How to grow sprouting seeds
by Frann Leach
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This is a table of cultivation data for sprouting seeds. Although strictly speaking this is not an organic method, many organic gardeners have a taste for sprouted seeds, so I have included this table for their convenience.

Seed Method/s Daily rinses Harvest at this length Days to harvest (Amount to use)
Fridge life in days Notes
Adzuki bean Jar 4 1" 3-4 (1 cup)
3-4 cups
5 A temperature of 20ªC (70ªF) is needed for germination.
Alfalfa Jar or Outdoor 2 1-2" 3-6 (3 tbs)
4 cups
Cress Flannel or Outdoor 2 3" 10-14 (3 tbs)
4 cups
5 If growing with Mustard, sow the Mustard 3 days afterwards, so that they are ready together.
Fenugreek Tray 2 3" 4-7 (3 tbs)
4 cups
Lentil Jar 2-4 ¼-1" 3 (1 cup)
6 cups
10 Chewy. Can be eaten raw or steamed lightly
Mung (Chinese)
Weight or Jar 2 2-3" 3-6 (1 cup)
6-8 cups
Mustard Flannel or Outdoor 2 3" 7-11 (3 tbs)
4 cups
5 If growing with Cress, sow 3 days afterwards, so that they are ready together. Alternatively, use Rape instead of Cress.
Radish Jar 2 ¼-1" 2-4 (1 tblsp)
1 cup
Rape Flannel or Outdoor 2 3" 7-11 (3 tbs)
4 cups
5 Often grown with Mustard as a substitute for Cress, since they take the same time to develop. When grown outdoors, Rape can be left to grow 8-10" high for use as greens.
Soya bean Jar 4-6 1-2" 4-6 (1 cup)
4-6 cups
7 Need cooking
Sunflower Jar 2 seed length 1-3 (½ cup)
1½ cups
11 Can be lightly roasted. Bitter if grown too long.
Triticale Jar or Tray 2-3 2-3" 2-3 (1 cup)
2-3 cups
Wheat Jar 2-3 seed length 2-4 (1 cup)
3½-4 cups

Please note that you should be quite sure the seed you are using is not dressed with any growth accelerant, fungicide or other treatment, and is therefore suitable for use as a sprouting seed. The easiest way of doing this is to buy packets labelled as being suitable for use for the production of salad sprouts.

When the sprouts have reached the size required, they can be stored in a polythene bag in the fridge until you need them.

Glass jar method

You need a large clean glass jar, with no lid, a rubber band to hold the top on and a piece of material of a type that will let water through easily, without allowing the seeds to escape.

To be on the safe side, scald the jar inside and out with boiling water. Once it is cool, add the seeds and enough warm water to cover them, cover the neck with the piece of cloth, secure with the rubber band and leave for at least a couple of hours to soak, or overnight (bigger seeds need the most time). Swirl the water around to make sure all the seeds are nicely wet, then pour it away. Leave the jar on its side somewhere dark and warm, but not too hot.

Depending on the size of the seed and the warmth of the place you are using, you will need to rinse the seeds with fresh warm water from two to six times a day - the bigger the seed, the more often you need to do this. Just pour it in through the cover, swirl it around a couple of times and pour away.

'Flannel' Method

If growing mustard & cress together, sow cress 3 days before mustard. (Rape is the sprout most often found sold as "mustard & cress" in supermarkets). Sprinkle the seeds onto damp flannel or kitchen towel in a suitable container. Sow seeds thickly and evenly and press down lightly. Cover to exclude light and keep warm and moist. Remove cover when seedlings are 1½" high and move to a lighted position.

Weight Method

Used only for Mung beans (Chinese bean sprouts), and the best method, producing a superior quality sprout. Soak enough seeds to make a ½" deep layer overnight in warm water. Drain, rinse, and put into, for example, a bamboo rice steamer or a flat nylon or stainless steel sieve, cover with a damp cloth.

The amount of weight to use varies, depending on the area: Use a 2lb weight for an area 5"x5" and pro rata. Keep dark (or use tin foil to exclude light) and warm. Rinse twice daily. Harvest when sprouts are 2-3" long (3-6 days).

Outdoor method

Broadcast in small patches or intersow between March and September. Barely cover and keep moist. Cress should be sown 3 days earlier than mustard or rape. Four to five cuts may be made in succession in cool weather and moist soil. Rape can be left to grow 8-10" high for use as greens.

©2004 Frann Leach. All rights reserved.

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