Gardening's supposed to be relaxing. I must admit, although it's my number one interest and I adore it to the exclusion of almost everything else, I wouldn't exactly describe it that way. Perhaps that's because I'm "digging for victory" or, put in more contemporary language, "trying to live out of my vegetable garden", and that includes raising all my own seedlings.

microgreensIt's the weather that's the problem – and the seasons. You just can't tell which way the barometer is going to swing. Should spring decide to arrive early, it's so easy to be caught without a supply of seedlings and to find yourself rushing off to the garden centre to part with your precious dollars. If winter hangs around longer that expected, what do you do with pot after pot of root-bound broccoli seedlings?

One of the best answers I've come up with, is to grow micro greens (and I include mesclun mixes in these because, grown indoors, they perform in the same way), and seeds for sprouting. I know these miniature nibbly little things just don't cut the mustard (no pun intended) for we gardeners who like to grow "real vegetables", outdoors in "real" gardens, but gosh, these wee plants can come in handy, and not just squashed inside a salad sandwich.

Right now, my sunniest window ledge is packed with them and, they include a whole range of regular vegetables from lettuces and silver beet to peas and brassicas. The sprouting seeds are onion, red cabbage, broccoli, and pea. Although designed to be eaten when just a couple of centimetres high, these little plants will all quite happily grow on into regular sized vegetables if left to their own devices.

So (she says, rubbing her hands with glee) if the weather stays cold and nasty, I'll snip the little critters and eat them as the packet instructions advise. But (and I have my fingers crossed) if we get a sudden burst of sunshine and warm days, I'll let them grow on and then transplant them directly into the glass house. Or even outside, under plastic, if spring looks set to arrive early. If the weather takes a turn for the worse and winter decides to stick around, I might pot up a few into individual containers to spur them on ready for planting outdoors a little later. Either way, I can't lose – and isn't that exactly what you want when you're a vegetable gardener!

Tip: Kings Seeds catalogue devotes a special section to microgreens and seeds for sprouting, and their collection of mesclun mixes is second to none. Select carefully to find a mix which best suits your outdoor seedling requirements.

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