I’m a lot of things. Some of those include: A backyard gardener. Impatient. Living in one of the worst droughts in California history. Impatient. A book worm. Oh, yeah, and impatient!
I contacted Chelsea Green Publishing (click here to check them out!) after discovering them through the National Heirloom Exposition. Founded in 1984, Chelsea Green Publishing is recognized as a leading publisher of books on the politics and practice of sustainable living. They publish authors who bring in-depth, practical knowledge to life, and give readers hands-on information related to organic farming and gardening, permaculture, ecology, the environment, simple living, food, sustainable business and economics, green building, and much much more!
Chelsea Green Publishing has over 350 books in print and many more on the way, and each book looks like a useful, worthy and edifying read. As an avid book reader and reviewer (as you all well know!) I was impatient (see, I told you it’s a major trait!) to review something, ANYTHING from this awesome publishing company.
I literally sent them an e-mail asking to review ANYTHING they sent me. (Of the dozens of publishing companies I’ve worked with in reviews before, I have NEVER done that before!) And they recommended Year Round Indoor Salad Gardening by Peter Burke.
I was stupid excited to review this book, and would have thought the company has some kind of creepy mind reading powers on what book I’d most like to review if I didn’t want to review Every. Single. One. Of. Their. Books. Haha! Seriously guys, check this company out!
But anyway, on with the review!
About the Book
Book description from amazon.com (click here to buy!):
The Low-Tech, No-Grow-Lights Approach to Abundant Harvest
Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening offers good news: with nothing more than a cupboard and a windowsill, you can grow all the fresh salad greens you need for the winter months (or throughout the entire year) with no lights, no pumps, and no greenhouse.
Longtime gardener Peter Burke was tired of the growing season ending with the first frost, but due to his busy work schedule and family life, didn’t have the time or interest in high-input grow lights or greenhouses. Most techniques for growing what are commonly referred to as “microgreens” left him feeling overwhelmed and uninterested. There had to be a simpler way to grow greens for his family indoors. After some research and diligent experimenting, Burke discovered he was right―there was a way! And it was even easier than he ever could have hoped, and the greens more nutrient packed. He didn’t even need a south-facing window, and he already had most of the needed supplies just sitting in his pantry. The result: healthy, homegrown salad greens at a fraction of the cost of buying them at the market. The secret: start them in the dark.
Growing “Soil Sprouts”―Burke’s own descriptive term for sprouted seeds grown in soil as opposed to in jars―employs a method that encourages a long stem without expansive roots, and provides delicious salad greens in just seven to ten days, way earlier than any other method, with much less work. Indeed, of all the ways to grow immature greens, this is the easiest and most productive technique. Forget about grow lights and heat lamps! This book is a revolutionary and inviting guide for both first-time and experienced gardeners in rural or urban environments. All you need is a windowsill or two. In fact, Burke has grown up to six pounds of greens per day using just the windowsills in his kitchen! Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening offers detailed step-by-step instructions to mastering this method (hint: it’s impossible not to succeed, it’s so easy!), tools and accessories to have on hand, seeds and greens varieties, soil and compost, trays and planters, shelving, harvest and storage, recipes, scaling up to serve local markets, and much more.
My Thoughts on the Book
This book came with impeccable timing, arriving in the fall after a less than successful drought ridden California summer. It’s now autumn and my thirsty garden of blighted tomatoes and rodent plagued greens had left me feeling a bit brown in the thumb if you know what I mean.
I’m told that it was a hard summer for ALL backyard gardeners in the Central Valley, which makes me feel less horrible, but STILL. As an avid supporter of urban farming, I was feeling super down about having to put the garden to bed for the winter with my shamefully small veggie haul.
So a chance to grow a greens crop – or rather, multiple crops – inside, in the winter, year round, and in less than two weeks? SAY WHAT?!?!? Color me intrigued!
So let’s just jump right in, yeah? Does it work?? Ummm,,, YES!!
This is so ridiculously easy it seemed like there HAD to be some kind of “catch”. As I read the book cover to cover, I kept thinking, “Where’s the hard part? It’s CAN’T be this easy!”
This method is just perfect for me too. While lots of light isn’t a requirement for this method, it helps, and I have tons of windows in my house, and lots of windowsill space in my kitchen and dining room.
The big problem I have are the cats who like to eat ANYTHING I grow indoors. I have laid many a houseplant to rest after being nommed by one of our furry babies. So after doing what Mr. Burke says not to do, and jumping right in buying 5 pound bags of seed, I held my breath in the six days of windowsill time the trays enjoyed, and amazingly enough the cats DID NOT eat my sprouts! WE’RE A GO! Haha.
So for my first round of sprouts, I tried organic red clover, black oil sunflower seeds and pea shoots. I kept hovering over the cupboard, anxious to check and see if the sprouts were pushing up the wet newspaper, and my husband kept catching me in the act, telling me to “have faith and let it do it’s thing”. Stinkin’ patient man husband.
I used baking trays from the Dollar Store, but I intend to make some cedar plank trays since they’ll be far prettier for the windowsill and I have a feeling these babies will be out and about A LOT over the fall and winter! We made an all green salad once the ten days were up, and the three trays made a good dinner salad for the hubby and I. I think I’ll plant five trays next time, and keep a three to four day rotation up to keep my family in side and dinner salads over the winter.
Mr. Burke kept stressing throughout the book that you can’t mess this up.. and that is so so SO very true. After harvesting my sprouts, I chucked the baking tins into my garage since we were going out of town and I wouldn’t be doing another batch for a week or so. When I came back, not only had some of the pea shoots regrown, but tons of the red clover late bloomers had regrown the ENTIRE tray.. while sitting in a rubbish heap in my garage!