Supply your household with a source of fresh, leafy green vegetables this winter by learning how to grow your own shoots indoors. If you’ve never tried it, I’m offering you the perfect opportunity to try it now and see how easy it really is. Join me in my #WinterGrowingChallenge and grow shoots through the winter this season. I’ve assembled this how-to article to walk you through the process and I’m offering a Quick Start Guide available as a free download that you can print to have on hand. Keep reading to find out more.
Note: If this is your first time here, please follow the link to more about the #WinterGrowingChallenge!
Step 1: Gather Supplies
Growing shoots is super simple and you probably already have most of the required supplies in your kitchen.
Seeds: You can find sprouting seeds at your local health-food store, but for better selection you may want to look online. Check out Johnny’s listings of shoots and sprouts, and feel free to call me on Mondays or Tuesdays when I’m in the Call Center for help in selecting varieties for your family; just ask if Sam is available!
- Soil: a standard germination mix works fine. Typically available at your local garden center or hardware store. It’s a mix of peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, and lime.
- Trays: aluminum foil half-loaf bread pans, 4×6-inch seedling tray, or even the bottom of a milk jug or a ceramic cereal bowl.
- Organic fertilizer: fish emulsion or kelp meal. Both should be available at your local garden center, but if not you can find fish emulsion at Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
- Warm, dark spot: a kitchen cupboard or closet shelf.
- Newspapers: you should be able to get your hands on some newspaper, but if not try substituting with paper towels, newsprint packing paper, or paper napkins.
- Measuring cups & spoons
- Watering can
- Small glasses or plastic cups
- Small strainer or sieve
- 1 gallon Ziploc bag
- 1 gallon plastic juice container
- Seeds for sprouts/shoots
- Sunny windowsill
Step 2: Soak the Seeds & Prep the Soil
Prepare to start your shoots by first prepping your soil. Fill the juice container to the brim with germination mix and add water. For a 2-Quart juice container add 2 cups of water. Put the cover on and set it aside, that part’s done.
For every tray I intend to sow I set out 1 cup.
Please note: this recipe is geared toward trays that are 3×6-inches; if your trays are larger you will need to use more seed to cover the soil.
For large seed like peas, sunflower and buckwheat use 1 tablespoon of seed per tray. For small seeds like broccoli and radish, use just 1 teaspoon of seed (it may not look like enough seed to do the job, but trust me, you don’t want to over-sow those little babies!).
Fill the cups halfway with water to completely cover the seeds and leave them for 6 hours or overnight.
Step 3: Prep Trays and Covers
The next morning take 1 sheet of newspaper for each tray you intend to sow and fold each one so that it’s just a little bigger than the tray. Soak these in water and set aside while you prep the trays.
In the bottom of each tray place 1/2 teaspoon of your chosen fertilizer, along with 1 teaspoon of compost. Add 1-1/4 cups of the pre-moistened soil mix (again, this is for a 3×6-inch bread loaf pan) and level it out.
Yay! Now you’re ready to sow the seeds!
Step 4: Add Seeds and Cover 4 days
Drain the water out of the seeds using the small sieve and sow the trays one at a time, spreading the wet seeds over the soil so that they touch, but are not overlapping each other. Then take your wet newspaper cover and press it into the tray so that it is in direct contact with the seeds.
Now put your covered trays in a warm, dark location and leave them for 4 days. You can keep them in a dresser drawer like I am, or use a kitchen cupboard, closet shelf─anywhere you can create a small space for these to sit that is relatively warm and dark.
Step 5: Remove Covers – Put in Window
On day 5 remove the covers from your trays and place the shoots in a sunny spot. This can be directly in the window, on an end table in the living room that get plenty of sun, or you can even use a grow-light if you don’t have an accessible window.
Step 6: Water Daily for 3-4 days
Water the shoots once a day with 2-4 tablespoons of water. Watch your shoots grow and unfurl tender new leaves! Marvel at the wonder of nature inside your own home!
Step 7: Harvest!!
Now the best part! When your shoots are 4-6 inches tall use a pair of scissors to harvest the greens. Eat them raw to receive their full nutritional benefit. Enjoy a winter salad, put shoots on your sandwich, add them to a smoothie; get creative with it!
Join me this winter on my mission to grow my own shoots to provide my household with a source of fresh, leafy-greens. Try it for yourself at home and see how easy it is! Save money and eat better at the same time! Sounds like an oxymoron right? Well it’s not. Growing shoots at home saves you from buying the sad wilty lettuce at the grocery store, allows you to eat greens so fresh they’re only minutes old, and offers you the opportunity to eat more of those healthful greens. Join me in the #WinterGrowingChallenge this season and eat more veg!
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