How to Grow Sprouting Seeds

Grow Guide #2654
Family: various
Binomial name: various sp.
Life Cycle: Grown as an annual

This 'How to Grow' guide details everything a home gardener needs to know to plant, grow and care for Sprouts (various sp.).

When to Sow Sprouts Seeds

Use the table below to identify the best time of year to sow sprouts seeds in your climate.

  JAN FEB MAR APR MAY JUN JUL AUG SEP OCT NOV DEC
Cool
Temperate
Sub-Tropical
Tropical
Arid

Preparation

Sprouting seeds are usually grown indoors in a position away from direct sunlight. Growing the sprouts in the dark will produce sweeter shoots than growing them in a brightly lit position.

You will need the following equipment:

  • Either a sprouting jar with a mesh lid OR a glass jar, a piece of muslin or cheesecloth to use as a cover and a rubber band to hold the cover in place.
  • A shallow bowl, such as a dessert bowl, for draining. 
  • Two or three teaspoons of small seeds, or more for larger types.
  • Optional: filtered water to rinse and drain the seeds. 

How to Grow Sprouting Seeds

  1. Rinse the seeds in a seive to remove any dust and any noticeably damaged or discoloured seeds.
  2. Add the desired quantity of seed to the jar and cover with lukewarm water. Approximately 15ml of seed is recommended for a 500ml jar; you will need a larger quantity for larger seeds.
  3. Attach the lid of the sprouting jar, or cover a normal jar with cheesecloth and secure it with the rubber band.
  4. Soak the seeds for 12 hours, then tip the jar upside down and drain the excess water. Rinse and drain again.
  5. Place the jar on its side in a dark, warm place; putting the jar in a shallow bowl with the open end in the bowl can help catch excess water as it drains. Seeds germinate best at temperatures of 10-30°C.
  6. Rinse and drain the seeds every 8-12 hours until the shoots have emerged and grown to the desired length (usually 3.5-5cm).
  7. When sprouts are the desired lenght, expose them to sunlight for around 15 minutes or until the shoots turn green. This step is essential to improve the nutritional benefit of the sprouts.

How to Harvest Sprouts

Sprouts should be ready to harvest in approximately 4-14 days.

Sprouts are ready to harvest from the time the sprouted tail is the same size as the original seed. Taste a couple of sprouts from this stage onwards to determine the best time to harvest.

Before harvesting the sprouts, give them a final rinse and drain them thoroughly. Take the sprouts from the jar, discard any unsprouted seeds, and leave sprouts to dry on kitchen paper. Drying the sprouts improves their storage time.

Sprouts are best eaten soon after they are harvested. Sprouts can be stored for three or four days in a sealed container in the refrigerator. Discard immediately if there any signs of mould or any unpleasant smell. Ideally, grow small batches at staggered intervals so you can always eat the sprouts at their freshest.

Common Problems when Growing Sprouts

Like all plants, sprouts is susceptible to some pests, diseases and other problems. Below is a list of the most common problems gardeners encounter when growing sprouts plants:

  • Amaranth seeds
    Seeds not sprouting may be caused by not draining the jar after adding water, overfilling the jar, or seeds having been stored incorrectly or being too old. Use the recommended quantity of seeds for the size of jar; rinse and drain seeds as directed then place the jar on its side so water can drain away; store sprouting seeds in a cool, dry place.
  • Sprouting jar
    Smelly or mouldy seeds may be caused by not rinsing the sprouts often enough, temperature being too hot, or mould spores being introduced through using dirty equipment or water. Rinse seeds thoroughly at least twice a day; do not expose jars to temperatures above 30°C; use thoroughly clean jars and lids; and use filtered water to rinse seeds.
  • Snow Pea sprouts
    Bitter tasting sprouts may be caused by exposing the sprouts to too much light while they were growing or leaving sprouts too long before harvesting them. Sprouts can be grown in the dark and only exposed to sunlight for a short while when they are ready to harvest; harvest sprouts before they develop leaves.

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