As part of our on-going hydroponics project (our lettuce is down to its last few leaves, but one of our tomatoes has just flowered) we tried growing sprouts. Like many technologies I’ve been playing around with the last couple years (vermiculture, hydroponics, solar and wind energy, toys made from recycled materials), it’s hard to find information – at least for kids — that doesn’t date back to the 1970s. So for our first batch I went back to the method I used as a young tree-hugger and set up a system with a canning jar and a piece of pantyhose. (Gentlemen, do not borrow the GeekWife’s pantyhose without asking. I happened to have many pristine unused pairs lying around.) We had very good results with both alfafa and radish seeds, the only kind of sprouting seeds available at our local health food store. (Good results meaning, one of my two kids actually decided he likes them.)
But then in researching different kinds of sprouts I came across a great resource called SproutPeople.com. An online retail site devoted to organic sprouts, they had detailed information on growing beans, broccoli, nuts, and alliums (onions and garlic). They even have a Kid’s Sprout Kit, which comes with a two-level tray and four single-harvest-sized bags of gourmet mixes: Moo Mix (alfalfa and clover), Pea Carnival (five varieties), Beanie’s
Awesome Mix (peas, lentils, garbanzos, adzuki, and more), and Sweet Wheat. I asked them for a sample kit so I could try out the 21st century version of sprout growing.
The Kid’s Kit tray set-up is easy to use. Just pour in the seeds, rinse, and set in a shady corner. Of course, I messed it up by using two different types of seeds without reading the directions carefully enough to see that they needed different growing times. By the time our Moo Mix was ready, the Beanie’s Awesome Mix was climbing out of the tray. The bean/pea mix had gotten bitter too, but they were fine in scrambled eggs and stir fry. The alfafa/clover sprouts are great on salads and sandwiches. I can’t wait to sprout the Sweet Wheat to try in homebaked bread.
The Kid’s Sprout Kit is $14.92 and includes a mini-magnifying glass, directions, plant info for kids, and recipes.
Kathy Ceceri also blogs about learning Life Science with her kids at Home Biology.