Monday, March 28, 2011

sunflower shoots.

I have had a bunch of people ask about how to sprout sunflowers, and how easy it is compared to traditional jar sprouting or growing microgreens. So, here is how I sprout sunflower shoots!

It has a few more steps than sprouting of course, but isn't quite as involved as growing other microgreens. With microgreens I find I need more space, more equipment (trays, lights), and it takes a little more time. With sunflower shoots I can grow small trays that fit on my kitchen counter or windowsill and don't need any light supplementation. So while it make take 9-11 days or so, it isn't hard or too involved.

Step One: Soak
Put your sunflower seeds into a canning jar or sprouter, cover with cool (60-70ºF) water. Soak 8-12 hours. Rinse. Drain. (They float, so you can shake/stir a few times during this phase to keep them all moist, or put something in to weigh them down a bit).
Step Two: Sprout
Set your drained sprouts in the canning jar/sprouter anywhere out of direct sunlight. Keep them at room temp.

Rinse and Drain the seeds every 8-12 hours for about 24-36 hours (2-3 rinse cycles). You want to have a small root before planting.

Step Three: Planting
You can use different types of growing medium, I usually use organic potting soil which contains a few other goodies (earthworm castings, etc.). They seem to grow best that way. Start with moist soil in a shallow tray - 1-2" of soil is fine.

Plant in a shallow tray with drainage holes. You don't need deep soil. You can use pots, trays, canning jars ...

Spread seeds on your soil. They can be densely packed, but don't pile on deeply or you might get mold. The seeds can be packed in there, single layer, all touching. Just press into the soil, you don't really need to cover them with dirt.

Step Four: Cover
Cover with a tray or slip into a gallon baggie (don't seal, let air circulate) to root well for a day or two - low light, not direct sunlight. Keep them under cover until they are 1 to 2 inches tall.

Water carefully once or twice a day. I like to add some organic kelp fertilizer to the water every few days, but you don't have to.
Step Five: Grow
Take off your plastic/cover and move the tray of small sprouts to a sunny location. If they get a lot of sunshine in a window you might need to water more. Let grow in the sun a few days.

Step Six: Harvest
When the shoots are about 3 or 4 inches tall and have two green leaves per shoot, you can start cutting them. Cut just above the surface of the soil. Be sure to cut/harvest when there are only 2 leaves per shoot, BEFORE true leaves come.
Just a note: sunflower shoots shed the hulls of the sunflower seeds as they grow, but you will see some that will retain those. If there are shoots that still have the hulls at the sunshine/grow stage, you can just gently pluck/pull them from the leaves as they grow.
(Here is the timeline for the batch I grew/photographed this time. 3/15: soak, 3/17: drain/rinse, 3/20: plant in soil, covered, 3/23: uncover, 3/27: harvest).

Sunflower shoots are high in vitamins A, B, C and E and contain chlorophyll, Iron, Niacin, Phosphorous, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium, Amino Acids and are up to 25% protein. They taste so green - and just like sunflower seeds. YUM! I eat them plain (can't stop myself!) or use them on sandwiches or in salads.

Many places carry sunflower seeds just for sprouting/growing shoots. It is a good idea to use organic seeds, and seeds meant for sprouting, as they have not been chemically treated. Where to find sunflower seeds for sprouting::

High Mowing Organic Seeds
Sprout People
Pinetree Garden Seeds

Happy growing!



slim pickins said...

thank you for this! i tried growing some last year - we buy them every week at the farmer's market, we love them so much - but it didn't work out very well. seems i missed the soaking and rooting step (ahem!). i'll give it another try...

Debbie said...

oh...we love sunflower sprouts too. lovely pics and I appreciate your time line. now I know it's not just our sprouts that take so long. :)

tiff said...

awesome...i have never done sunflower seeds for sprouting and eating...sounds like a great way to get some green in your meal! i am going to give it a try!

Tara said...

I've never tried this but it's a fascinating process. So rewarding to see some green sprouts at this time of year as well.

Shady Lady said...

Very interesting! I never thought of doing this. I wonder...I sprout beans without dirt. (I do the soaking and rinse a few times a day.) Have your ever tried sprouting sunflower seeds without dirt? I've got to give it a try...either with or without dirt. Yum!

denise said...

I have tried without dirt and it was not successful. This is more than just sprouts, it is really microgreens, so I think they need to establish a root and stem. I grow a lot of microgreens/mini greens and have tried several kinds of soil-less medium...the latest was rock blocks made from, well, rock, but not a big fan of that.

If you want to just sprout sunflower seeds without getting to leaf stage, you can buy the hull-less seeds in some sprouting catalogs too. THen they don't have that hard hull they need to shed, and you can simply soak/sprout and eat before they develop any leaves! :)

I can grow short batch wheatgrass without any soil at all just fine- sprouted seeds placed in trays misted often with kelp water. :)

denise said...

Oh - and here is the link for hulled sunflower seeds to just sprout (not grow to greens)::


Shady Lady said...

Hmmmmm....I'd like the greens. I guess I've got to do the dirt. Thanks Denise!!

Julie said...

We sprout the hull-less kind on occasion, but we've never done it this way. Thanks for the tips!

Anonymous said...

I have never heard of eating those! Gotta get some seeds and test it out. Looks amazing.