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Seed Prep: Keeping your dormant seeds happy.
Certain seeds have more of a need than others:
Mung Beans are grown in China and dried on dirt roads. Not surprisingly they tend to be dusty as a result.
Alfalfa and Clover (and therefore all of our Leafy sprout blends) are polished. Polishing is a modern method of seed scarification which is intended to make the seed take up water more readily and thereby germinate faster. Polishing is like sanding and it does have the downside of leaving behind - for you and us to clean - the dust created as the seed's coat is sanded down. The positive aspect far outweighs that however. The old scarification method - still used on much of the seed you can buy for sprouting (never from us though!), involves breaking the seed coat by either scratching it or freezing it. The vast majority of pathogen problems that the sprout industry has been dealing with over the past few years have to do with those broken seed coats, so though you have to rinse and rinse and rinse these seeds to clean them, you know they are whole and safe!
Radish seeds often contain some wild sunflower and buckwheat in their number. We don't remove them before soaking - it would be a real drag - but we get rid of them when we De-Hull - when the crop is done.
Some Grains will have a certified organic (and edible) insect powder (diatomaceous earth) on them to keep grain weevils (little tiny insects that eat a perfect hole right through a kernel of grain) at bay. We very rarely have grain that has this powder on it. We prefer freezing which is another way to control grain weevils, but if your grain is powdery, just rinse like you would any other seed before Soaking.
There are other examples, but you'll find out about the seeds by looking at their information pages. Like we say: Culling through your seeds before prep is a good habit, but don't lose any sleep over it - after all, we sell very good seeds - we sprout so many of them in our business that we couldn't possibly stand to deal with bad seeds!
You can use a sieve or colander for this task as long as your seeds won't fall through the holes. Some of our Sprouters are perfect for this too. These are the best and in both cases you can Prep and just move right on to sprouting:
Jars with Lids
Whether you use one of our Sprouters or your own container, it should be at least very clean and even better, sterile. You should scrub it well with soap and/or a dilute bleach solution (1 Tbs. of bleach per pint is good & strong)
Put your seeds in the Sprouter or other thing and run water through them until the water runs clear. Stir the seeds up with a spoon, fork or high pressure water to make sure they are all getting well bathed. That's all there is to it.
* As a rule, real sprouting seeds have gone through an amazingly complete cleaning process and rarely will you find anything other than high germinating seeds, but despite the best efforts of cleaning screens, gravity tables and the rest; non-seeds and similarly sized weed seeds can get through - they just feel and weigh too much the same as the seed being cleaned to be recognized by the equipment.
Sprouting seeds should vary from other seeds in several ways. They should have a high germination rate. They should have been cleaned beyond the level of seeds not sold to the sprout industry. They should have been tested for pathogens. These are all true in the case of the seed we sell. It is not likely so with seeds and beans you buy off the shelf at a store. Those seeds are often intended for cooking and need not be subjected to the additional processes and expense! That is why we tell people to buy seed from a source they trust. Do not be stopped from sprouting if your store bought seeds don't sprout! Lentils sold for soup may have been stored poorly for a long time - if you are cooking them it hardly matters. They may sprout just fine, but if they don't, then buy some that you know are fresh and clean and intended for sprouting! Buy from someone who is selling SPROUTING SEED! Someone you Trust!
All of the seed we sell has been tested by our suppliers and is certified free of pathogens.
Nowadays the conventional (non-organic) sprout industry demands that all seeds not only be washed but also soaked in a toxic bleach solution (equivalent to 1 part household bleach + 1 part water) to make seeds safe. As you probably know, if you're this far into our site, we have quite a different opinion. It is - in our opinion - hardly worth eating sprouts if you feel the need to bleach them. Bleach kills the good bacteria which we are, as mammals, dependent on, bleach is a dioxin which does not break down in nature and so pollutes the planet and if that isn't enough - it is a known carcinogen.Back to top
seeds are dormant.
seeds soak up different amounts of water.
Mix your Seeds up:
small seeds in particular, it is important to mix up your seeds to
assure even water contact. We use our hands or a nice wooden spoon or
something - to stir the seeds around.
How Long is Long Enough?
A few seeds do not Soak at all and though most do, they Soak for varying duration's. The norm is 8-12 hours, but some soak for only 20 minutes, some occasionally soak in warm or hot water and for more or less time - Check the seed information pages for the seeds you are sprouting.
After your Soak is over:
off any non-seeds that are floating on the water*.
Skim or pour off any seeds or non-seeds remaining afloat.
Proceed to the next step: RinsingBack to top
Given proper moisture a seed will germinate.
