Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Summer Greens, the cure to onset Winter Blues

If you're anything like me, the mere thought of a winter without greens leaves you panicked. Don't panic, there is a solution!!

A few weeks ago, I got the idea in my head that maybe I could grow greens at home. Uncertain if this was even possible, I set out to do some research. When starting any new project I always head out to a bookstore to see if they carry something on the subject. On that day I happened upon Microgreens: A Guide to Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens by Eric Franks and Jasmine Richardson. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Microgreens first outlines what materials you will need in order to grow greens in the comfort of your own home. Trays, soil, seeds, towels, sprayers, and a pH meter are just a few of the things you will need. I read the book, cover to cover, in one night. My addiction to arugula made me do it!
Next step: purchasing the necessary means to grow greens at home. For this, I spent a good hour on a Saturday afternoon pestering Ryan Hetner at Organic Botanic with a million questions. He patiently answered them, knowledgeably and thoroughly. In the corner of his shop, under rows of grow lights, there were trays of greens (including my prized arugula), living proof that I wasn't just a dreamer. Ryan pointed to different plants, while passing me samples of his greens for tasting. As expected, they were delicious! I promised that I would return after the first of the month, once the boxes in my new country home were all unpacked.
When I returned for my things, I chose 3 packages of seeds; arugula, beets and a spring mix of broccoli, radish, red clover and alfalfa. The seeds are packaged by a company called Mumm's and they are organic. And here lies another 100 mile dilemma; the seeds are packaged in Saskatchewan. I justified buying the seeds because there were no local, organic seeds available for purchase and I will be growing them at home, well within the 100 miles. I am supporting a Canadian organic seed company, as well as a local independent business. Since there are so many criterion to consider here, it is understandable that decisions may be difficult to make. Just do what feels right. As far as I know, there are no 100 mile police out there. I found a PDF online which lists other seed suppliers. If you wish to do further research, here is the link: 
The list does contain a seed company which falls within the 100 miles; Sproutmaster in Elmvale, Ontario. I contacted the owner and asked about the seeds. She told me that the seeds were from all over North America and if I were to include individual seed types, she would happily tell me their origin. Sproutmaster's website is: The email address for Mumm's, should you wish to write them with similar queries, is:
The health benefits of greens cannot be overstated. Arugula, for example, is a readily absorbable source of calcium, iron, manganese, copper and potassium. It is also a good source of vitamins A, C, K and folic acid and it is high in both Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. On top of that, arugula is considered to be one of the most potent anti-cancer foods.
I have tried to see how much nutritional value is lost during travel, to no avail. Major fruit and vegetable companies, like Dole, don't provide information on the origins of their products on their website. I have written a letter to them but I don't expect a reply. One can assume that, much like other fruits and vegetables, they are at their nutritional best directly after harvest,and rapidly lose nutritional value soon after. Personally, I like the idea of cutting my greens fresh and consuming them immediately after. I know what kind of soil they were grown in (organic) and that they were not sprayed with chemicals. The pH of my water was tested and modified, allowing for optimum plant growth. The greens I planted mere days ago are happily reaching their little arms to the skies. Every morning they are significantly taller. By the end of this week I will be consuming salad greens that I grew myself. This summer I was buying my greens from Fourfold Farms and Backyard Bounty, both located at the Guelph Farmer's Market. Now I'll be eating them right out of my windowbox. How's that for local?

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