Be an Urban Gardener

Pea Shoot 2
We have had a couple of weeks of gorgeous weather and I have been busy getting my vegetable patch filled up with seedlings. 
Fortunately (or unfortunately to some), the weather is a little too wet to work outside this morning, so I decided to write about planting vegetables instead of getting wet. 
When I saw the beautiful Sky Rocket from my patch which I sowed last winter, I had this strange rocket craving all of a sudden, so I picked a couple of rocket leaves and started chewing them.  For me, the joy of hand picking and tasting your own vegetables is beyond description!  The difference between buying vegetables in a store and hand picking your own vegetables just a few minutes before your dinner is massive.  Once you have grown your own successfully, you will not go back to store bought vegetables. 
However, I understand some of you may not have a very large garden (or no garden at all, if in an apartment).  That doesn’t mean you cannot have a little salad heaven growing on your kitchen window sill, in a window box or even better, a balcony! 
Lucky you if you have a balcony, as you can grow quite a lot on a balcony i.e. tomatoes, potatoes, lettuces, peas, beans, cucumber and whatnot.  These are some of the vegetables that don’t mind being in a pot and they ripen very quickly.  I am not sure whether any of you have come across the TomTato Plant.  This is a new invention of Tomatoes and Potatoes in one plant, saving you a lot of pot space!  As a bonus, it is a natural product as TomTato is specially grafted by hand in order to create this unique double cropping feature. There’s no genetic modification – it’s an all-natural, and safe process.
 
Another good one is Pea Shoots.  Everyone loves Pea Shoots. You can add some to your summer salads, but being Chinese, I tend to make stir-fry with them.  With a little oil and garlic, you have the perfect dish.  You will need quite a lot of Pea Shoots to make it as a side dish.  That’s why I have been growing them since early March (a bit late this year).  
 
You can get Pea seeds from your local garden centre. It will be a bit more costly as they come in a small batch.  Alternatively, you can use dried peas from the supermarket, the germination rate is very high and a lot cheaper. 
 
Here is how you do it, you will need:-
Seed trays with lid, whatever size you like, for me a big one which can sit comfortably on a window works best.
Compost
Dried Peas 
Water
 Pea Shoot 1
  1. Fill 2/3 of the seed tray with compost, then sprinkle a little water to settle the compost nicely.
  2. Lay Peas on the compost giving about a 1 cm gap inbetween each Pea (I am bit of a perfectionist when it comes to growing pea shoots, so I like to line them neatly in lines, but you can do anything with them).
  3. Cover the Peas with a little compost.
  4. Sprinkle a little bit more water and put the lid on. 
  5. Place the seed tray in a sunny position and germination should take place within a week or so. 
 You will need to keep the seed tray moist during the growing period and you will be able to harvest your pea shoots in a few weeks time!  The best way is to wait for all the Pea Shoots to grow into about 3 inches and then harvest them by cutting them just 1.5 cm above the compost.  Keep the tray well watered and you will have a second cutting in a few more weeks.  After the second cutting, I will sow a new batch as the yield starts to drop from first cutting. 
 
Peas can germinate in quite low temperature so sometimes I will sow them in February under a fleece covered in a cold frame. 
 
Normally, I sow a couple of large seed trays with peas every fortnight during the growing season. This way I can guarantee to have enough supply for my stir-fry in the summer. 

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