The Raw Foods Evolution

Saturday, January 21, 2006

How to grow Sprouts

Sprouting is one of the cheapest and inexpensive ways to eat the raw foods diet. Sprouting will give you pounds of organic produce for just pennies. It is fun, quick, and easy to do.

If you purchase an ounce of wheat grass juice in the store, it usually costs $1. If you grow your own, it only costs five cents per ounce of juice.

These are the sprouting instructions I use:

How to grow Wheatgrass
Quoted from

Choose a container

Sprouting your own wheatgrass is extremely
easy. Any type of container is suitable
for sprouting wheatgrass. Pots that have
drainage holes are the easiest to use for
beginner sprouters but once you get a handle
on how much water wheat sprouts require,
you can sprout them in any container that
is at least 3-4" deep. I've found dollar
stores to be a fantastic source of decorative
containers that won't break my pocketbook.

Select a growing medium

Once you've decided on a container, fill
it to about 1" below the top of the rim
with pre-moistened soil, compost or potting
mix. Make that sure whatever growing
medium you use, it doesn't contain any
artificial fertilizers or chemicals.

Plant the seed

Wheat seed is the last ingredient. Wheat
seeds are sometimes sold as wheat berries,
"kernels" or as "Hard Red Wheat".

Most health food stores sell these wheat
berries or kernels which works fine for
sprouting wheatgrass and can be purchased
for about $1 for a lb. of seed.

Sprinkle the top of your container with
wheat seed. Leave a little bit of space
between the seeds, so that they're not
touching and competing for food. Press
the seed into the soil and then cover
lightly with more potting mix or soil and
water lightly.

In about 3-4 days, you will begin to see
sprouts emerge. It's now time to move the
container to a sunny location (but not
full sun). Sunshine not only allows the
young sprouts to manufacture more
chlorophyll, but it helps to keep them
stocky and short. Wheatgrass grown in the
dark or in poorly lit areas tends to be
quite pale and lanky and in no time at
all, the sprouts begin to fall over.

By about day 7-10, the sprouts are the
perfect height to begin harvesting for
juice. Wheatgrass grown using this method
can be cut more than once for an extended
harvest so start a few containers on
different days so that you have a
continuous supply of the nutritious leaves.

There are also nurseries in most major
cities that will deliver fresh
wheatgrass right to your door!

(Pea Greens can be grown the same way
as wheatgrass!)

More info at

The basics to know:

1. Soak your hard winter wheat seed
(also called wheatberries) overnight or
8-12 hours.

2. Sprout the seed in a jar for the next
16-24 hours, rinsing the seed well three
times a day.

3. Plant the seed after a very short
"tail" is visable, on top of the soil
(basic potting mix or top soil will work
fine, peat moss is an important ingredient
to look for in your soil, if you have to
add peat moss the mix is 1part peat
moss/3parts soil) filled half way up the tray.

4. Water tray and then cover seed to keep
from drying out for the first three days.

5. During the first three days of growth,
water once a day in the am and really
soak the soil (until the tray drips is a
good sign you are watering enough) and
then lightly mist your seed in the pm
(lift cover off to mist seed).

6. On the fourth day, uncover grass
(roots should begin to take over your
soil), water heavy, once a day and keep
the grass in the shade (never direct
sunlight). 7. For mold problems,
increase your air circulation with a fan
or A/C to keep temp between 70-80 degrees.

8. Harvest grass when a second blade of
grass appears or when the grass "splits"
toward the bottom of the blade (average
growing time is 7-12 days depending on
the weather, but still always watch for
the second blade of grass as you can
never judge by how many days it has been
growing or how tall the grass is).

9. Only harvest one time (cut grass will
store in the fridge for up to 7 days)
and then start process all over again
with new seed and soil.

Sunflower Green Sprouting Instructions

We could get 2-3 pounds of Sunflower
Greens from an 11x22 inch tray.

Planting Medium: We have grown Greens -
on soil - in Trays, for years. But, we
now have two alternatives: Soilless
mediums Baby Blanket and Vermiculite,
and organic liquid kelp fertilizer
(Kelpman). Baby Blanket is a thin organic
material that you soak before planting
upon. It holds moisture and is the least
messy and compact medium we know of.

Vermiculite is a mineral which holds
moisture supremely, dispenses added
nutrients over time and in general
acts much like soil. We think you
should try all of them if you can -
there are differences and though they
are minimal you may prefer one method
over the other and the only way to know
for sure is to try.

Instructions are pretty much the same in
all cases, but where there is a difference
we include purple text like this.

Soil Note: Virtually any soil will do for
Greens, BUT - for Sunflower Greens we
ALWAYS ADD Earthworm Castings (20-30%
castings maximum in the soil mix). We
know from vast experience that the crop
grows more evenly, sheds hulls better,
grows faster and even tastes better when
worm castings are added! We use sterile
bagged composted cow manure for everything
else, but any sterile bagged soil will
do and should cost less than $5 (for
40-50 pounds) at any garden center
(depending on the general cost of living
where you are of course).

