You would think that for someone who can garden almost year round that I wouldn’t be interested in indoor gardening, but I am. I don’t really have a great place to do much indoor gardening. Fortunately, the only space need for growing sprouts is a widow sill.
Sprouts are highly nutritious and a great way to have greens during the gardening off season. Sprouts also take up less space than other indoor gardening techniques.
That being said, sprouts are a little more fussy than growing microgreens, but I still think the positives outweigh the negatives when growing sprouts.
Supplies for Growing Sprouts
There are very few supplies needed to grow sprouts at home, you need a container, a strainer, seeds, and water.
Containers for sprouting – You can buy fancy sprouting kits, but really a mason jar will work just fine.
Strainer – IF you use a mason jar, you’ll need some kind of strainer instead of a regular lid. These mesh lids are handy but cheesecloth and a rubber band will also work.
Seeds – You’re going to need more seeds than are in a normal seed packet when you’re sprouting seeds. I suggest getting seeds that are labeled for sprouting as the seeds have been pre-treated so you won’t have to worry that the seeds have e-coli or salmonella on them. If you decide to use seeds that aren’t marked as spouting seeds, you’ll want to pre-treat them with hydrogen peroxide using the instructions at the end of this article. MiGardener has several spouting seed varieties available.
Water – Whatever water you drink is going to be just fine for sprouting seeds.
How to Grow Sprouts
One thing to remember with growing spouts is that the seeds will swell a lot. For most small seeds such as kale, radish, broccoli and alfalfa each tablespoon of seeds will produce one cup of sprouts.
So, if you’re growing radish sprouts in a quart size mason jar, you’ll want to use no more than 3 tablespoons radish seeds which will yield you about 3 cups of radish sprouts. This allows plenty of room in the jar for rinsing.
Sprouts don’t store well, so I suggest you only sprout enough seeds to eat within a couple of days. It’s better to have several jars of sprouts growing at different stages than one large jar of sprouts. This is similar to succession planting.
To sprout broccoli seeds, put 2 cups cool water in a quart size mason jar and add a tablespoon of seeds. Put the cheese cloth over the opening and secure it with a rubber band.
After two hours pour the water out without taking off the cheese cloth. Rinse the seeds (again, without taking off the cheese cloth) and put the jar upside down in a bowl to drain.
Every 12 hours or so, rinse and drain the sprouts for 3-5 days. On the last day, put the sprouts on a sunny window sill to green up the sprouts if you want green sprouts.
How to Harvest and Store Sprouts
When the sprouts are ready to harvest, give them one more rinse and drain them through the cheesecloth or mesh lid. I like to empty the drained sprouts onto a clean, dry kitchen towel and let them air dry for about an hour.
I line a glass storage bowl with a cloth napkin (a paper towel will work too) before putting the sprouts in the bowl. Then put the lid on the bowl and store it in the refrigerator – being sure to use them within a few days.
Sprouting questions answered:
Would I need to buy “sprouting seeds” or can I use my own seeds from the garden? You can use any seeds to sprout but it’s important to make sure the seeds are organic/non-gmo since you are eating the seed. Smaller seeds such as alfalfa, broccoli and radish make wonderful sprouts to eat raw.
How many days at 12ish hour intervals would I need to rinse the sprouts? It really depends on what you are sprouting (don’t you just hate that answer?). Most sprouts will be ready in 3-6 days, although onion sprouts will take 10-15 days. The seed packet should have the sprouting times listed.
What is the ideal temperature range for sprouting? The ideal temperature for sprouting seeds is 75 degrees Fahrenheit; colder and they will sprout slower, warmer and they will sprout faster.
Are there any concerns sprouting in a warm climate, especially in the summer? Since the sprouting is done inside the home climate should not make a huge difference, unless you don’t use a/c.
Biggest question is how to get rid of the seed hulls efficiently. We normally just eat the hulls. However, you can put the sprouts in a bowl of water and the hulls will float. Then you can just skim them off the water. Or have your child do it – which is even better.
One of our readers, Janette, was super sweet to provide us with some tips. “To make sure your seeds are free of bacteria before you start, soak them for 15 minutes in a little water and add 30 drops of 3% hydrogen peroxide (or 10 drops of 35% food grade). I also have used jars, burlap bags and a sprouting tray, 3 layers – works great. The biggest problem is keeping the sprouts after they are ready to eat – too much moisture and they sour, too little and they dry out. Best solution is use within a couple of days.”
When I was younger, there was a big scare with sprouts and I think E-coli. I am wondering if I do this at home, if there is a way to avoid those type of issues? E-coli is a big deal and I don’t want to just flippantly say, “Keep everything clean and you’ll be just fine.” But really, keep everything clean, use only organic sprouting seeds, or treat your seeds with hydrogen peroxide, and you’ll be fine.
Other Indoor Gardening Ideas
When you use a combination of indoor gardening ideas you really don’t need tons of room. You can grow a few herbs in containers in a window sill, a flat of microgreens on a side table in a sunny room or on a porch, and a sweet potato vine in a large pot in the living room. You can learn more about indoor gardening by clicking here.