Rinsing is the process by which we add moisture to our sprouts. Draining is the process by which we regulate the amount of moisture our sprouts have available - until their next Rinse.
The Principals of Rinsing:
Use cool water (60-70°).
Use a lot of water.
Use high water pressure whenever possible.
Rinse 2-3 times daily.
By using high pressure water (turning your faucet to high) you "clean" your sprouts, infuse them with oxygen (oxygenate) and keep them loose - which helps a lot when it comes to Draining.
Though sprouts will grow with little water - as long as the humidity is right, it is our long held opinion that they won't grow as well, store as well or taste as good. Even further - though we have no scientific evidence, we think the heavy watering/oxygenating makes healthier sprouts. We see sprouting as micro-gardening. A garden loves nothing more then a nice thorough rain on a perfect Summer day - plants seem to grow before your eyes. With Sprouts, a thorough rinse along with desired humidity and 70° temperature is a perfect Summer day, so let it rain!
Don't forget the other most vital element of sprouting: Draining
If you are watering Greens and Grass the basic rule is to keep the seed moist until it's root is buried in the soil (or other water retaining medium), at which point you keep the medium moist.
Don't water to the point of drowning however. If your seeds/plants are sitting in a muddy swamp they will suffer too. Common sense will guide you =:-}
Your plants will require more and more water as they grow bigger - they are after all, mostly water - so water them whenever they need it - every day or 2 at first and at least every day during their last few days of growth.
Water from the sides if possible to avoid hurting the tender plants - remember - you are watering the medium not the plants during the last several days.Back to top
Draining is the process by which we regulate the amount of moisture our sprouts have available - until their next Rinse.
You are probably thinking: If I use less water to Rinse I'll have an easier time Draining. Logical.
We know it may not make sense, but it is true - Rinsing thoroughly grows better sprouts! BUT - when you Rinse thoroughly you MUST Drain just as thoroughly.
So, spin, shake, bounce and twirl your sprouter - just get as much water out as you can after every thorough Rinse.Back to top
In between Rinse and Drain cycles your sprouts do their growing. During that time it is essential that they can breathe. The best sprouting devices help them breathe, but you need to pay some attention too. There isn't much to it - sprouts can grow just about anywhere - as long as they can breathe, but don't have so much air movement that they dry out between Rinses.
We set our sprouter on a counter in the middle of our kitchen. The air moves better in the center of the room than along the edges. We don't mind the diffuse sunlight or the 150 watts of incandescent light. Light just does not matter much. A plant can only perform photosynthesis when it has leaves. Until then light has little if any effect, and they need to breathe - so don't hide your sprouts!Back to top
We don't do anything special to green our sprouts when we grow at home. We grow them from start to finish on the kitchen counter - or the dish drainer if there is room. In either case they get light from our combined 150-200 watts around the room - just regular light bulbs, and a little (very) indirect sunlight.
When you're growing sprouts, room light is nothing to worry about! Don't bother hiding your Sprouts, they can't begin photosynthesis until they have leaves anyway and contrary to the all too popular dogma in sprouting books - it does no harm!
On the day your Sprouts are ready to take in light - when their cotyledons (first leaves) have shed their hulls or are about to - allow your sprouts light - if you've been keeping it from them. If you grow them - like we do - where light is already available, just watch the magic (it'll take a couple days so you might want to grab a sandwich if you plan on watching every moment =:-)
Grass & Greens
If you are Growing Grass or Greens you will have kept the light away most likely, so now is the time to uncover them. When you see them growing tall (an inch or so for Grass and 2-3 inches for Greens) but yellow (sans chlorophyll), uncover the container and move it to a well lit location.Greens (like the Sunflowers in the picture) are a bit greedier for light, especially Sunflower Greens, so make them happy and give 'em plenty. If you use direct sunlight be prepared to do more watering. As the plants grow their roots become more voluminous than the soil on which they're planted, so they drink up the moisture faster the bigger they get. When you factor in light - especially direct sunlight which hastens the drying of the soil - you need to work that much harder to keep your crop moist. Just plan on watering every day during the last few days.
We use the sun whenever we can when Greening plants, we have for years. There is nothing better for the big plants!
As for Grass - it will also do swell with the Sprout sufficient light and since you allow Grass light when still quite small, it is best to keep it away from direct (hot) light so the soil doesn't dry out. After it has grown to two or three inches it will have developed a canopy over the soil. You can be more aggressive with your light then, if you wish, but as with the Greens, the root mass is greater than the soil mass by this time so keep it moist!