Category Archives: gardens

Grow Your Own Micro-Greens on the Window-Sill

Disclosure.  This post is a review of a product I was sent for free. All opinions are my own.

I do love the idea of subscription boxes, particularly the element of surprise as to what will be in the next box. There is such a wide selection of themes that there is sure to be something for everyone. Recently I came across a new one – Silly Greens – the grow-your-own micro sized greens club and knew instantly that I just had to try this eco-friendly idea. So I was delighted to be selected to review one of their boxes for free. Plus when you page down, you’ll find details of a giveaway.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

I’ve been dabbling with growing my own vegetables in the garden for a few years now, but had never thought of micro greens, even though they are so tasty. But I can remember one of my first introductions to growing plants as a young child was cress ‘heads’ in empty egg shells on the window sill. Sounds like time to return to my roots if you’ll pardon the pun.

Micro greens are ideal, as anyone can grow them indoors on their window sill all year round, even if you have no outdoor space. So the Silly Greens box fits easily through your letterbox and they have already got you started by sowing the seeds before sending it to you. Bet you’re wondering how that works, via the mail service, and possibly arriving upside down on your door mat. Well the seeds are not sown in soil, but on an Agar mat, which is an organic plant based jelly made from seaweed, which on the whole stickily keeps the seeds in place. No herbicides or pesticides involved and peat-free too. It doesn’t specifically say, but I believe this comes under the umbrella of hydroponic growing methods. Although I have to say the density of mine did vary somewhat across the trays, so I do wonder if they had moved a bit in transit. Since they had already germinated and sprouted, I wasn’t sure whether I should attempt to spread them out a bit, so I decided best to not touch. However the bunching didn’t seem to matter, apart from maybe the aesthetics of my photos.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

The box has a label to warn that it contains perishable products, plus indicates which is the correct way up, so all I had to do on arrival was tear off the lid. There was a very useful booklet inside – The Green Touch, full of useful tips and facts along with a bit more information on the card about the varities included. So I discovered that it was recommended to keep the card covering them until their height pushes it off, that they don’t need the light initially. I also had to be careful with not much watering, as I do find with all gardening that I’m prone to either over or under watering. However Agar is a bonus in that regard, as it keeps the seeds hydrated without needing to be sprayed and the cover helps to maintain the humidity. I just passed that tip onto my Dad as he has been left in charge of making sure some carrot seeds that my niece planted on a sheet of damp kitchen roll don’t dry out whilst they are away on holiday.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

Silly Greens have a wide range of micro greens listed on their website, but my box contained the following three crops – radish, rocket and turnip. Initially I knew which was which, due to the labelling on the card but I have to admit I got into a muddle, when I carried the individual trays to the sink for watering. I’m sure they didn’t realise how spot on their name choice would be in this regard, but apologies if I seem silly and green, talking about the  wrong crop now. The box was marked with the date of sowing, so you can easily keep track of progress. I decided it was time to start harvesting on day 10 as I think the ‘radish’ was starting to get a bit leggy. I cut all the ‘radish’ but only some of the other two, allowing them to continue to grow for longer.

Silly Greens micro-greens subscription box

Now hopefully you will appreciate some inspiration of how to serve these nutritious healthy sprouting seeds. Apart from a quick taste-test, my first harvest went in a salad I was making to take for my lunch at work. I don’t follow a particular recipe when making salad, but I usually do some prep in advance, for instance roasting some veggies in the oven, whilst cooking dinner. So this particular salad contained the following other ingredients along with the micro-greens.
Roasted sweet potato, parsnip and onion
Very slightly steamed broccoli (only because I prefer it that way to raw)
Shredded iceberg lettuce and red cabbage
Carrot, cucucmber and tomato
Several genererous spoonfuls of natural yoghurt

Silly Greens micro-greens as salad garnish

I harvested some more of the ‘rocket’ and ‘turnip’ micro-greens on day 14, this time to garnish a soup I was making. Who would like to guess the flavour from the image? I’ll tell you at the bottom of this blog post. The booklet indicates that most micro-greens are at their best at 3-4 inches tall. At this point, mine are probably still between 2-3 inches in height.

Nettle soup

Once the crop is over, the Agar jelly and roots can go in either home compost or food waste. All other packaging is recyclable at home, plus the plastic trays can be washed and repurposed. However I decided to try and see if any seeds were still yet to germinate by popping them outside in a planter.

