How can I grow food without a garden?

Although the logo for Enrichmentality is a sprouting seed, symbolising the growth of new ideas and a better outlook on life, I am a terrible gardener.

I began this blog over five months ago with an anecdote about my failure to grow a money tree from planting my pocket money as a child. It should come as no surprise, then, to know that I’m also a failed gardener when it comes to growing actual plants from seed too!

I never managed to grow vegetables when we had a yard, but living in a small apartment with no balcony or external window sills posed a particular challenge.

Little did I know that I would actually be more successful in growing edible plants in this environment!

We’re almost a fortnight in to the new year, and I’ve been reading Rhonda Hazel’s beautiful book, The Simple Home, which has projects to enrich your life for each month of the year. One of these is food gardening – and Rhonda’s advice is to ‘start small’:

‘if you’ve never grown anything before and have to start from scratch, often it doesn’t make financial sense, or you just can’t afford it. You might have to buy soil or enrich virgin soil, build raised beds or fences, and buy seeds and seedlings as well as the tools to work the soil. You might spend much more on setting up than you could save on vegetables. When you spread the set-up costs over a few years it makes more sense, but if you can’t afford the set-up costs of a large garden or prefer to garden on a smaller scale, what are the alternatives? I’m the last person to tell you not to grow vegetables, but I will advise you to start small.’

If you don’t have a plot of soil, potted herbs are often suggested as an alternative. Sadly, I managed to quickly kill the lovely basil I received from a friend as a housewarming present. Our apartment’s lack of appropriate sunlight, and our frequent absences due to travel made keeping any living thing alive difficult.

It was shortly after this addition of yet another empty pot to my collection that I hit upon an alternative project – one which doesn’t require direct sunlight and is appropriately short-term for someone like me: sprouting!

Get sprouting!

I quite enjoy sprouts but don’t often buy them from the supermarket because, compared to other alternatives, they aren’t as nutritious, filling or flavourful, and per kilo, they cost quite a lot more than most vegetables. I was also quite put off ordering dishes with sprouts in them at restaurants after seeing quite a few deliveries of plastic bagged sprouts left on restaurant doorsteps long before opening hours.

Yet sprouts can be a delicious, healthy and crunchy addition to salads, sandwiches and stir-fries, and the ones you grow at home can be even better than the ones you buy – you know they’ve been grown in contaminant-free water, and they have a distinct, fresh flavour in comparison to the occasionally sludgy supermarket-bought variety. That being said, it is absolutely vital to ensure that you grow your sprouts in a hygienic environment – commercially grown sprouts have been associated with harmful bacteria outbreaks, and as with all legumes, you should not over-consume them.

Save money

A punnet of sprouts costs around $2 or so a pop, but after spending less than $3 total on dried beans – garbanzo, baby lima, and mung, we were able to very quickly offset the initial outlay. From then on in, it’s like having free food.

All of the ‘equipment’ needed for sprouting is essentially free – reuse a glass jar, cut up an old pair of stockings or other suitable cloth (make sure it is washed and then sterilize with boiling water before use), and secure with a recycled rubber band from your most recent supermarket purchase.

It’s easy!

Simply choose a type of sprout (or several), soak the seeds in a jar overnight, drain and rinse 2-3 times a day, and once they’ve sprouted, enjoy in salads, sandwiches, soups or stir-fries!

SproutsPinableGet started sprouting with this how-to guide

Find recipes using sprouts

Have you had any success with gardening? What do you like to grow and does it save money – or are there other advantages? Please share in the comments below!

If you enjoy #Enrichmentality please share it!

Happy Friday 13th!

Today’s featured image is a photo of some of the first beans I sprouted several years ago – delicious!

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