Extremely sweet and tender, these shoots are gaining popularity in fine US restraunts.
They have been used for years in Europe!
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Yields approximately as weight in Greens as popcorn planted
We have grown Greens - on soil - in Trays, for years. But, we now have an alternative: A Soilless medium (Baby Blanket) and organic liquid kelp fertilizer (Kelp Fertilizer). Baby Blanket is a thin organic material that holds moisture and in general acts much like soil. We think you should try both if you can - there are differences and though they are minimal you may prefer one method over the other and the only way to know for sure is to try both.
Soil Note: Virtually any soil will do for these! We use sterile bagged composted cow manure, but any sterile bagged soil will do and should cost less than five dollars at any garden center. You can use expensive soil if you prefer - it is your choice - always!
Tray Note: Your planting tray (the one with the soil in it) MUST have drainage holes or slits! Nothing will grow in soil that can not drain - that condition is commonly called "flooded". When using Baby Blanket your planting tray must also have drainage, but we do use the drip tray to hold some water at times in the growing process.
Empty the seeds into your sprouter if necessary.
Drain off the soak water.
Rinse thoroughly with cool (60-70°) water
and Drain thoroughly.
Set anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (70° is optimal) between Rinses.
The goal is to have a small root before planting.
Note: The amount of soil you use is up to you. The reality is this: As your plants grow they need more and more water. They get their water from the soil. The more soil you use - the more water it can hold - the less you need to water.
Thoroughly moisten the soil. Allow puddles to dry.
Sometimes you may need to use your fingers to make sure the soil is moist all the way down to the bottom of the tray. Water, mix, water, mix, etc. Sometimes you don't have to do that.
The Soilless alternative.
There really is very little different about growing greens with Baby Blanket - for the most part the instructions are identical. Where there are differences they will be noted in purple text. Here are the first differences:
Prepare the pad: Cut it to fit your Tray if necessary. Soak it in water or better yet, Kelp Fertilizer enriched water (You don't NEED fertilizer for Popcorn Shoots, but we use it when we grow without soil.) until thoroughly saturated (fold it up and push it into the liquid - use a pot or something similar to hold it). Spread the wet pad accross the bottom of your Planting Tray. Proceed as with soil...
Spread seeds evenly on thoroughly moistened soil.
We use a lot of popcorn and though some literature will tell you that your seeds should not ever lay atop each other, we have found from years of experience and thousands of Trays of Greens grown that that is bunk! The thing to watch is this: If you find mold or fungal problems in your Greens then lessen the amount of seed you plant. The hotter/more humid your climate is the more of an issue the mold/fungus is. As always, you need to adapt to your own climate and seasonal conditions. And learn as you go - this is really easy and fun stuff to learn!
Cover the planted tray
with an inverted tray - to keep light out and moisture in.
Note: Your covering tray should have holes or slits in it so that some air circulation exists. Without this very minimal air flow you might encounter mold or fungal problems.
Place in a low-light, room temperature location.
(70° is always optimal)
Water lightly every day or two
the goal is to keep the seeds moist (as with any sprouts) until their roots bury themselves in the soil - at which point your goal is to keep the soil moist.
Uncover your Greens
Wait 3-4 days until your Shoots are 2-3 inches tall or until they push the covering tray up (they really will do that - it is cool!)
Note: If you want the tenderest shoots possible you should stop now. These yellow shoots are refered to as Blanched. They look really cool, don't they!? If you want to stop here skip to the Harvest step.
Every day - from the side if possible, to prevent injuring the tender shoots.
The Soilless alternative.
Baby Blanket will dry out more quickly than soil in most circumstances, so you should either water more often or experiment with our somewhat risky trick:
Use the Drip Tray to hold some water. The roots will actually sit in this, so don't go crazy - too much can drown your plants and/or lead to fungal or mold problems. Just leave as much water as the Greens can drink in a day and then add more the following day. The amount is dependant on the climate (humidity especially) you're growing in, so you'll have to learn this for yourself. We will suggest that you start with 1 cup in the Drip Tray. Lift the Planting Tray to see how much is left after 4, 8 and 12 hours. If the Drip Tray is dry add more water - if there is still water 24 hours later then cut back the next time you add water. Pretty simple really, and not as risky as we make it sound - it is really a time saver and produces happier healthier greens.
Once again, we do recommend Kelp Fertilizer enriched water for soilless growers. Soil growers may use it too of course, but the soil does have some nutrients already, so it is not nearly as important for you.
Move to a well lit location to Green your Shoots
(If you use direct sunlight (a very good idea) be prepared to do more watering). Keep it moist. Watch them grow.
Note: During the final 8-12 hours minimize the surface moisture of your Shoots - they will store best in your refrigerator if they are dry to the touch. So if you water try to keep the water off the plants - just water the soil.
Transfer your crop to a plastic bag or the sealed container of your choice - glass is good - and put them in your refrigerator.
* Note: If using Single Harvest Pack use the whole bag on our 5 inch tray (or similar).
1/4-1/3 Ccup for a 5" square Tray.
1-2 Cups for an 11" square Tray.
2-4 Cups for for an 11 inch x 22 inch Tray.
The surest way to know what amount of seed to use: Spread dry seed on the bottom of your sprouter so that the seed is spread evenly but densely.
Once again: The more densely you plant the seed the less air circulates around the individual shoots. This can cause some fungal growth - we call it fuzzies. This is not a problem, except that it is unattractive. You can usually just rinse it off when you harvest the shoots. If you hate it - increase air flow by planting less seed. Additionally, you may move your Shoots to a better ventilated area. In summer we grow our them outside (from the point when we uncover the tray) for optimal air flow.
Used for many years in European cuisine, Popcorn Shoots are rapidly gaining popularity in fine US restraunts. The shoots are amazingly sweet! They are most tender when light is withheld - this is called Blanching. Popcorn Shoots are not for everyone. They are easy to grow but their sweetness is intense. They are very cool looking and make a garnish for any dish!
to use for
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For Baby Blanket, Kelp Fertilizer, Spray Bottles and Earthworm Castings, visit our Odds & Ends page.
170 Mendell St.
San Francisco, CA 94124
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Back in 2001 we were still using the phone. One day I was talking to a long-time customer while pushing my (then 4 year old) daughter on the swing in our backyard (this is what a mom n' pop business is like on the internet). It dawned on me that my priorities were severely messed up, so I stopped using the phone. I love to talk and I love to help, but my family would never see me if I picked up the phone again, and that's just wrong don't you think?!
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