Last month I did a food demonstration at The Wellness Community about 10 minutes from my home in lovely Fairmount Park. As a volunteer at MANNA, a non-profit organization that makes 750 meals each week for people with life-threatening illnesses, I worked with MANNA nutritionist Cyndi Davis and created a sprout workshop. (Next month I hope to profile Cyndi and MANNA.)
Below is a picture of me under the awning at The Wellness Community, displaying all the jar sprouts and soil sprouts I had grown for the demo. The facility is a lovely, restored house nestled in the park. It was also a perfect day to eat outside, and the participants, about 15, brought their own lunches, and I also brought a tossed salad with sprouts and a chilled rice salad, using jar-sprouted lentils. See recipe by clicking on Kitchen Nutrition with Recipes.
Previously, in April of 2007, I did a posting on sprouting seeds only in jars for quick nutrition. Since growing your own food is part of Living Green, I thought I would post this piece on The Wellness Community workshop, where I demonstarted how to sprout seeds into baby greens, grown right on your windowsill. This method is a little more challenging, but also a lot more rewarding, I think, because the seeds become actual plants that you can put on the table and serve with your meals. The photo below is sprouted radish seeds in one inch of soil, using a plastic tub from tofu.
Here are the steps for windowsill gardening. In my booklet, The Johnny Alfalfa Sprout Handbook, I use the term soil sprouts, but baby greens sounds so much more up-to-date:
1. Soak seeds several hours in water (8-12 hours). Try unhulled sunflower seeds, buckwheat seeds, radish seeds, or lentils.
2. Drain seeds (save water) and place in a small, lipped container with about 1 1/2 inches of potting soil. (You can use a little of the soaking water to moisten the soil.) I save small containers from produce or other foods (ex. cottage cheese container) for baby greens.
3. Place a single layer of soaked and drained seeds on the moistened soil. (Don’t flood the soil or the seeds will rot.)
4. Cover seeds with a moistened paper towel and place inside a dark plastic bag, tucking it under. (You are creating a greenhouse.)
5. Check the paper towel every other day and moisten it if it becomes dry. By the third or fourth day, you should see the tiny green shoots peek out of their hulls or shells (as in sunflower seeds).
6. Remove the plastic bag and paper towel and allow sprouts to grow on your windowsill, watering them about every other day. In warm weather you may have to do this every day; just a small amount of water will do.
7. As the seeds grow, the hulls will begin to drop off and when they are about two inches hight, you can harvest them by cutting them down with a scissors and adding to salads. In many cases, the slower growing seeds will continue to grow and you will have a second harvest. So you might be able to eat from these mini-plants for two weeks.
The baby greens on the windowsill are overgrown, so they are falling over the edges. They are a mixture of radish, sunflower, lentil, and buckwheat. Cut them down before they reach this size for sweeter greens. The picture below this one are the greens cut down. I put them in the ‘frig and will use them in my Organic Garden Salads if they do not taste too strong. Otherwise, I will add them to my carrot juice cocktail or use in soup stock.
1. When you remove the plastic bag, the roots may look “funny,” but once the sun shines on them, that will clear up.
2. Also, you can harvest more than you need and place in the refrigerator, but their shelf life is short, so I harvest as I need them for salads and sandwiches.
3. This is a great project for kids as well as people in assisted living places, because the joy of seeing your garden come to fruition in less than 2 weeks is really exciting. It’s also a perfect activity for Living Green and can become an edible hobby!
4. Seeds for sprouting are available in most health food stores or on line by Googling Seeds for Sprouting. Look for organic seeds. While the initial price per pound might seem a little high, the seeds produce a great many greens, so in the long run, the investment is cost effective and provides you with kitchen nutrition.