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.
So a whole hopeful bunch of us rocked up to Burnley Nursery for the Horticultured terrarium workshop with glass containers that just screamed 'put plants in me!' With the assistance of Burnley nursery technician Sascha, terrarium nut and living art expert, we were all soon assembling tiny enclosed gardens.
With some hard work and determination we created some absolute beauties.
Are you jealous yet? Well, follow us on Facebook or sign up as a member, and you'll be the first to hear about the next terrarium workshop - the first one went so well we're planning to hold another one soon! We'll keep you posted.
Sapphire is a fungal ecology expert at the Royal Botanic Gardens, an author for Fungi-Map and a passionate fungi lecturer from La Trobe University. She is also a gifted speaker and quickly had us all enthralled.
“Try to not to think like a discrete organism,” she challenged us all, before diving into her lecture. Over the next few hours she explained how complex fungi are and how integral to our world.
Ultimately, fungi are critical to ecosystem success. They create multiple connections and perform multiple jobs, and are the third largest group of species in Australia (after invertebrates and microbes). Yet we know hardly anything about them, and the vast majority of funding for research and conservation goes to plants and animals, which make up just 7 per cent of Australia’s total species.
As land managers, we should be asking, what diversity of fungi are needed for healthy, functioning environments? What are the fungi in our environments and what jobs are they doing? How can we manage the soil to take the critical functions of fungi into account?
All these revelations were hunger-making, so we feasted on pizza, some with fungi toppings, before heading out into Burnley Gardens in search of lab samples. We fossicked about, particularly near fallen trees, and found some great fungi to examine.
Thank you also to everyone who came along - we know it's a tricky time of semester for some. If you missed out or would like to learn more about fungi, we're planning to host a fungi walk in prime fungi season (Autumn) next year. Keep your eyes peeled for updates on that! In the meantime we encourage you to check out the resources on Fungi-Map; you can even get involved in a spot of crowd-sourced citizen science by submitting records of fungi you find.
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!
Read all about it: MUC Garden and Burnley Student Association share updates on their activities.