Composting Silly Greens

So each box of 3 greens currently costs £5 including postage and you can set up a subscription on a 1, 2, 4 or 6 weekly basis, depending how frequently you want your greens. It is very flexible too as you may pause or reschedule your delivery. That is such a bargain in my opinion and of course so fresh, as farmed micro-greens typically have such a short shelf life in comparison. Excellent value for money, sustainable and environmentally friendly too. Ideal as a gift too.

And I’m hosting a rafflecopter competition, courtesy of Silly Greens to give away a 6 month subscription of micro green boxes to one lucky winner. For clarity, this will be on a monthly basis, so the prize is 6 boxes in total.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway – Please click on the link to enter.

And you may see my other giveaways here.

Now let me tell you the flavour of my soup. It is nettle and the microgreens certainly gave a delicious tasty boost to both my salad and soup. Tell me in the comments if you guessed the soup flavour correctly. Here is the link to my recipe.

I’d love to hear what are your favourite micro greens?

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Foraging in my own garden

I’m sure many of you enjoy wild blackberry picking when you are out on a walk, but have you ever foraged for anything more adventurous or unusual? I’ve gathered fallen apples and sweet chestnuts, but I’m too scared to try picking fungi as I don’t know the difference between edible mushrooms and ones which might possibly be poisonous. Perhaps I should sign up for a fungi foraging course. I shall have to look to see if there are any in this part of the UK. Or coastal foraging is another idea which I could fancy trying. And last month, I saw wild garlic in the woodland whilst out on a run. However sometimes you can even find things closer to home in your own garden like dandelions and nettles.

Typically viewed as weeds, both of these have excellent nutritious properties. Nettles are full of vitamins and minerals. So when I was digging out some young nettles that were competing with my herbs and alpine strawberries, I decided to have a go at cooking them. I chopped off the roots before bringing them in and giving them a good wash.

Now these were from my garden, but if you are foraging elsewhere, you will want to bear in mind not to pick from by the roadside or below where dogs may pee. Also gather them young before they start flowering.

I decided to make a nettle soup, but another idea is pesto, although you would still need to cook the nettles first to remove the sting. Think of using them in recipes as an alternative to spinach.

Nettle soup

Nettle Soup

Ingredients

1 large bunch of nettles
micro-greens to garnish
2 medium potatoes
1/3 of a leek
1 clove of garlic
10 chives
2x 100ml frozen chicken stock cubes (or vegetable stock if preferred)
pinch of thyme
salt and pepper
milk to mix
1 tbsp cream
knob of butter

Method

Carefully wearing gloves, wash the nettles.
Cut the nettle leaves from the stalks, discarding any which look past their best.
Boil the kettle and pour water into a saucepan.
Tip the nettles into the pan and set aside for a few minutes.
Drain the nettles through a sieve, reserving the water.
Meanwhile chop potatoes, (no need to peel), leeks and chives into small pieces.
Peel and press garlic through garlic press.
Grease the saucepan with butter and gently heat.
Add the garlic, leek and chives and cover with lid.
Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Defrost the chicken stock.
Add the chicken stock and reserved nettle water and potatoes.
Bring pan to the boil, turning down to a simmer.
Cook until potatoes are soft.
Add nettles and continue cooking for a couple of minutes.
Season with thyme, salt and pepper.
Pour into blender and blend until smooth.
Return to pan and add sufficient milk to thin to desired consistency, cooking for a few more minutes.
Stir in cream.
Pour into bowls and garnish with micro greens.
Serve and enjoy.

nettle soup

A very tasty satisfying soup indeed.

I’d love to hear your foraging recipes? I’m contemplating elderflowers and rosehips for cordial. My elder tree is flowering now but only one branch of flowers is in reach. The others are too high up.

Who else has tried nettles?

And finally if you do forage for food in the wild, please remember to leave plenty behind for birds and other creatures.

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A magical fairy garden walk

This post has been pending since when we were on holiday last summer. We stayed on a static caravan site in Devon and when we went for a woodland walk on the site, we discovered something rather magical and unexpected. The boys were not interested but I loved these miniature fairy doors at the bottom of tall trees.

fairy doors

It was a trail. Here is one of the signs. I love how it asks are you a fairy or elf.

The Council of Five

There were lots of things to discover hanging in the trees too, but unfortunately they didn’t show up on the photos I took, but look at the fabulous toadstools. Not quite enough for a full fairy ring though.

Toadstools

So what have you discovered on a walk that you weren’t expecting?

