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Sprout Your Way to Better Health

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Not all of us can be gardeners

Not all of us can be gardeners. But we all eat. Fact is. if you don't grow your, own, someone has to do it for you. It's also a fact that we don't all have the time or means to garden. Here's where indoor gardening comes in.

Imagine a new harvest of fresh baby greens right in your own kitchen. No tools, garden equipment, bugs or weather to worry about and no dirt! Half a kilogram of indoor lettuce takes up just 25 centimetres of counter-top space and one actual minute of care per day. Just dip and set. Light is no problem either. Normal daylight is all you need. For such little effort, the possibilities are magnificent. There are over 30 delicious varieties of fresh, nutritious indoor greens and baby vegetables like alfalfa greens, soy sprouts and green peas enough to feed the whole family.

Create Your Own Sprouter

Gather your high germination sprouting seeds, a one or half litre jar and obtain or devise your own vertical sprouter. You can make your own indoor vegetable kit or vertical sprouter using a plastic colander or a natural bamboo basket. Make sure the openings in the basket are small enough to prevent the leakage of tiny seeds. If using bamboo, choose an unpeeled fibre. The skin of the bamboo acts like a natural lacquer resisting the absorption of water. This results in better resistance to fungus growth. Choose a basket that has five centimetre sidewalls.

Baskets are made from many different fibres. Bamboo is best.

A greenhouse can be made from anything that will hold in moisture and heat while allowing light penetration and air circulation. Even a simple plastic bag will do. House your colander inside a plastic tent. Elevate the colander so it doesn't touch the floor or the walls for best air circulation. Good air circulation resists mold and fungus growth.

First wash all your baskets by boiling them for only three minutes in hot water. Boiling sterilizes the natural fibres which are untreated, unfumigated and unshellacked. Rinse your seeds clean too. These special organically grown and chemical-free seeds may contain small amounts of soil or foreign matter. Rinse well and, if necessary, pick clean.

Open a package of seeds (clover is good for beginners) and pour five rounded tablespoons into a clean half litre jar; fill three quarters of the jar with pure, cold water. Stir, then let sit for six to eight hours or overnight.

After soaking, pour the seeds directly into the 20 centimetre basket. Rinse them clean with your kitchen sprayer and let the spray of the water spread the seeds evenly on the floor of the basket. Insert the basket into the plastic greenhouse tent. Remove it from the greenhouse twice each day for rinsing. It's that easy!

Rinse Them Right

Rinse the seeds with cold water using the flexible spray hose attached to your sink. If you don't have such a hose built in, purchase a spray adapter which easily connects to the end of your faucet. Faucet spray adapters are available at houseware stores.

Shower your seeds as well as the basket walls and rims with good water pressure. Good rinsing with strong water pressure washes away the fungi that cause mold and mildew. After two to three days most seeds send out roots and attempt to anchor into the basket weave. Shower the seeds evenly trying not to dislodge them in their effort to root. Leave the bed of seeds even and level. Wash for approximately 10 seconds, twice daily and no more than 12 hours apart.

You can also use your shower itself. Sprouts like it in the bathroom because it's the most humid room in the house and is often a few degrees cooler in the hot weather. Simply run the basket under the shower and set it aside to drain. You may close the curtain if your sprouts happen to be shy. Actually, the curtain keeps in the humidity and creates a greenhouse effect.

Immersion

This method is faster and easier than hosing but is only possible when the sprouts have anchored their roots into the basket. This usually occurs after four days of growth. First, fill your sink, bowl or pot with pure water, then dip in the entire basket for a total bath. Let the sprouts soak for at least 10 seconds, then drain and set in the greenhouse.

Make sure your sprouts are securely anchored into the basket before immersing. Check the underside of the basket for lots of rootlets showing through the weave.

Water temperature and water purity are important. The water temperature should vary according to the season. In hot weather, the water should be cold to cool the sprouts down. In cold weather, it should be warm to warm them up. Never use hot water which can reduce germination. Use lukewarm or tepid water.

Once your sprouts are securely anchored, you can even turn the basket upside down! Nothing will fall out except old seed hulls. Hulls are dead matter that decay promoting root rot and mold. Eliminating these hulls will keep sprouts healthy and delicious. Fresh hulls, by the way, are simple vegetable fibre similar to bran.

Tilt and Drain

Even though they are porous, baskets will retain water if held in a level position. After rinsing your seeds, hold the basket at an angle for a minute or until it stops dripping. You can test this yourself by holding a wet basket level and then tilting it slightly. The water will start to drain as soon as you tilt. Do not tilt too much during the first few days or the seedlings will fall out with the water.

The seeds require at least three days before their roots are long enough to wrap into the weave of the basket and hold on. Placing your basket on a dish rack or leaning it on a towel is very helpful if you have a lot of baskets or simply do not want to stand and wait. Or, when the seedlings have anchored themselves, you can wave the basket gently in a tub of water with the basket turned upside down to shake loose any excess water, then insert it back into the plastic greenhouse tent.

Source: Excerpted with permission from Sprouts, The Miracle Food by Steve Meyerowitz (The Sprout House, USA, 1999).

Seed Sprouting Synopsis

  • Soak your seeds overnight in a jar
  • Pour seeds into the bottom of a basket sprouter
  • Rinse vigorously for 30 seconds with a sink
  • Place basket in greenhouse tent with ample air above the seeds
  • Repeat 30 second rinsing twice daily, about 12 hours apart. It all takes only one minute
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