|British writers Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz|
When you have less, you want more. Especially when you have less time or, in my case, less space and sun in which to grow vegetables at home.
So I was excited to receive The Speedy Vegetable Garden, a new Timber Press book about veggies for the impatient or time-squeezed – but also for the sunless and spaceless, like me.
After the first few pages, I was already planting a garden in a nylon sockette.
Yup. I’ll tell you why in a minute.
British writers Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz cover a lot of ground (ho ho). Amongst their first speedy tricks are sprouts, which you likely know about, and soaks.
Soaks? Are you intrigued? It’s the act of soaking seeds overnight to trigger the germination busy-ness inside that makes them more nutritious and ready to feed a young plant. Or you. Overnight soaking, even I have time to do.
So I zipped over to my local Better Bulk to pick up raw sunflower seeds and almonds to try soaking, and organic chickpeas to try sprouting.
Encouraged by Diacono and Leendertz, I discovered that soaks are easy-peasy. You need the seed of your choice, a bowl, water and a good night’s sleep. By morning, my plumped almonds and sunflower seeds were ready. We ate them on cereal, in salads or with yogurt.
After soaking, the chickpeas were ready to graduate to sprouting. Keep in mind, I have no spouting tray, nor the official-looking sprouting bag that Leendertz notes large seeds like chickpeas are ideal for. But I was impatient. Looking for an odd sock which I thought might do the job, my eyes latched onto a stockingette. Even better – not only could I rinse my sprouts in it, I’d see the results.
Invention is the necessity of mothers. Set in a bowl in a dark cupboard, and rinsed every 12 hours, the chickpeas sprouted beautifully in my makeshift sprouting bag, and made a great salad addition.
|My speedy vegetable experiments (clockwise, from top left): raw almonds; soaked almonds and sunflower seeds with yogurt and honey; sprouted chickpea salad; and the chickpea sprouts in my stockingette sprout bag. Yes, it was clean.|
Sprouts and seeds are only the beginning. Diacono and Leendertz cover how-tos on trendy microgreens, or harvesting the earliest leaves from a diversity of seeds. Salad greens, the perfect veggie for us shady garden types, are given good coverage. And the authors also go through better varieties of standard garden vegetables, from tomatoes to turnips. It’s all paired with recipes, such as the chocolate beet brownies that still have me going Mmmmmm in anticipation of beet season.
In the Greater Toronto Area, our growing season – the number of frost-free days – ranges from 150 to 170 days (or a bit more in the hotter inner city). Not bad, really. It compares well to many areas of the UK – although, of course, Toronto’s winters are harsher. Despite being by British authors, much of the advice in The Speedy Vegetable Garden applies to us quite nicely.
While I wouldn’t call this a dense read, it is a quick and inspiring one. As you can see by me.