By: Mike Passanita, Executive Chef, Saint Francis University
I have always enjoyed growing any type of plant and growing sprouts gives me something besides houseplants to grow indoors while I’m waiting for seed starting time and there is no easier way to grow fresh food indoors.
A close second to sprouts is growing micro-greens. You are basically growing greens, herbs, and lettuces to harvest when
they are still tiny (but bigger than sprouts). They are easy to grow and look great as a garnish on a plate and you get a quick harvest, it usually takes 5 to 8 days to grow micro greens and little less just for sprouts.
The micro-greens I am growing are a spicy mix of Diakon radish, arugula and cress. The cost of this mix is $9.95 a pound. I start by measuring a cup of the seed mixture and soaking it over night in water to give them a quick start. You can purchase your seed from various sources pretty easily, I used http://sproutpeople.org.
I bought the SproutMaster 8×10 stack-able sprouting container and the soil-less growing medium called baby blanket.
I bought a bulk roll of the baby blanket soil-less growing medium and just cut it to the size of the growing containers. After you have soaked your seeds overnight just simply pour the soaked seeds onto the growing medium lined sprouting container and cover with the lids provided. Keep the seed covered for the first couple of days making sure you rinse the seeds daily with cool water and spray with an organic fertilizer. I use SeaCom – organic seaweed concentrate.
About the third day you will want to uncover your sprouts and put them in a sunny window to start greening and growing into your micro greens. You want to make sure that it is not to hot, but sunny enough to help the plants to green.
You can mix several greens and lettuces to make your own micro greens mix. The easiest way is to buy a prepackaged seed mix of micro-greens or mesclun. Usually, they are labeled as “spicy,” “sweet,” or “mild.” By trying them out this way, it’s easy to learn what you like and you can eventually start making your own custom mixes based on your taste.
The yield you get is usually about the same weight as the seeds that you sprout. So if you take this advice from Sprout People you will do just fine growing your own healthy and fun food!
The Basics of Sprouting:
- Seed Storage: Keeping your dormant seeds happy.
- Soaking: Turning a dormant seed into a nutritional powerhouse.
- Rinsing: Water is the key ingredient in sprouts. Use it liberally.
- Draining: It is essential that sprouts be drained thoroughly after rinsing. Sitting in a puddle is the most common cause of crop failure.
- Air Circulation: If your sprouts can’t breathe while growing – they can die. Don’t put them in a closed cabinet.
- Greening: Photosynthesis is cool, and so is Chlorophyll, but not all sprouts are into it, nor is it necessary. Sprouts of all colors are packed with flavor and nutrition!
- Cleanliness: Your seed should be clean and your sprouting device should be sterile. Wash your sprouter well between crops. Sterilize when necessary.
- Storage: Properly stored, fresh sprouts will keep for up to 6 weeks in your refrigerator, but fresher is better. Never refrigerate wet sprouts.