Monthly Archives: June 2016

#42 Contribute to the Greening of Winter

Winter’s a tough time for many amateur gardeners, especially the less robust among us.

It’s too cold and too wet to spend much time outside, and even for those prepared to toughen up and bring out the woollies, macs and gumboots, the rewards are few. Nothing much wants to grow.

Sure, there are jobs to do – we can prune and compost, rake and prepare garden beds for spring, but wouldn’t it be better if instead, we could:

#42 Contribute to the Greening of Winter

Sadly, it seems that almost anything you plant this time of the year withholds its rewards until Spring.

A close friend of mine who’s dipping her toes into the waters of green thumbed-ness this season (pardon the mixed metaphor) by experimenting with bulbs for the first time is coming to realise that something she planted way back in April may barely be sighted again until September, despite lavishing attention on it and providing it with a gorgeous hand painted designer pot.


miles to go before I bloom…

The pace of growth in winter can only be described as glacial.

The glorious crimson and scarlet leaves that floated off the persimmon tree a few weeks ago –

Scarlet leaves 2 – have now shrivelled and dried to this:

Shrivelled leaves

yes, it’s still us (sob)…really

The green lawn is balding, too …

Dried lawn

ageing, patchy and way past its prime 

Honestly if it weren’t for the camellias and the mandarin trees, bless their little hearts,

Mandarinswinter might have to be rebadged. Just as the North Americans call autumn ‘fall’ in honour of what they see happening around them, so we might consider renaming winter ‘brown’.

But all is not lost. Notice the line “almost anything you plant this time of the year withholds its rewards until Spring”?

I’ve managed to find a project for winter that will deliver plenty of green:Grow Wheat Grass

You know wheat grass – the ludicrously expensive additive that’s cut from a tray of living green blades of grass sitting on the bench at hipster cafés. The stuff that’s thrown into smoothies and juices to persuade you it’ll counteract the fructose and glucose from the added banana and maple syrup.

Here’s how the wheat grass project goes:

Begin with a cup of wheat bought from your local produce store:

Wheat Day 0

Soak it in lukewarm water for 24–48 hours until it’s swollen and just beginning to sprout:

Wheat sprouting

Then layer these grains over some potting mix in a well drained tray, cover with damp newspaper, spray with water regularly and keep in the dark.

Within a couple of days (I kid you not) you’ll have real mid-winter growth:

Wheat Grass D 2

And after another couple of days of watering and covering with newspaper, it’ll look like this:

Wheat grass D 4

Now it’s time to throw off the coverings and let in the light.

Go away for the long weekend and when you return, you’ll come home to the real deal:

Wheat grass D 7

…the wire cage was to keep the blades upright, but believe it or not,
mother nature knows where the light is!

No wonder sprouting wheat seeds was such a popular pastime in primary school.

It’s ‘instant horticultural gratification’.

All that’s left to do is cut off a small clump of this vitamin- and mineral- enriched goodness, throw it into your next smoothie and charge yourself a fortune.

But if you find drinking the stuff is about as exciting as eating grass and if it spoils the flavour of the yummy banana and maple syrup, don’t panic.

Just gift it to someone who’ll be more appreciative:

Wheat Grass D 10