Sprouts are really easy to grow and extremely nutritious. Growing them yourself is much cheaper than buying them, comes with less packaging and means they will be super fresh and delicious!
You can sprout lots of seeds (see table below for ideas) and although soaking times and rinses may vary, the general principles are the same:
You can make your own sprouter from a jar, a rubber band and some muslin.
- The Source Bulk Foods
- NSW (Victoria St, Brunswick)
- Or of course, you could save your own seeds form your garden
A little bit about the teas that we grow:
Lemon balm is a feel-good plant, and not just because it is bee-friendly: the tea made from the fresh leaves of lemon balm is said to relieve fatigue and headaches and make you feel happy. Lemon balm is a perennial plant that grows to about 50cm. It will grow well in a well-drained spot in part shade to full sun, and needs to be watered in summer. Cut it back to the ground after flowering to encourage fresh, new growth. Lemon balm can be easily propagated from seed, division or cutting.
Lemon Verbena leaves make an absolutely delicious tea and the flowers and foliage are beautifully scented. The plant is a deciduous shrub that grows to about 2m, and should be pruned after flowering to stop it from becoming leggy. It likes a sunny spot, either in the ground or a pot, with well-drained soil and regular watering. Lemon Verbena is killed by frost so make sure it is somewhere protected if you live in a frost-prone area. It can be propagated from cuttings taken in summer.
There are two types of chamomile, perennial and German; the latter is most commonly used for making tea. German Chamomile is an annual and is easiest to grow from a seedling the first time, but if you leave a few flowers on the plant, you will find that the seeds from those flowers will come up on their own the next year. Chamomile likes a sunny spot, and will grow well in pots if regularly watered. Cut off the flowers when they are opening and use fresh or dried to make a very soothing and yummy tea (one teaspoon per person).
Ginger tea is great for calming an upset stomach and the plant has attractive, tropical foliage. It is a little out of its range in Melbourne, but can do well in a sheltered, warm spot if given plenty of water. Plant it in spring, then harvest the whole plant in autumn. Use slices of the rhizome (root tuber) for making tea, and save a bit to plant again in the next spring.
Peppermint tea is a classic herbal tea that is said to help with digestion and reduce nausea. It is very easy to grow, so much so that it might start to take over your garden - we recommend growing it in a pot. Peppermint grows well in a semi-shaded, moist location - under a tap or near a dripping gutter are often good spots. If it starts to look tatty, simply cut the stems back to the ground and new, fresh growth will soon appear. There are many different mints available, including Apple Mint, Chocolate Mint, Spearmint and a native Australian River Mint.
Other plants to try
Use a pot or infuser to brew your homegrown loose-leaf tea. Simply pour hot water (add a dash of cold water to the kettle after it has boiled) to the tea and let it steep for 5 minutes.
You can mix herbs together to make delicious blends, using your imagination or these combinations:
Happy Tea - Lemon balm and chamomile
Cold remedy - Sage, thyme, rosemary, lemon balm and mint with a big spoonful of honey
Lemongrass refresher - Lemongrass and ginger
Sage refresher - Sage and ginger
Sweet mint - Peppermint and licorice root
Click here to download this information in as a PDF.
We know that MUC garden has innumerable benefits, but recording these allows us to quantify them and really see the impact that it has on the environment and the community. We also hope that recording this data will make it easier for future community gardens to get established by raising awareness of their positive impacts.
Anyone can access our data, by visiting the 'Mill'.
1. Access the Farming Concrete website via this link.
2. Scroll down to "DOWNLOAD DATA'
3. In the 'Groups' box select 'Melbourne Uni Community Gardens.
Once you've made an account, follow these instructions:
A healthy soil is full of life: worms, nematodes, microbes and so much more.
Soils are made up of sand (big particles), silt (middle sized particles) and clay (tiny particles).
The sun came out for our relaxed herbal tea growing workshop in the garden. After introductions and a quick garden tour, Pippa gave a talk on which are the best species to grow for tea in Melbourne, and demonstrated how to propagate them from the plants we have in the garden.
All the plants that we propagated will spend the next few weeks of their lives in our little greenhouse on campus, where they will be irrigated and fertilised regularly. Workshop participants are welcome to come and pick them up any time, and any leftovers will be put back into the garden and/or sold at our next farmers market on September 23rd.
