Hartley Magazine

All the latest news, hints, tips and advice from our experts

Can I grow things from my store cupboard?

If you want to have a grow with some of the things in your cupboard, there are a few things you can sow and grow now

Coriander seed may germinate

If you are not a keen gardener and don’t have your own stash of seeds to sow to stave off boredom and grow a few greens for your menus, you might be surprised to learn that there are few things you can grow. Look for seeds in your storage jars. Some may be too old to grow, but it’s always testing a few for sprouting or growing potential. Coriander is a good one to try. There are two main types, those grown for seed and those grown for the fragrant foliage, obviously your seed will grow the former but the young plants will still have the wonderful taste and smell of coriander that you love.

Dried marrowfat peas can be sown and grown

Peas! I do love pea sprouts, and last month I wrote about growing peas for sprouts. Since then I’ve been experimenting with growing peas from the cupboard. I’d got a pack of quick soak peas, which contained lots of bits of peas and some whole peas and there was a packet of marrowfat peas. So I spent some time sorting out the quick soak whole peas, putting the pea pieces into the casserole for supper and soaking the whole peas ready to sow. And guess what? I found that some of the ‘whole’ peas broke up when soaking but they still sprouted. But the winning peas were the marrowfat peas. They sprouted quickly and are in the greenhouse starting to show the beginnings of shoots. And that’s what I’m after, pea flavoured shoots, leaves and tendrils. Carefully harvested by cutting each shoot just above the bottom leaves when they are 5-10cm tall. I’ve got forests of them in the greenhouse right now, but you can grow them on the kitchen windowsill, or any windowsill.

Find the whole peas and sow them for pea shoots

You could sow and grow lemon seeds, apple seeds and even avocado stones, but you’ll have to wait a few years if you want them to fruit and they might not fruit at all.

Other seeds worth a grow are mustard seeds, or maybe you’ve got chickpeas and mung beans that could be sprouted? Sesame seeds will sprout but they are not easy to grow in our climate so probably not worth the effort. Cumin seeds will grow into an attractive plant if we get a hot summer, but again may not be more than a bit of fun. But you can grow fennel seed into plants and also although you could sow and grow poppy seeds and get a lovely crop of pretty flowers I have to warn you that its probably best to give that a miss.

Fresh food

It’s not just seeds that we eat that can be sprouted, sown or grown now. Have a look in the fridge, or veg rack. What have you got lurking at the back that might actually grow if you planted it? You know that garlic can start sprouting if you’ve kept if for weeks. Well you can plant it in a pot in the garden. Separate the cloves and plant one per small to medium pot, with the tip just showing above the level the soil or compost. They might not grow into a plump bulb with separate cloves (you need to plant them earlier for that) but they should bulk up into a larger clove for use later in the year.

You can plant garlic outside now and ginger in a greenhouse

I’ve got a couple of shriveled ginger tubers that are trying to sprout. I always mean to plant them as I LOVE ginger and I know I can grow it in my greenhouse. And of course it’s really good for you too. So I’m going to have a go with those. They will need a greenhouse or conservatory to keep them frost-free.

Have you got any chilli peppers? When you use them save the seeds, you can sow them now and you might get a crop of plants. Tomatoes are another one where you can save the seeds. Soak them for 2-3 days in water to dissolve the gelatinous layer that protects the seed, spread them out on a piece of kitchen towel and you can sow them once they’ve dried out, but really you need a greenhouse to grow them on, so don’t bother if you don’t have one.

What about carrot tops? Of course you know you can grow them – it’s a fun project for the kids, but did you know that the flowers are an excellent source of nectar and pollen for bees and other pollinators? And if you ‘plant’ them in a pot of compost now, though you won’t get more carrots you will grow some bee food if you put them outside to flower this summer.