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Some weeks back, the sis shared some pictures on WhatsApp. She was successfully growing micro-greens – without soil and in a tray – and thought I’d be interested too. Her plants looked quite lush, and the process according to her, was simple and straightforward. Why not, I thought to myself. This was the sort of cultivation that even someone like me, with a bad back, could do.

All I needed to start microgreen ‘cultivation’ in my home was a shallow bowl or tray, some tissue paper, any dried beans of my choice, and water. Soak the dried beans overnight, layer the tissue paper in the tray/bowl, and spread the soaked beans on them, and sprinkle water on them thrice a day till they are ready to be harvested. Easy peasy.

I had visions of trays/shallow bowls filled with lushly growing microgreens, with me ‘harvesting’ them to make thoran, or adding them to salads and lentil preparations, or even omelets. I could almost hear the L&M’s appreciation. The house help would be so impressed that she would tell the neighbors, and would also start ‘micro-greening’ in her own home. I felt like an angel about to spread good cheer to all.

One day, after many days of forgetting about it, I suddenly woke up and decided to soak some green gram. Twenty four hours later, very excited, and after much deliberations with the L&M on which tray/bowl to choose, I layered the chosen one with tissue paper, and spread the soaked beans on it. Morning, noon and evening I sprinkled water on it religiously and waited impatiently for them to grow.

The green grams I’d ‘sown’ seemed lazy buggers. They were all asleep when I checked on them the first day. And what’s this? There were fruit flies swarming around them, not to mention a lizard which was eyeing the open dish slyly. This won’t do. Unlike the much drier Oman where my sister stays, this is humid Kerala, where fruit flies abound during the monsoon season. Lizards too are aplenty.

I went to the L&M with a request for a piece of net to cover the bowl. He, as the Keeper of Sundry Odds and Ends of our home (and also the Keeper of Everything Important) can be depended upon to have all sorts of things in his kitty. Sure enough, he found a piece of netting and I covered my plants in a ‘misty veil’ as protection against flies and lizards.

The next day a few of them beans had deigned to raise their heads lazily. This was not how it should have been. After all the pictures the sis had shared were of them on the second and third days of growth, and every single one of them had sprouted, with pretty green young leaves on their crowns.

I couldn’t fathom what was wrong. It must be the incessant rains and the absolutely gray days. There had been no sign of the sun for days together and everyone knows plants need sunlight, at least the little bit streaming in through the window. A few of them grew valiantly, breaking the stereotype. Who needs sunlight? We can grown indoors when it is the rainy season too. But WHAT could I make with a few um… three or four of them two inch high plants, to be exact? I threw them out and decided to try again when the sun came out for good.

The sun did come out a week later, and shone for a couple of days when I thought, ‘Now is the time!’ This time I chose a different and smaller bowl, being no longer as ambitious as the first time. I eyed the beans closely the next day. Hmm.. They seemed to be on their way to growing, and my stomach eventually. But the L&M, always a man in a hurry, sent the bowl flying when he picked up something next to it and the net got tangled up with it. Half of the beans were lost, the other half displaced on their tissue bed. They refused to grow any more.

I was not about to give up. The visions still played strong in my mind. With hope in my heart, the third batch was spread on their tissue layered bed. As luck would have it, it started raining the very next day. The sun went missing for almost a week thereafter. The rebels among the beans grew unmindful of the unfavorable conditions, but they were like a five percent of the lot. They wouldn’t do justice to the space on a teaspoon.

Enough was enough. I was done with micro-green cultivation. I decided to get back to my farm on Facebook. Virtual farming, though it didn’t fill one’s stomach, had its own benefits, and not being dependent on seasons, was way more satisfying. 😉

© Shail Mohan 2020