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SPROUTING GUIDE
Frances Michaels

Sprouting is an easy way to add essential vitamins and enzymes to your diet. Other advantages to doing your own sprouting:
  • It is simple and quick; only very basic equipment is needed.
  • There is a wide choice of taste sensations; sprouts are usually eaten raw but some (lentils, soybeans, chickpeas) require light steaming.
  • Commercial sprouts do not always use organic seed, so growing your own gives you that chance to increase your organic consumption.
  • It takes very little space in the kitchen and allows you to grow some of your food without actually needing a garden.
  • It is very economical, sprouts can multiply by up to 15 times their weight.
  • It allows you to reduce your food miles by supporting your local grower - you!
Sprouting is all about providing the right conditions for seed to germinate. In a sense it is 'bench top organic vegetable gardening'.

Steps to Successful Sprouting
  • Sprouts can be produced all year round but keep in mind that the same rules apply as for successful seed germination in the garden. Just like all other seed, sprouting seed has a temperature range that is best for germination. Avoid very hot or cold periods; temperatures between 20C - 28C work best. In winter a heated propagator tray can be helpful.

  • Wash the seeds well in fresh water before soaking. Float off any leaf or twig debris. Small seeds that float off are usually not viable. The exception is onion which has to be encouraged to sink.

  • Soak the seeds for the correct time; do not over or under soak. Over-soaking can kill your sprouts. Good aeration with a plentiful supply of oxygen gives life to the seed, so avoid soaking too much seed at a time and then overcrowding it in the sprouter. Never put the sprouting jar or bag flat to a surface where air cannot reach the seeds; all living things need to breathe. Poor drainage will also cause the seed to rot.

  • Rinse at least twice a day. During hotter weather, rinse more often. Thorough rinsing is important as the water provides the moisture needed to activate growth, it also flushes away waste products and re-oxygenates the seed, but be gentle. If you can’t be at home on hot days, refrigerate the sprouts until you get back. Under-rinsing will cause the seeds to shrivel and die, as will hot, direct sunlight. If seeds start to dry out, soak briefly and then drain well.

  • Only start sprouts if you are available to look after them for the next 3 - 5 days.

  • To produce green, leafy sprouts, daylight is important but always avoid direct sunlight. A kitchen bench is ideal for access to the sink for rinsing but windows need to provide sufficient light.

  • Once the sprouts are ready, store them in the fridge. Washing well first in a bowl of water will separate unsprouted seeds and some of the seed coats. This is particularly important with harder seeds such as mung beans. The hard seeds will stay on the bottom of the bowl allowing the sprouts to be scooped off the top. Sprouts store best when well drained, even dry to touch, in a container that breathes. They will go slimy pretty quickly in a plastic bag. Rinsing every few days and draining well will prolong their storage life.

  • Any soaked seed or sprouts that are even slightly mouldy should be discarded.
Safety tips: Use only organically certified or untreated seed. Avoid seed that may have been fumigated or treated with a fungicide.

Different Types of Growing Containers
Different seeds need different growing methods to be successful.

Trays
Tray sprouters are flat with drainage holes. They allow leafy sprouts to grow straight up and receive maximum light. They can be as simple as using a seedling tray or be a multi-level sprouter with a lid and drainage tray. Multi-level tray sprouters make it easy to produce a continuous supply of sprouts, by starting an additional tray every few days. They are particularly useful for sprouts where the seed hulls are hardy and too chewy to eat and where just the green tops and stems are harvested, by cutting off with scissors. This group includes delicious sprouts like buckwheat and sunflower, and most of the grain sprouts like wheatgrass, barley and oats.

Jars
To make your own jar sprouter choose a large glass jar with a wide, straight neck. Flywire or cheesecloth and a rubber band provide the lid. The covering needs to allow sufficient drainage and aeration, or mouldy sprouts will result. The jar sprouter works well as it comes with a built-in drainage stand. It is particularly important not to overcrowd the seeds in jar sprouters.

Dome Sprouters
The multi-level dome sprouter suits a wide range of seeds and makes it easy to produce a continuous supply of sprouts, as you can add additional levels every few days.

Automatic Sprouters
Electric tray sprouters are available and worth considering if your time is limited for giving the sprouts enough rinsing etc.

Sprouting Bags
The Hemp Sprout Bag is durable, naturally mould-resistant and will last for years. It is best for growing hulled grains and beans such as mung, lentils, peas, chickpeas, adzuki, soft wheat sprouts, rye, or barley. The bags hang up to save on bench space.

Hint: Only mix sprouting seeds together that have a similar growing time and requirements.

Microgreens, salad mix, mesclun and baby leaf are new terms for many gardeners. So what are they and are they worth growing in the home garden?

You can find Microgreens Growing Information here.

You can find Salad Mix Growing Information here.

Sprouting in a Jar, Bag or Dome Sprouter

Seed Type Soaking Time Quantity of Seed Rinses per day Yield Days to Harvest
Alfalfa Wash seed then soak 3 - 6 hours 1.5 tbsp 2 - 3 1 cups 3 - 5
Broccoli Wash seed then soak 4 - 8 hours 2 - 3
Avoid seeds clumping
1 - 1 cups 3 - 6
Buckwheat Wash seed then soak 20 - 30 minutes 1 cup Twice a day 1 - 2 cups 24 - 48 hours
Chickpea Wash seed then soak 8 - 12 hours 1 cup 3 - 4 2 - 3 cups 2 - 4
Fenugreek Wash seed then soak 8 - 10 hours 1.5 tbsp 1 cups 2 - 5
Lentil Wash seed then soak 5 - 12 hours 2 - 3 1 - 1 cups
Wash off hulls & remove hard seeds that have not sprouted on final rinse
4
Mung Bean Wash seed then soak in warm water  6 - 12 hours 4 - 5
Mustard Wash seed then soak 8 hours 2 - 3
Avoid seeds clumping
3 - 6
Onion Wash seed then soak 8 - 12 hours 2 - 3 tbsp 2 - 3 10 - 12
Quinoa Wash seed then soak 20 - 30 minutes ⅔ cup 3 1 cups 24 - 48 hours
Radish and Daikon Wash seed then soak 6 - 12 hours 1.5 tbsp 2 - 3
Avoid seeds clumping
1 - 1 cups
Wash off hulls on final rinse
3 - 6
Red Cabbage Wash seed then soak 4 - 8 hours 1 - 1 cups
Soybean Wash seed then soak 15 - 24 hours 1 cup 3 - 5 3 - 4 cups 3 - 5

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