I am so excited to share this guest post about sprouting (which is a container garden of sorts…) by Phil Nauta. He is a SOUL Certified Organic Land Care Professional and author of the book Building Soils Naturally, coming out in Spring 2012. He has taught for Gaia College and been a director for The Society For Organic Urban Land Care. He was an organic landscaper and ran an organic fertilizer business before teaching innovative organic gardening methods at SmilingGardener.com.
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In 2005, I started intensively studying organic gardening. That process inspired me to leave behind my junk food habit and seek a healthier lifestyle. I learned to grow my own food and I discovered sprouts, one of the most nutrient-dense foods you’ll ever eat. Since then, I’ve been sprouting year round, and especially in the winter when fresh food is not plentiful.
Sprouting is super easy, takes 2 minutes each day and saves a lot of money over buying them from the grocery store. Plus, it’s incredibly fun to see the process of how seeds become plants.
Here’s how to do it:
1. Buy your seeds. You may find them in smaller packages at a grocery store, but I buy them in bulk online from Mumm’s. Go for organic if you can. I generally stick to the seeds that are most versatile and simplest to grow – clover and alfalfa. Avoid alfalfa if you have arthritis or inflammation issues.
2. Get a container. A mason jar works well. Since I sprout a lot, I’ve found using specialized containers such as EasySprout and Sproutmaster are timesavers and grow nicer sprouts, but a mason jar is just fine.
3. Put the seeds in your container and add water to amply cover them. For bonus points, add a touch of liquid kelp or sea minerals for micronutrients. Soak for 4-6 hours, although if you forget them overnight, you’ll still be okay.
4. After soaking, drain the water off. Spread the seeds out in the container so that they have room to breathe and grow. If you’re using a jar, an excellent strategy is to cover the mouth with mesh or cheesecloth, secure it with an elastic, and set the jar upside down at an angle, with something under it to collect any water that drains off.
5. Rinse and drain the sprouts 1-2 times daily, with room temperature water. After rinsing, always make sure the sprouts are spread out a bit (a fork helps) and that you drain off all the excess water. If you can remember this rinsing step, you’ll be successful at this.
6. After a couple of days, once the seeds have sprouted tails, put them in sunlight for 2-5 days. They will green up. Every time you rinse, you’ll find you can rinse out some of the hulls. This isn’t necessary, but just makes your sprouts a bit tastier. This rinsing gets easier after a few days when they’re close to being ready.
7. You can now start eating them. I use them in sandwiches, salads and smoothies. Store them in your sprouter and continue to rinse them daily until you finish eating them. They will keep growing as you remove some to eat, since they have more space. You can also store them in a breathable container in the fridge for 7-10 days. Be sure they aren’t wet when you put them in the fridge or they may rot.
And that’s all there is to it. Any questions? Any tips to add?