Thursday 9 April 2009


Last week we finally got around to sprouting.

Sometimes, when it will save them some work, men are able to have very good ideas. Thus, Garden Dad, in an effort to save himself some drilling, came up with the great idea of using muslin tops for the sprouting jars. As luck would have it, we did have some muslin in the cupboard, left over from mulled wine making at christmas, so we were all set.

First off, I divided the seeds and beans into different jars depending on how long they needed to soak. Some needed 5 hours, some 12 hours and the chickpeas needed 18. These are the collections we had;

Jar One; Aduki beans, Red Clover and Mustard

Jar Two; Green Lentils, Alfalfa, Broccolli

Jar Three; Chickpeas

Ultimately this didn't work very well. A lot of the smaller seeds failed to sprout, presumably because they were suffocated by the larger ones. Also the 'cress like' sprouts got tangled up and probably would have done much better in a tray. I think we also put too many seeds in each jar but, never having done this before, we had no idea how big we were expecting each to grow.

We will know better next time and keep it simple, with one variety per jar and fewer seeds in each. We will also find a suitable tray for the 'cress like' sprouts. The basic process for sprouting however, is consistent for all types, is very simple and great for children to do. And this how to do it:

STEP ONE: Put a few seeds/beans in a jar or sprouting tray. Cover with water and soak for the required length of time.
STEP TWO: Tie muslin 'lids' to the top of the jars. This allows you tip the jars upside down in order to drain the water without losing the seeds/beans. It also keeps the flies out without sealing the jars (You need to allow oxygen in).

STEP THREE: Drain the water and refill. Swirl the water around a bit to rinse the seeds/beans and then drain again.
STEP FOUR: Leave to sprout. Some require more light than others but in general a light position, without direct sunlight, should be fine. We just put all ours on the kitchen counter and left them to it. Check out the packets though and follow the instructions for light.
STEP FIVE: Rinse twice a day. This takes a couple of minutes at most, but do make sure you drain them properly otherwise they will start to rot.

STEP SIX: Two to five days later they should be ready to eat so tuck in!
Now I say 'tuck in', as if it were very simple, however we came a bit unstuck at this point because we had no idea what we could and couldn't eat. The sprout, when grown, has the seed bit, the root bit and the sprouted bit. We decided that, lacking any information, we had better stick with the sprouted bits. So, Garden Girl spent a happy hour discarding the roots and seeds, while Garden Boy spent a happy hour trying to eat them and scattering them around the house. Could we have eaten all of it? If anyone knows please let us know. The results of my internet searching found lots of sites detailing how to go about the sprouting but they all failed to tell me how to harvest them.

Although our first attempt wasn't totally successful, we did enjoy the process of sprouting. For Garden Girl there was visible growth everyday and she was able to assist with the whole process. This gave her active involvement and therefore much pride in her acheivement. She even gobbled up the stir fry Garden Dad made with the results of her hard work, though whether this was because she had grown dinner herself or because dessert was ice cream we will never know!

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