Sprouts and microgreens
Shorter days and low sun angle in Tasmania mean plant growth is very slow during winter. These also affect humans, mentally and physically. The best approach to maintaining your health and vitality at this time includes making every mouthful as nourishing as possible. It is time to grow sprouts and microgreens because those very first moments of a seed’s germination are packed full of enzymes and nutrients.
SPROUTS (grown in a jar or container, without soil or the need for sunlight) should be eaten when the growth is only a couple of mm long, not left to grow long. My favourites are: lentils, chickpeas, fenugreek, buckwheat, mung beans, all of which only take 2-3 days. Wash well before eating to wash off the phytates. Some people prefer to blanch them before eating, but I don’t.
MICROGREENS (sown thickly in a tray of soil and raised in a sunny window or greenhouse) are cut with scissors and eaten when they have their first true leaves after the initial 2 baby leaves. This may take 2 – 3 weeks. There is excellent information on the Green Harvest website. Anything with edible leaves will make delicious, nutritious microgreens for salads.
Keeping chooks laying during winter
There are some absolutely gorgeous looking chooks but I have chooks to lay eggs, to constantly turn my weeds, finished plants and autumn leaves into compost, to chat with and to add their bedding to my worm farm. So, I have hylines or isabrowns, which are chooks that have been bred to lay. I don’t have roosters. Every November I get 2 new, point of lay hylines because I know from experience that 2 older chooks will die during the year, from old age or raptor attack or something else (I rarely eat my chooks). Buying them in November ensures that they get laying as we come into summer and they will keep laying pretty much every day for at least 2 years. Having 2 young chooks seems to also keep the older chooks in a laying frame of mind longer!
They have all day access to Red Hen grains (the one without animal protein). In the late afternoon I give them a small amount of organic wheat and sunflower seeds that have been soaked in water for 24 hours. If I have some unused stock or milk or anything else, I use that but water is fine. Soaked grain is more nutritious (as in the sprouts above) and feeding them late in the day ensures that they go to bed with a full crop, which evidently keeps them warmer at night.
They have access to water, which has a clove of garlic in it, for their health and for worm control. I don’t refresh their water until is it running low. I don’t find it necessary to treat them for anything (parasites, mites etc). They love freshly picked greens and I give them some most days, on the ground, held down by a brick, so they can tear off what they need.
Their coop is deliberately airy, but dry. They have a big free range area under the fruit trees and often out in my front garden, away from my vegetables. Dust bathing is very important and the ground under the oak trees stays fairly dry, which is handy. I don’t fuss about with chook care! But I talk to them and touch them or pick up them every day so they are easy for me to handle if I need to trim their wings or deal with for any reason. New chooks, like new puppies, learn from the older ones so having calm, happy, older chooks is really important.
I have not bought eggs for 20 years or more and currently have 3 chooks.
Seeds to sow in June
Sow in the garden:
Salad and spring onions
Sow in trays to plant out later:
Free seeds available at the Cygnet Seed Library (see facebook page)
Winter herbs: coriander, chervil etc
Winter flowering annuals
Herb: a cook’s companion by Mark Diacono…. An absolutely fabulous book about making the most of herbs, in every way
Eat Wild Tasmanian by Rees Campbell…. About growing and eating Tasmanian edible plants
Jobs for June
-Prune deciduous trees except cherries and apricots
-Feed and mulch the dripline of fruit trees with anything you have, including seaweed and good sprinklings of ash from the fire.
-Collect seaweed (especially kelp) after winter storms and cover your asparagus patch with it. Brassicas also love it. Wonderful added to your compost too.
-Walk in the forests and see the fungi
-Lacto-ferment root veg and sprout seeds to add vitality and nourishment to your body during winter.
-Take time to read, write, walk, swim, breathe, cook and think.
-Make a wonderful pesto with chervil and almonds / rocket and pistachios / parsley and walnuts. ---Make hempseed butter for hot toast and honey.
-Check out my blogs for food and gardening inspiration….
Vegetable Vagabond and Gardeners Gastronomy