and loosen the soil using a spading fork and remove the roots from old lettuce plants.

loosening the soil with the claw tool

next step is to break up the clods with the claw tool.

raking the seed bed smooth

next step is to rake the bed nice and smooth.  this is much more important when you are using a seeder such as the 6 row seeder that we use at work, than just doing by hand, but it is nice to have it smooth so water is constant.

seeding the mache

without a hand seeder, i usually just make a very hard crease on the seed packet to make the seeds have to line up single file.  also i don’t know if you can tell in this photo but rather than tap the packet i actually tap the back of my thumb with my other hand.  that’s why my other hand is blurry.  when it’s cold like this i tend to seed a little heavy to take into account low germination.  this is small seed, so i seed them in a very shallow furrow.

tamping soil with the back of the claw

i use the back of the claw tool to tamp the soil down.  you want it pretty firm so that you have good soil contact with seeds.  but you don’t want them to be too deep.

watering the seeds

watering this time of year can be kind of tricky, if it’s gonna be really cold it means that the seeds could freeze if it gets cold, but i decided that they needed moisture and so i went ahead and watered them.  watering does of course help the seeds break dormancy, but it also helps pack the soil around the seeds.

putting the row cover on top

then we put the cold frame back on, made sure that there were no gaps between the cold frame and the soil and added the row cover and closed the cold frame and called it good.  i checked on it a week later and no sprouting yet.  but soon.

making rejuvelac

now that the growing season is done with i can go back to taking yoga classes at the zen center in hamtramck.  yoga like so many things in life is a matter of personal taste, but the saturday classes at the zen center are by far my favorite i’ve ever been to.

in addition to the yoga classes and meditation times and many other things, the zen center also has a natural food cafe and store in the basement.  ma and i wanted to pick up a couple of odds and ends, and so we stopped in and decided to stay for lunch.  lunch was delicious, but the thing that really inspired me was the rejuvelac on the menu.

i’d meant to make rejuvelac for years, but had never gotten around to it, and this was my chance to try it.  it was little bubbly and fresh.  i enjoyed it and got the ingredients for making it and put together a batch as soon as i got home.  below are instruction for making it.  for those who are into sprouting this is all going to look very familiar.

step 1. soak the grain

soaking wheat berries

you can use just about any whole grain and sprout it, though i’d stay away from quinoa unless very well rinsed, or it will be bitter.  rye, barley, oats, kamut, millet, rice all should work me thinks, but i was recommended wheat by the nice people at the zen center.  once again i have to give credit to sandor katz and his book wild fermentation for providing the recipe for the rejuvelac.  his recipe call for 4 cups of grain in a 1 gallon jar, i only have a 2 quart jar, so i only used 2 cups.  cover them with plenty of water and let them soak for 24 hours.

step 2 sprout the grains

putting the window screen over the jar

after soaking cover the mouth with a piece of screen or cheese cloth then use a rubber band to secure the screen in place.  then pour off the water the grain was soaking in, and replace with a couple of changes of fresh water to rinse them well.

sprouts draining

drain off excess water, invert the jar and put it over something like a bowl so that the sprout stay out of contact with the liquid draining off.  if they sit in the water they will rot and not sprout.  this is not what you want.

the next day rinse the sprouts well with fresh cold water leaving the screen on, pouring off the water and drain it over the bowl again and leave it to sprout for another day.

2 day old sprouts

after 2 days the sprouts are finished sprouting enough for the next step.  you should be able to see the little roots starting to pop out.

step 3 – fermenting.

finished rejuvelac

rinse them again, drain off the water, and then cover to the top of the jar with fresh cold water.  leave the screen on and sit it out at room temperature.  after 2 days it’s finished.  it should look a bit cloudy, and bubbly.

detail of finished rejuvelac

drain the finished rejuvelac off the sprouts and put it in the fridge, top off the sprouts with more fresh cold water.  let this ferment for just one day this time and you have another batch of rejuvelac.  after the second fermenting time they are pretty much done, though some folks choose to make a third batch.

now the sprouts are pretty much only good for compost – or in my case, chicken feed.

step 4 enjoy

it’s refreshing slightly sour and mild, and full of be vitamins and of course everyone’s favorite these days, it’s probiotic.