You can use expensive soil if you prefer
- it is your choice - always. The deal
is this - Greens (garden Greens anyway)
are aided by the presence of the nutrient
Nitrogen, in the soil. Nitrogen is the
nutrient responsible for plant growth
(a very good thing when growing lettuce
or spinach, but too much nitrogen is bad
if growing peas or tomatoes or any plant
where the fruit is what we want, as
opposed to the plant itself).

Manures come in various strengths depending
on the animal that originally produced
it. Too much nitrogen will burn plants
- literally burn them - hence the word
HOT is used in reference to nitrogen.

The higher the nitrogen content the HOTTER
the manure (or fertilizer) is considered.

Cow manure is the least hot - it is
perfect for our needs - it supplies the
growing plants with a little extra boost.

Worm castings are Very Hot (worm castings
are worm manure) - so we use them sparingly
and only in the case of Sunflower Greens.

The catch is this: Greens, Grass and
Sprouts are almost all too young to
benefit from nitrogen, because for the
most part every seed has all the nutrients
it needs to grow to the cotyledon stage -
which is all we do with any of our seeds.

So - though it is contradictory, it is
our experience that nitrogen does help
Greens and Grass. Like we always say -
little nitrogen can't hurt.

Tray Note: Your Planting Tray (the one
with the soil or medium in it) MUST have
drainage holes or slits! Nothing will
grow in a medium that can not drain -
that condition is commonly called
"flooded". When using Baby Blanket or
Vermiculite your Planting Tray must also
have drainage, but we do use the Drip
Tray to hold some water at times in the
growing process. (You'll see the TIP
below - keep reading.)

When growing Greens: You really MUST
Pre-Sprout before planting.


Put seed into a bowl or your Sprouter.

Add 2-3 times as much cool (60-70 degree) water.

Mix seeds up to assure even water contact for all.

Allow seeds to Soak for 8-12 hours.

Note: Sunflower seeds in their shell will
FLOAT. You MUST weigh them down when
soaking or they won't all take up water.

We use a plate that rests right on top of
the seeds in the bowl or bucket in which
we soak, but the easiest of all methods
for the home grower is to use a jar with
a lid.

Put your seeds in and fill the jar to the
brim with water, screw on the lid and
presto - all of your seeds are submerged!

Empty the seeds into your sprouter if necessary.

Drain off the soak water.

Rinse thoroughly with cool (60-70°) water
and Drain thoroughly.

Set anywhere out of direct sunlight and
at room temperature (70° is optimal)
between Rinses.

Rinse and Drain again in 8-12 hours.

And, perhaps one more...

Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.

And, conceivably one more...

Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.

The goal is to have a small root before planting.

When most of the seeds have sprouted tiny
(1/8-1/4 inch) roots it is time to plant.

This is typically after just 2-3 Rinse
and Drain cycles.


Soil Note: The amount of soil you use is
up to you. The reality is this: As your
plants grow they need more and more water.

They get their water from the soil. The
more soil you use - the more water it can
hold - the less you need to water.

Remember to add 20-30% Earthworm Castings
to your base soil for the best possible crop!

Thoroughly moisten the soil. Allow puddles to dry.

Sometimes you may need to use your fingers
to make sure the soil is moist all the
way down to the bottom of the tray. Water,
mix, water, mix, etc. Sometimes you don't
have to do that.

Baby Blanket:

Prepare the pad: Cut it to fit your Tray
if necessary. Soak it in water or better
yet, Kelpman enriched water (You don't
NEED fertilizer, but we use it when we
grow without soil.) until thoroughly
saturated (fold it up and push it into
the liquid - use a pot or something
similar to hold it). Unfold it and
re-fold differently or do whatever makes
sense - the goal is to get the pad
THOROUGHLY soaked. Spread the wet pad
across the bottom of your Planting Tray.


Vermiculite absorbs liquid so readily and
holds it so supremely that you need little
of it. We use 3 Cups for an 11 x 11 inch
tray and 6 Cups for an 11 x 22 inch tray.

If you're using another size tray, make
it 1/4 - 1/2 inch deep. Spray water evenly
across the surface then spread it out as
evenly as you can. We like to use Kelpman
enriched water (You don't NEED fertilizer,
but we use it when we grow without soil.)

so we just pour it on until thoroughly
saturated and then spread it out. The
amount of liquid is this: a little more
than one quart for an 11 x 22 inch tray.

You don't want more than a little left
in the Drip Tray. Pour off what water
remains above the ridges of the Drip
Tray. Proceed...

Spread seeds evenly on thoroughly moistened

We use a lot of Sunflowers and though
some literature will tell you that your
seeds should not ever lay atop each other,
we have found from years of experience
and thousands of pounds of Greens grown
that that is bunk! You will learn for
yourself that some Greens (like these)
produce a plant that takes up less room
than the seed (sunflower seeds are in
fact going to grow all the way to the
top of the crop, rising on tender stalks,
and be shed to display 2 lovely leaves
which are the meat of the seed transformed
into the plant. This is dicot seed at its
most illustrative!) and so to maximize
your yield your seeds must lay atop each
other to some degree.

