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Grow Your Own

By Karen Bowley, WATCH (Wodonga Albury Towards Climate Health) and Wooragee Landcare

The subject of food security is becoming an important and urgent issue.  We are beginning to realise that, as we are building suburbs and cities on our most fertile soils, our population is also growing at such a fast rate that before very soon we will be struggling to feed everyone here in Australia.

In our house, we love to eat salads all year round.  To buy lettuce and other salad items can be expensive and may involve the food travelling many miles in order to arrive at our table.  To minimise our carbon footprint and become more self reliant, we have learnt to grow our own lettuce and sprouts so that we may eat fresh salad whenever we want.

Lettuce and rocket is very easy to grow, either in the garden or a pot.  And having grown it once, if you let one plant go to seed, you can collect the seed for next time or let the plants self seed.  Lettuce/rocket grows quickly and will feed a family of five for many weeks. Of course, planting every few weeks keeps you in produce for as long as you want.

It is also easy to grow bean sprouts.  Sprouts are delicious and are rich in minerals and vitamins.  Sprouts are also easy and inexpensive to grow: all you need is a jar with a lid that will allow the water to drain out. You can buy a special jar with a lid, or you can use any jar and improvise a lid with an old stocking or piece of cheesecloth. 

Mung beans or alfalfa seeds are ideal bean sprouts to grow.  Add a couple of teaspoons of the seeds to the jar and soak in water overnight.  Then each morning and night rinse the beans and leave to drain on the sink.  In about five days you will have a jar full of sprouts to use in sandwiches or in salads.  

There are different flavoured and sized sprouts.  A spicy mix can include radish and mustard to stimulate the taste buds and clear the sinuses.  And then there are pea shoots, broccoli green sprouting seed, or you can mix and match your own. You can buy the seeds from your nearest bulk food store or supermarket.  Have a go and surprise yourself!