Most of us start the New Year with resolutions to eat healthier. Why wait until May or June to fulfill this commitment with fresh produce? There are a lot of seeds you can grow indoors such as sprout or leafy lettuces. And sprouts contain some of the highest concentrations of nourishment of any food source with things like anti-oxidants, protein, enzymes, fiber, numerous vitamins, and more!
The most common seeds used for sprouting is alfalfa, but you can also grow lentils, barley, broccoli, cabbage, mung beans (crunchy), peas, radishes (zippy), soy beans, sunflower, and wheat (sweet). Do not use seeds packaged for the garden; they are treated with chemicals. Health food stores carry an assortment of seeds for sprouting. Lentils can be found at any grocery store.
To sprout seeds all you need is a glass quart jar, a piece of cheesecloth with a jar ring or rubber-band to hold the cloth on, or a screened lid, about 1 tablespoon to ½ cup seeds and water.
For lentils or mung beans: rinse ¼ cup seeds with tepid water a couple of times and then place in jar, covering with about an inch of water, attach cheesecloth/screening. Place jar in a warm dark kitchen cabinet for 12 hours. Then take and drain off the soaking water, rinse seeds with tepid water and drain well. Replacing the cheesecloth/screening and gently lay jar on its side to distribute seeds evenly, returning to the cabinet.
Once or twice a day for the next three to five days, rinse and drain seeds. They will begin to sprout in a day or two and when they are about an inch or more long, they’re ready to eat; consume within four days.
Growing lettuces is even easier! The clear plastic clam-shell boxes used for food are perfect germination trays; punch several holes in the top for ventilation before you begin. If you have black plastic flats for growing under lights, you can use these as well; cover with clear kitchen wrap, also punched with holes, supported by Popsicle sticks if the flats did not come with lids.
Using a sterile potting mix, not soil or manure, place about an inch in the bottom of the tray and mist with water until evenly moist. Sprinkle lettuce seeds on top as you would if you were using salt or pepper. Sprinkle a bit more potting mix, no more than ¼ inch over seeds, mist heavily and cover. Place in a warm South-facing window or under grow lights for 12 hours per day. Check daily to be sure growing medium remains evenly moist; if too wet mold will form. Remove clear cover as planst mature.
The first cutting will be ready in three to four weeks, a second cutting in two more weeks. If space allows, plant trays in succession at one a week for four weeks. To harvest, tip tray sideways over kitchen strainer and snip off greens one inch up from base. Return tray to light source for a second harvest in about 12-14 days.