The thing to watch is this: If you find
mold or fungal problems in your Greens
then lessen the amount of seed you plant.

The hotter/more humid your climate is
the more of an issue the mold/fungus is.

As always, you need to adapt to your own
climate and seasonal conditions. And learn
as you go - this is really easy and fun
stuff to learn!

Cover the planted tray

with an inverted tray (the Cover Tray) -
to keep light out and moisture in.

Note: Your covering tray should have holes
or slits in it so that some air circulation
exists. Without this very minimal air
flow you might have mold or fungal

Place in a low-light, room temperature
location. 70° is always optimal but
Sunflower Greens will grow very well in
warmer temperatures also.

Water lightly once or twice a day.

The goal is to keep the sprouts moist
until their roots bury themselves in the
soil/medium - at which point your goal is
to keep the soil/medium moist. Spraying
the sprouts is best - whether you use a
garden hose sprayer, hand sprayer or
faucet sprayer - just try to make sure
that every sprout gets rinsed and quenched
until they bury their roots. You may use
Kelpman if you like.

Water the medium.

Once the roots are buried all you need
to do is keep the medium moist - the
seeds and subsequent Greens will get the
moisture they need through their roots.

Water from the side if possible, to
prevent injuring the tender Plants.

The Soilless alternative.

Vermiculite holds water better than
anything, while Baby Blanket will dry
out more quickly than soil in most
circumstances, so you should either
water more often or experiment with our
somewhat risky trick:

Use the Drip Tray to hold some water.
The roots will actually sit in this, so
don't go crazy - too much can drown your
plants and/or lead to fungal or mold
problems. Just leave as much water as
the Greens can drink in a day and then
add more the following day. The amount
is dependant on the climate (humidity
especially) you're growing in, so you'll
have to learn this for yourself.

We suggest that you start with 1-2 cups
in the Drip Tray. Lift the Planting Tray
to see how much is left after 4, 8 and
12 hours.

If the Drip Tray is dry add more water -
if there is still water 24 hours later
then cut back the next time you add water.

Pretty simple really, and not as risky
as we make it sound - it is really a
time saver and produces happier healthy

Once again, we do recommend Kelpman
enriched water for soilless growers.
Soil growers may use it too of course,
but the soil does have some nutrients
already, so it is not nearly as important
for you - especially if you're already
using worm castings.

Uncover your Greens

Wait 3-4 days until they are 1-2 inches
tall or until they push the covering tray
up (it really will do that - it is cool!)

Move to a well lit location to Green your
Greens (If you use direct sunlight (a
very good idea for Greens) be prepared
to do more watering). Keep the soil/medium
moist by watering the soil/medium daily.
Watch it grow.


When the plants are about 3-4 inches tall
and have green leaves - by cutting the
plants just above soil or mediums surface.

Harvest should occur BEFORE "true leaves"
begin to show. They are leaves which will
appear from the center of the first 2
leaves. If you see a few Greens with
these tiny leaves forming then get your
scissors NOW - the Greens get less tasty
(a bit bitter) if left go too long.

Note: Sunflower Greens will shed their
hulls as their leaves open, but there
are always some that are slow to shed.
You can take the tray at an angle and
brush your hand back and forth over the
top of the Greens to help the stubborn along.

If you are going to store your crop:
During the final 8-12 hours minimize the
surface moisture of your Greens - they
will store best in your refrigerator if
they are dry to the touch. So if you
water try to keep the water off the
plants - just water the soil/medium.

Transfer your crop to a plastic bag or
the sealed container of your choice -
glass is good - and put them in your

Note: Sunflower Greens can produce a
2nd (smaller) crop so you may continue
to water the Tray after you cut your
first crop. The 2nd crop is the result
of the seeds that are slower - the
plants you cut will not re-grow.

* Note: If using Single Harvest Pack
use the whole bag on our 5 inch tray
(or similar).

Or Use:

1/4-1/3 cup for a 5" square Tray.
1-1 1/2 cup for an 11" square Tray.
2-3 Cups for an 11 inch x 22 inch Tray.

The surest way to know what amount of
seed to use: Spread dry seed on the
bottom of your sprouter so that the seed
is spread evenly but densely.

Once again: We use a lot of Seeds and
though some literature will tell you that
your seeds should not ever lay atop each
other, we have found from years of
experience and thousands of pounds of
Greens grown that that is bunk!

The thing to watch is this: If you find
mold or fungal problems in your Greens
then lessen the amount of seed you plant.

The hotter/more humid your climate is
the more of an issue the mold/fungus is.

As always, you need to adapt to your own
climate and seasonal conditions. And
learn as you go - this is really easy and
fun stuff to learn!