Canadians Against Pesticides
Grow Your Own
by Arzeena Hamir
VISIT Arzeena's website: Terra Viva Organics
Sprouts are an excellent source of digestible protein, fibre, and Vitamin C, and are full of antioxidants. A 1997 study at John Hopkins University found that broccoli sprouts contain higher levels of cancer-fighting compounds than fresh broccoli itself.
Sprouting is so low-tech that it doesn't even require a green thumb. Some simple equipment and just a few steps will ensure that you and your family have a safe supply of this extremely nutritious food source.
Most people have heard of sprouting seed in a jar. However, as easy as this method sounds, it can be difficult to ensure that all of the excess moisture has drained. The humid environment inside a sprouting jar can encourage fungi and bacteria to grow. You'll find a slimy film on sprouts that have been sitting in water too long without being rinsed properly. I would not recommend growing sprouts in jars for anyone suffering from a suppressed immune system or for young children or the elderly.
The safest way to grow sprouts at home is to actually grow the seeds in soil. Any type of soil can be used but sterilized potting soil is the easiest to work with. Use whatever containers you have around the house - yoghurt containers, bowls, even baking dishes, the shallower the better. The sprouts won't require any fertilizer since all the nutrients required for growth are in the seed.
Next, just follow these simple steps:
If you still prefer the soil-less method, I would encourage you to invest in a sprouter that has multiple layers and trays with drainage holes. Not only do the drainage holes ensure that the sprouts remain disease-free, sprouters will encourage you to keep growing more sprouts when you see how easy it is to use them.
Sprouters work best with small seeds like alfalfa, clover, and onion. All you have to do is rinse the sprouts once a day and refrigerate them once they have sprouted.
Sprouts can be grown from a wide variety of seed, each with their own distinctive flavour. While most people are familiar with alfalfa, clover, and mung bean sprouts, you can grow sprouts from the seeds of radish, fenugreek, Azuki bean, lentils, lima bean, kale, cabbage, broccoli, sunflower, onion, rye, barley, wheat and even buckwheat.
The key to starting sprouts is to find a good source of organic, untreated seed. Common garden seed found in your garden centre is often treated with chemical fungicides and should not be used for sprouting. You can find packages of organic sprouting seed at your local health food store or from a variety of mail-order companies.
For more information about sprouting, you can refer to the following resources:
Sprouts: The Miracle Food
A Complete Guide to Sprouting
by Steve Meyerowitz
The Sprout Book
by Mark M. Braunstein
The Sprouting Book
by Anne Wigmore
The Sprout House: www.sproutman.com
Terra Viva Organics: www.tvorganics.com International Sprout Growers Association: www.isga-sprouts.org
Arzeena Hamir is an agronomist and garden writer based in Vancouver, BC. She has worked in the organic gardening industry for 8 years as a consultant and trainer. When she's not planting peas or harvesting zucchini, she runs Terra Viva Organics at www.tvorganics.com