The experts at The Greenhouse People are on hand to give their top tips for growing your own plant-based protein...
Carbon emissions are on the rise and as of July 29th this year we’d already consumed all of the Earth’s natural resources for 2019. Growing some of your own produce is one of the best ways to reduce your carbon footprint and if you’re making the switch to a plant-based diet then why not give those green fingers a flex?
GREEN AND LEAFY
Protein-rich leafy veg are a great alternative to carbs like tortilla wraps or dipping chips. Both kale and spinach grow well in mild climates and are at their best when allowed to mature in cool temperatures. Start spring seeds indoors or in a greenhouse about six weeks before the last frost and transfer outdoors once temperatures heat up. Keep in partial shade, water often and you could be enjoying a bountiful crop in 30–40 days.
Unrefined grains are another overlooked source of plant-based protein. Quinoa has been grown and eaten for thousands of years around the world and can be easily grown in the UK. Sow in April and harvest the colourful seed heads in early autumn. Amaranth is another great grain – the leaves can be eaten raw in salads or cooked like spinach, while the seeds can be popped like corn or added to soups and stews.
Seeds are one of the best sources of plant- based protein and some seeds are found in plants you might already grow such as pumpkins or sunflowers. Just sprinkle some chia or flax seeds on a weed-free and well-mulched area of your garden. Water well, but when seed heads appear, stop until they ripen and turn golden yellow before pulling up the plants and hanging them to dry out.
For the gardener up to the challenge, growing your own nuts is a great way to save money and up your protein intake. Hazelnuts can be expensive to buy from supermarkets but thankfully, they’re suitable for garden growing. Start your hazelnuts in a pot and transfer to the ground during winter, digging a hole large and deep enough to comfortably accommodate the roots. Remove any weeds and vegetation in the surrounding soil and mulch well. Keep well-hydrated during the first year, then your hazelnut tree will be low maintenance.
Peas, a protein-rich legume, are an easy and reliable crop and an ideal way to introduce children to growing their own. For a higher chance of success, plant seedlings indoors and transfer them outside once the soil warms up. Pea plants like a moist, fertile and well- drained soil. Avoid using nitrogen-rich fertilisers, as this will cause leafy growth as opposed to producing pea pods. Peas taste incredibly sweet picked about three weeks after the flowers appear and can be cooked up into dishes like risotto.
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