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Instant(ish) gratification gardening

At the moment, I am not in possession of large amounts of free time. We’re still unpacking (slowly) our new place. We’re in a particularly high-gear phase of wedding planning. Plus, it’s a busy time of year at work, so I’m juggling a lot of competing priorities.

But now that we have outdoor space, it has been gnawing at me that I really want to plant something. I make mental lists of what pots I need, how much potting soil to buy, and what vegetables and herbs make sense to grow.

But actually going to the garden store and getting what I need isn’t at the top of the priority list right now. And coming up with a plan that requires a lot of attention and an interminable wait for things to pop out of the ground also isn’t where I can expend my energy. Luckily, a bit of inspiration crossed my path last week, by way of a new book that I’m very much enjoying.

In The Speedy Vegetable Garden, recently published by Timber Press, Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz focus on ways to get garden-fresh flavor in record time, which is incredibly appealing to impatient gardeners everywhere, whether they’re inadvertently so or not.

Speedy Gardening

The book isn’t just about gardening. In fact, it starts with information on soaks (example: almonds, apparently, are delicious when soaked in water for 12 hours) and sprouts, which, let’s be clear, is only related in that you’re working with seeds and legumes that you might otherwise plant in the ground. But these concepts—and their quick turnaround results—intrigued me.

I’ll admit that making my own sprouts seems like the kind of thing I’d have done if I’d been my current age in, say, 1971, or if I lived in Berkeley instead of Oakland, but this book piqued my interest enough that I (gasp) ordered a sprouting bag. Made out of hemp. I will only be allowed to approach it in Birkenstocks and with (edible) flowers in my hair, but damned if this book didn’t make me curious about making sprouted chickpea hummus.

The book moves past sprouts quickly, though, into microgreens, which I’ve certainly bought, eaten, and even grown without realizing it. If only I’d known those radish sprouts planted nearly seven (!) years ago would have made a tasty salad, I probably would have just harvested and eaten them at that micro stage, ’cause they sure didn’t end up maturing the way I’d hoped.

Growing microgreens at home, though, strikes me as particularly useful for a lifestyle like ours, where having the ingredients at the ready for a lovely little salad on the fly (rather than letting already-cut greens die in the crisper) would be so convenient. And until reading this book, it had never occurred to me to put greens like fennel, coriander, and even basil (in its tiniest form) in that category.

The balance of the book focuses on more traditional gardening, but in unique ways. Edible flowers, including, again, some that I had never realized were something one might want to put in one’s mouth. Did you know daylilies were edible? Because I sure didn’t before reading this. True baby vegetables (not baby-cut carrots…you all know the secret behind baby-cut carrots, right?), which certainly make more sense to grow in a home garden than to buy at a store or even a farmers market. And lettuce that can be cut so it regrows and regrows and regrows at about the pace you need it to.

Even though I feel like I know my way around some dirt and some seeds, I liked that this book made the information new by offering me plenty of inspiration to get out there in the garden without spending a ton of time—and that’s the one commodity I don’t have a lot of right now. Those lists I’ve been making in my head have been changing ever since I first flipped through the pages of Diacono and Leendertz’s book. They’re longer lists…of shorter, smaller ideas that will still pack a home-grown punch.

Disclaimer/Disclosure: Timber Press provided me a copy of this book to review, but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed here are my own.

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