Grow Your Own Garden Sprouts

About how to grow your own garden vegetables, in this case sprouts, proper care and varieties.

Growing Food in the City


Sprouts are the easiest "crop" to grow, and the one that requires the least space. Any edible seed that produces a nonpoisonous plant (tomato and potato leaves and stalks are poisonous) can be sprouted. Usable seeds include grains, legumes, nuts, and vegetables. A sprout is a seed in the beginning stages of germination which would go on to produce a whole new plant if it were not eaten. The sprouting process releases nutrients stored in the seed for the dormant plant embryo. Sprouts contain high concentrations of vital minerals, vitamins, and proteins needed for sustaining life in any living organism, be it a plant or a human being. They are an excellent food.

The basic process for producing sprouts is simple. Soak seeds for 6 to 12 hours, drain, then place in a well-ventilated container in a dark, warm place. An acceptable container is a wide-mouthed jar covered with cheesecloth or nylon netting secured by a rubber band or string. The seeds should be rinsed and drained 2 to 4 times daily. Seeds can also be successfully sprouted between layers of moistened paper towels lying on a draining rack placed in a glass or metal pan. They should be sprinkled lightly twice daily and the upper layer of paper towels should be resoaked and squeezed out before it is replaced. No matter what method is used, sprouting seeds should be kept moist but not wet, and in a dark place. When they are ready, which takes between 2 and 5 days, they should be drained thoroughly and refrigerated. Leafy sprouts should be left out in the light for a few hours to increase the vitamin content before they are refrigerated.

Perhaps the most popular sprout is that which is germinated from the mung bean. These are the long crunchy sprouts used in Chinese cooking. Easy to sprout, they are ready in 3 to 5 days and can be added to just about any dish you can think of. Another versatile and highly nutritious sprout grows from the tiny alfalfa seed. The sprouts are ready in 2 to 4 days and can be used raw in salads and sandwiches instead of lettuce. They are also good cooked. After you have sprouted these 2 almost foolproof seeds, try something a little more exotic. Always be sure to use "seed-quality" rather than "food-quality" seeds; the latter are sometimes dead and won't sprout. Also make sure you use only untreated sprouts to avoid the poisons which are sometimes added to seeds to reduce field planting losses. Your best bet is to buy seeds for sprouting at a reliable health food store.

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