geekery, drawing and then some
I've grown a few bean-plants on my balcony (more than a few actually) and have looked for the best way to get them to germinate. In the beginning I tried sticking them in the ground and just keeping the ground wet, and though that did work for some beans, it also failed plenty of times.
Lots of times my beans got eaten by the larvae of the bean-fly (oh how I hate them!). I went looking for a better way and found something that works very well. This will probably work for other seeds too, and will give you a good idea about the germination rate of your seeds (if you have old seeds you sometimes want to check). I've had no problem transplanting the resulting sprouts, just keep in mind you will have to transplant them at some point. Not all sprouts like that.
Kids will usually love this too. Use beans though, they sprout fast :)
You will need: - a ziploc bag (or another type of firm plastic bag) - some toiletpaper or paper towels - something to spray water with - beans! Take the toiletpaper and put down several layers. Place a few beans on the paper. Spray thoroughly with water until the paper becomes moist with water, but does not drip.
Fold the paper, with the beans in the fold. It helps to not line up the edges so you can check later on. Keep the bag open (very important) and place it in a dark warm place. Most people prefer the top of their fridge, I used a kitchen-cabinet with pipes behind it.
After the first day you may or may not see little roots coming from the bean. Check daily if you prefer, or every other day, to make sure the paper stays moist and to check for beans that rot (it sometimes happens, especially with older beans, they smell bad so it's best to remove the asap).
You'll see here that not all beans sprouted. Two of them rotted (I felt very sad), but the others shot up! The ones on the right I deemed plant-worthy and planted them outside. I took the risk with the two on the left as well, but left the other two (barely rooting) in the bag for a while. If the roots have gone through the paper, don't worry! Just rip the paper and plant it with the bean-sprout. It'll dissolve quickly enough.
Some beans take longer than others, perfectly normal. However, if after a week to ten days you see no action at all, and the beans have gone mushy, they failed. They'll smell bad too.
[gallery columns="5"]Today I installed the last bits of my balcony. I got some more small green pots and planted rosemary, a bay tree (more like a bush), two new types of oregano (makes three in total) and I planted the beans and peas. Also planted the courgettes, and put the rest in pots to give away. My left lower box hasn't got anything in it yet, and I plan to sow some lettuce, spring onion and beetroot in it. The lower right one has lamb's lettuce and scallions. I have some basil seeds left (and mint, coriander, parsley and then some) which I plan to sow by the tomatoes, I hear that works out well. This morning I harvested my first mini-cucumber and ate it on a cheese-sandwich, tasted excellent. Looking forward to more of that :D
Over the weekend I planted some seeds for plants I eventually want to plant outside on my balcony. I started out with courgette (zucchini), sage, thyme, rosemary, Tropaeolum, mustard and several types of beans.
Some have already started germination, even the tiny thymeseeds start to look green. Others, not so much yet. Patience....
To 'celebrate' we went out and got some stuff for my balcony: pots / containers / soil), and seeds and plants.
I got four long wooden containers (they look great!) and the following plants:
- 4 tiny celery plants
- 4 tiny parsleys
- 4 tiny corn salads
- 1 big cucumber plant (with baby cucumbers)
- 1 small sweet pepper plant
- 1 bonsai basil (very nice!)
- 1 small lovage
and seeds for: spring onions rosemary garlic chives corn salad * courgette (or zucchini or summersquash depending on where you live)
Through a friend I got three tomato-plants, seeds for beetroot, basil, parsley, peas and several types of beans. I'm still looking for pinto-bean seeds, but they seem somewhat unavailable in the NL. I also still have rocket-seed, Tropaeolum and tons of seeds for sprouts (alfalfa, garden cress, etc).
I think I have enough.... (though boyfriend promised me oregano and thyme plants / seeds)
I want a bunch of smaller pots to put herbs in. It'll look nice and helps to sow in phases.
I'm looking forward to seeding and growing, especially the sprouts. I seem to be able to eat bread again, so that would mean nice summer sandwiches with veggies and cheese and herbs and such :D
I have a balcony on the south, and even though most Dutch people think we do not get any sun, I can assure you we do. It gets pretty hot on my balcony, which I hope will help with the somewhat exotic plants (cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, courgette).
Now I only need a garden-hose, cause I'm not dragging water over every day :P
We haven't set it up yet, but will take pictures when we do.
I came up with a random casserole recipe by just tossing stuff together. I have tons of cans with food from my compulsive food-buying so I just mixed what I thought would work (my cans are mostly 1 person portions):
- 1 small can of brown lentils
- 1 small can of baked beans in tomato-sauce
- half a courgette (zucchini I believe you weird USians call it)
- about 200 grams of baked mushrooms (a leftover, baked in butter and garlic salt, tasty!)
- 1 small can of cream of mushroom soup (at least, I think you call it that, I'd just call it 'creamy mushroom soup')
- two handfuls of grated cheese (ah well, cup, handfuls, who needs exact science!)
I mixed everything together apart from the cheese, put it into oven-dishes, and topped it with cheese. My cans contained about 200 grams of lentils / beans (about 7 US-oz). The soup was a one-person portion, around 230ml / 7.5oz. I don't think the exact amount really matters, the general idea / proportion counts more. I think replacing either the lentils or beans with ground beef/pork will also work pretty well (I want to try a tofu version some time soon).
I just love courgette and mushroom...
I did forget to season it with pepper and salt and herbs, but it tasted pretty good just like this, probably thanks to the soup being already seasoned. I liked the mixture of creamy soup and tomato sauce.
I put it in my toaster-oven for about half an hour on 400°F / 200°C, but it's a toaster-oven, so YMMV.
I ate a tasty portion, put another in my bento for tomorrows lunch and have two portions left for later in the week / freezer. Normally this would make two portions I think. Or maybe one and a half.
My first attempt to cook from my pantry has turned out pretty well. Very pleased :D
Now I have to think of something to cook with my forgotten-but-stil-ok small sweet peppers...