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Past Articles Library | Kids Gardening | Tantalize Your Kids With Unique Sprouts



Growing sprouts to put on sandwiches is no longer a yuppie thing.  Sprouts can be found on sandwiches, salads, and even some soups.  But your kids’ interest in better eating can be tantalized when they grow their own sprouts.  Many different seeds can be turned into sprouts.  These include onion, alfalfa, mung bean, soybean, lentil, cabbage, and radish. 

The typical way of growing sprouts is the jar method.  This method requires the gardener to rinse seeds in cold water and then place them in a jar with water. The jar is placed in a dark location such as under a sink or closet.  After 24 hours, this water is drained and the seeds are rinsed again.  They are then placed in the jar without water and rinsed two to four times a day until the sprouts reached the desired length.  They are then moved to the light, greened up, and eaten.  In this approach, the whole plant is eaten but another technique allows the gardener to have more than one crop of greens without additional work.


To demonstrate this technique, two unique seeds used for sprouting will be discussed.

Chia

Chia (Salvia columbariae) is a very familiar plant that everyone hears about during the holidays and is showcased on the Chia Pet.  While many not know that you can consume your Chia Pet, even fewer may not be aware that you can harvest at least two crops of chia from you pet.  But if you do not own a Chia Pet you can still grow this plant.

This plant is related to some more common plants that are in the watercress family.  

To begin the process, first order your seed.  When ordering any seed for sprouting make sure that it is solely designed for sprouting.  Many seeds are treated with a fungicide and are not suitable for human consumption.  Another approach is to only order seed that has been organically grown.

Once the seeds arrive, a little preparation will have to occur before planting the seed.  The first step is to moisten the growing medium.  The choice for this medium can be quite diverse.  This includes soil, baby blanket, burlap, paper towel, and cheesecloth.  If using soil a shallow pan or tray will be needed.

After the growing medium has been selected, the next step is to thoroughly moisten this material.  The material can be soaked in water and then rung out.  If soil is being used, spray with water until completely moistened but not soggy.

Once the growing medium has been moistened, it is time to plant the seed.  Chia does well if the seeds have space around them.  Gently scatter seed on the surface of the medium and place in a 70F degree room with low light.  Spray the medium often to keep it uniformly moist.  When the seeds shed their hulls move them into the light.  Keep them in the light until the leaves open and the plant greens up.  Once this occurs they are ready to harvest.

To harvest the sprouts, simply cut them even with the growing medium. 

Curled Garden Cress

Curled garden cress is a perennial vegetable that has many names.  This includes curled cress, peppergrass, and Lepidium sativum.  It is a great substitute for watercress and can be grown outdoors in the spring and autumn.

To plant outdoors, first choose the location.  Curled garden cress like a well-drained soil that is in a sunny to lightly shaded location.  Once this location has been chosen, prepare the garden soil.  Curled garden cress should only be planted after the last frost.

After the garden soil has been prepared, make a ½ inch deep furrow.  Place seeds 2 inches apart and cover with a piece of thick brown paper.  The seeds will germinate in 7 to 14 days.

Once the plants reach 6 inches in height, cut them back to 1 inch in height and enjoy.  This will create more than one crop in a season.  Another approach to harvesting is to just pull the plant out of the ground.

This plant will continue to provide until the outdoor temperature dips to 20F degrees or below.  Once this happens, start the curled garden cress indoors as sprouts.

To begin this process, get out some blotter paper or paper towel.  Moisten the paper and sprinkle with the seeds.  Place in a warm room and keep evenly moist.  Repeat the process every two weeks if a constant supply is desired.

If you and your children have not tried sprouts, give them a try this year.  If sprouts are common in your household, give some of these less known sprouts a try.







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