The Salad Challenge: you win some, you lose some

Last week, as part of the 52 Week Salad Challenge I sowed various seeds which I left under a Velux, since the potting shed (where I live, in case you haven’t read early posts) has no window sills and little spare space to store things. I thought the Velux would throw enough light onto the seed trays but clearly it doesn’t because the first seeds to germinate, probably celery, (label things, Gillian, you never remember which is which!) are now tiny seed leaves on very tall and floppy stems. What I forgot to take into account is that the Velux is north facing, with a tall old oak tree only ten metres away. So it’s available light is not good and the poor old seedlings had gone in search of more!

Bemoaning my leggy seedlings on Twitter I received this advice from Alys Fowler:

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For anyone not used to Twitter’s succinct style that is that I could try repotting the seedlings, burying their leggy stems below the new compost level or, alternatively, just adding more compost to the tray they were in. I would never have thought of doing that. Thank you, Alys.

I would like to say I tried it and it worked, but I didn’t. By then they were so leggy and floppy and the seed leaves were so tiny I was pretty certain I would never transplant them in one piece and I couldn’t add more compost because I had sown another variety of seeds in the other half of the container (another habit I really should break) and they hadn’t germinated yet. So, a failure on the celery front, but some great advice for another time. You win some, you lose some.

Today, however, saw a success. Lunch comprised hummus made with chickpeas that I had sprouted plus a salad of pea and broad bean shoots and a few shallot leaves, all picked from the plants over-wintering outside plus a few surviving mizuna leaves. Most winters these would not be growing in January and the mizuna would be long dead, but we have had nearly three weeks of clear blue skies and temperatures most days get close to double figures for a few hours at least.

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I was delighted with the hummus and preferred it to the usual way of using cooked peas. I blitzed the chickpeas in the blender, but they were still quite coarsely chopped. I can’t give you a recipe because hummus is one of those ‘a bit of this, a bit of that, taste it, adjust’ sort of things. Well, in my kitchen it is. But, since there is no cooking liquid to moisten it with, I probably added more olive oil and tahini than usual. The conversation at lunch went like this:

Alec: What exactly am I eating?
Me: Hummus
Alec: Then why does it have sweet corn in it?

I could see what he meant, instead of the usual chickpea mush, the chunky bits did look like rather anaemic sweet corn. I found the texture more interesting than usual and the flavour was certainly more intense. I usually add quite a lot of seasoning to liven it up, this time it didn’t seem to need it. I shall certainly make it this way from now on.

Now, what on earth are we going to eat next week?

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7 responses to “The Salad Challenge: you win some, you lose some

  1. Lovely blog Gillian i am sure you will find somethink nice to eat next week

  2. Perhaps you could eat your leggy celery tops as microgreens? I do like the idea of humous made from sprouted chickpeas – really interesting idea.

  3. Lunch sounds and looks most delicious Gilly :) I am totally mystified as to what a Velux is so off to investigate forthwith.

  4. Hi Gilly – fab posts both and they’re up in the Salad Days round up for this month :)

    I’ve learned loads so far via the challenge and it’s been so much fun. Thanks for joining in!

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