As always, we did a bit of compost maintenance. We placed the finished compost into our perennial edibles bed and planted pansies into it (sorry, no picture!). They will look beautiful and are also edible! A few of these on top of a salad make it look much more exciting.
We learned that mint varieties and lemon balm are really easy to grow from cuttings: just chop a 5cm portion of the underground section with roots and stick it in a pot. We also propagated ginger and lemongrass, which can do well in Melbourne in a sunny, sheltered position, as well as German chamomile which is tricky to grow from seed, but we gave it a try anyway!
As well as propagating new plants, we put some new spearmint and sage seedlings into our herb spiral. They will be used to make tea later on when they are ready - please come and pick some and try it out!
To reduce smell and the likelihood of attracting pests, we only use enclosed compost bins. We try and make sure nothing too smelly ends up in the bins, which we'll get into in a minute! We also have to be very diligent about ensuring that enough carbon rich materials are added to the compost to balance out the large amounts of smelly nitrogen rich materials (i.e. the veggies and fruits). We do this by adding leaves, cardboard and more recently, coffee chaff! See our earlier post for info on how we source our coffee chaff and how awesomely sustainable it is.
Composting is such a rewarding thing to do, and we're glad we can produce this nutrient rich product right in the middle of our campus.
From 12–2pm, we had two massive groups turn up for the herb planting workshops, around forty people altogether. The sessions were overbooked and hugely popular. Participants were treated to a demo planting of a mini herb garden, and then given a pot to play around with to try transplanting seedlings. At the end they could take home their very own herb starter garden!
We had a great selection of herbs available and covered a few bases for most users. Workshop participants were given pamphlets describing the herbs and their culinary uses. Parsley, marjoram and chives were popular, and the Zataar also gained lots of interest, so we foresee there will be middle-eastern cooking nights coming up! Catnip was also a favourite.
Thanks to Pete, Julianna and Bec for running the workshop and giving great propagating advice!
P.S. There's going to be an amazing panel on Greening Cities for Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation at Burnley. Maybe we'll see you there!
After a bit of discussion at the start about how many of what we should plant, and into what size pots (there are surprisingly many to choose from), the potting shed turned into a well-oiled planting machine. There were labels to be made (a critical and often neglected step of planting – how many times have you ended up with fifty mystery tomatoes, and only one capsicum?), punnets to be filled with seed raising mix (finer than regular potting soil, and with a bit less fertiliser), holes to be made with super-special dibblers (aka chopsticks) and seeds to be carefully dropped in and covered with a fine dusting of soil. Finally, all the trays had to be watered in gently ‘like rain’, so as not to disturb the seeds.
We’ll keep you updated on their progress! Eventually they will need to be re-planted into bigger pots and moved to a brighter and less humid greenhouse to keep growing, so if you couldn’t make it this times, don't worry, you didn’t miss out on all the fun.
Because of the good turnout, we finished the seed planting early and had a bit of time to wander down to the Horticultured Community Gardens. We did some weeding (as always), put down more tanbark to keep the weeds down, installed a sign, AND DISCOVERED ASPARAGUS GROWING. Some of it was unintentionally blanched under a thick pile of mulch, but look at those big fat beauties!
And, as always, we turned the compost. But this time there was a change in the air: we've got a new source of carbon to balance out the nitrogen in all the kitchen scraps. We have three bulging bags of sweet-smelling coffee chaff, delivered completely for free by Allpress Espresso, who hate chucking this waste product from coffee roasting in the bin. We love using coffee chaff, because it is a local, organic waste product which breaks down quickly and smells dreamy (kind of like toffee or slightly over-cooked biscuits). As an added bonus, it is free and we are trying to work out a way to return the bags to Allpress so that it is also packaging-free. We think this is a much better carbon source than shrink-wrapped sugar cane mulch which has been trucked in from Queensland. If you'd like some coffee chaff for your compost at home, you can come and grab some of ours or go straight to Allpress. Or, why not ask your local coffee roaster? You shouldn't have trouble finding one - they are pretty much on every corner in Melbourne!
Read all about it: MUC Garden and Burnley Student Association share updates on their activities.