Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and drink: Shoots, sprouts and leaves

An upwelling of spring, or is that a spring upwelling?



This time of year, hope springs eternal - we hope the sun sticks around, the blossoms last and neither the taxman nor cold snaps hit us too hard.

Everyone from condo gardeners to get-down-dirty farmers have at least a bit of dirt under their fingernails and some seeds in, and perennials are already up. The first green tips of asparagus are poking through garden soil while curled fiddleheads are unfurling in sweet-smelling woodlands.

My parsley got lucky this winter and made it, plus it self-seeded about a hundred offspring. And my rosemary, oregano, tarragon and marjoram all look ready for picking.

We grabbed some fresh bay leaves the other day, pot and plant protected over winter and, mmm, the scent was delicious. I tossed some sprouting onions into the ground in a protected corner in February to see what the heck would happen and, voila, we've got green onion-like shoots to snip off.

Garlic chives are up, and so is the spearmint. What more could a gal ask for, except a few fresh leaves of early lettuce.

Don't get me wrong - I'm no gardener. But I have stumbled upon a few varieties of plants that thrive in pots, which I move around with me as I move, then move again, in situ, as weather and plant needs dictate - inside, outside, round the corner where there's more light, less frost, whatever.

This is my answer to the challenges of real gardening, which is good, for I have no patience for fussing but I do enjoy the pleasure of snapping off a bay leaf I've grown or a handful of fresh mint and feeling I have at least that small connection to the Earth and all the eons of humans who made and still make out fine without a single grocery store.

If you can't even be bothered with a few pots, one easy green thing to grow is sprouts.

There was a time in the '70s when every righteous hippie kitchen in Kitsilano or Alta Lake had a big glass jar mouldering on the counter with a piece of damp cheesecloth over the mouth. Inside would be seeds, usually alfalfa, at one stage or another of sprouting into something good.

Sprouts are still cool. To grow some, you can buy stacking plastic trays or special jars with porous plastic lids, but your basic jar with a piece of cheesecloth works just as fine.

You can use a gallon-sized jar, but a half-gallon one takes up less space and you'll make fresh sprouts more often. Heck, you can use any size jar, just adjust quantities accordingly. Some hippie kitchens had more than one jar on the go simultaneously, each filled with sprouts at different stages like farmers seeding at different times for a steady return.