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A visit to Corfe Castle Model Village

Son2 and I took a fairly brief visit to Corfe Castle Model Village on our recent weekend in Dorset. We would have liked to have spent longer there, but I was conscious of the fact that my other half and son1 were waiting for us. We liked it there and I’m sure son1 would have enjoyed it too, but he was far too tired to come on the visit. Having visited Bekonscot Model Village earlier this year, this was on a much smaller scale, but just as nice. Also a much more modest entry price, plus we were told that our tickets were valid for 7 days if we wished to come back. Corfe Castle model village The garden was divided into several areas. Naturally there were the models of Corfe Castle and the other buildings in the village. These were in the second part of the garden and son2 marched puposefully through the first section of the garden unti we reached this part. He immediately spotted that there was even Doctor Who’s Tardis at the Castle. There were two talking life-size soldiers guarding the castle. Plus working stocks and pillories. We didn’t try them out, as son2 had already been put in the stocks the previous day at the real castle. And we could hear music from the church. Corfe Castle model village We then carried on to the rear which was a wildlife garden with a pond and teepee and a bird hide window. Plenty of giant garden games here although we didn’t stop for a play. Then moving onto the side was the enchanted fairy garden. Son2 wasn’t as impressed here, moving swiftly past the fairies. Even Winnie the Pooh was here. Corfe Castle model village We then returned to the first part of the garden where there were more giant garden games. Whilst son2 built a tower, I went into the potting shed. This had been converted into a mini museum. I learnt that all the models apart from the castle had been built in the potting shed. The castle was built in situ on the mound. Corfe Castle model village There was also a cafe and gift-shop. And we had the place almost to ourselves, apart from one family sitting in the garden and a group breakfasting on the cafe terrace. A lovely place to visit if you’re in Dorset. I’d love to hear about your favourite places to visit. And watch out for another post coming soon about the rest of our weekend.

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Mammsaurus HDYGG

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A Visit to Bateman’s – Rudyard Kipling’s home

We spent our October half term holiday in a static caravan in Sussex. Apart from one day, the weather was fantastic, so we got out for plenty of trips. One day we visited Bateman’s, the former home of Rudyard Kipling, author of The Jungle Book, now owned by The National Trust.

The gardens were full of beautiful Autumn colour and the boys enjoyed taking part in the spooky Halloween trail. My best bit of Autumn is going for lovely Autumnal walks and seeing the trees in their colourful Autumn glory. Even the flowers were still colourful to add to my pleasure, as captured in my photograph.

Bateman's

Beautiful Autumn colours

The spooky trail was well thought out. When you found each clue, there were different challenges for older and younger children as to what to draw on their spooky picture. So son1 did the older version whilst son2 did the younger version. And great for learning map reading skills too. They both got a medal at the end of the trail.Bateman's

We also did a whistlestop tour round the inside of the house and mill. Had to be quick as son1 refused to go inside.  No I don’t know why he wouldn’t. And the weather was glorious – end of October and we were able to sit outside the tearoom for lunch. A nice browse round the shop too and I couldn’t resist buying some cheap pear windfalls, which I stewed for dessert that evening. A very basic pudding but tasty as I hadn’t bothered equipping the caravan kitchen with anything like flour. Pear trees weren’t the only crop as I spotted some chillis in a greenhouse.

And I loved how each bench outside had a pocket at each end containing a different laminated fact sheet. From one I rediscovered a poem of Kipling’s that I probably hadn’t heard since I was a child and read it to my boys. This was “I keep six honest serving men”and you may read it here.

I would love to hear what is your best bit of Autumn?

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Norfolk Lavender

On our recent holiday to Norfolk, we visited Norfolk Lavender in Heacham. I love lavender but I was amazed to discover that there are over 100 different varieties of lavender. It was glorious wandering around the lavender, herbs and gardens. Unfortunately I missed the guided tour of how the lavender distillery operates. The boys had fun too at Farmer Fred’s Play Barn which was on the same site.

norfolk lavender

norfolk lavender

Norfolk lavender

I tried a lavender ice-cream there and bought a lavender cake and other tasty goodies from the farm shop to take home. I also bought some lavender syrup for my mum from the gift shop.

Lady's Mantle

It was really interesting to read about each herb. I loved the fact about Lady’s Mantle that in the 18th century, women applied the leaves to their breasts to make them recover their shape after breast feeding.

I’d love to hear any other unusual herb facts.

lavender distillery

The lavender distillery

Norfolk lavender

A couple of unusual items for sale

Norfolk lavender

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(originally linked up with Mammasaurus HDYGG, which is no longer active)