Posts Tagged ‘save our youth’

Growing Microgreens

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

My friend Ted Skenandore of the Tsyuhehkwa Center has been growing pea and sunflower micro-greens and explained his method to me a few months ago.  Now I’ve been growing them for myself as well as with the young people of the Save Our Youth program.  These are his directions.  My comments are in parenthesis.

  • Fill a 11″ x 21″ tray with small drainage holes half full of potting soil.  (The standard black greenhouse trays that are referred to as 1020 trays work well.)
  • Water potting soil
  • Add about one cup of seeds evenly across soil (Use one cup only if the seeds are large, like peas or sunflowers.  You only need 2-3 tablespoons if the seeds are small like Chinese cabbage or radishes.)
  • Add enough potting soil to cover seeds
  • Press in firmly
  • Water again
  • Cover with second tray that is the same size and press in firmly again.  (For the second tray I use one that doesn’t have holes in it.)
  • Water every two days.  (I have found that if the trays are indoors they only need to be watered every three to four days.)
  • When seedlings start to push top tray up flip it upside down and re-cover.
  • When seedlings push upside down tray up uncover and put in sunny location for one day
  • Seedlings should turn green and are ready to harvest
Sunflower Microgreens still pale before being exposed to sunlight.

The sunflower Microgreens just after I removed the top tray.

Sunflower MicroGreens after one day exposure to sunlight

The sunflower microgreens later that same day.

Pea Microgreen shoots ready to eat

Pea Micro-greens ready to eat.

Microgreens have gotten a lot of hype about their alleged super nutritional value.  Unfortunately the evidence doesn’t yet back that claim up.  They are, however, a great addition to one’s regular outdoor gardening.  I like having something ready to eat one week to ten days after I sow it and they taste great.

Saving Our Youth with Self-Watering Containers

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

A few months ago I came across Mike Lieberman’s website, the Urban Organic Gardener.  He posted several how-to videos about making self-watering planters out of reclaimed five gallon pails.    He does an excellent job explaining how to make them, so I’m not going to repeat all of the steps in this post.

I decided that this would be a perfect project to try out with the Save Our Youth Project of Red Salmon Arts, housed at Resistencia Bookstore.  We had already planted a small herb and vegetable garden, but since they had little soil and far more paved parking lot, containers made a lot of sense.

Czarina, Rene and the other staff and volunteers of Red Salmon Arts already do superb work with young people via poetry and arts.  They recruited me to add a gardening component to their workshops.

Below are our steps towards turning a bit of parking lot into a vegetable garden.

Jacob drilling drainage holes in the inner bucket.

I want to thank the staff at Central Market Westgate in Austin for providing me with empty peanut butter and almond butter buckets from their bulk department.  My friends wonder why my car always smells like peanut butter.

Cutting the copper tubing for the water inlet.


We modified Mike's design by cutting tabs into the bottom of the old yogurt container so that it wouldn't slide around.

Jacob and Crayvon adding the pre-wetted potting mix.

I find that adding some water to the potting mix prior to planting makes it easier for the soil to take up water.

Rene, Crayvon, Czarina and Jacob show off the finished planters.

Given the shift in Austin weather to some cooler fall temperatures we planted collard greens, chard and broccoli.  As the young people get the hang of caring for these plants we will probably make several more containers.  In total we spent about one hour making the containers and less than one hour planting them, making it an easy way to transform a patch of asphalt.