Don’t ignore the ubiquitous sprouts or microgreens when you are wondering what you can grow in your tiny apartment! You can grow sprouts in an little corner of any room, even the kids’ rooms and snip the green tops off for the trendy ‘micro-greens’ as you need them.
If you buy your seed in bulk (keep in a dry place to stop it sprouting when you don’t want it to) the exercise will work out to be a cheap one as well as nutritious and delicious but make sure they ARE seeds for sprouting and beware of sprouting seeds for planting in earth as they are usually dipped or sprayed with chemicals. Ask your health food store for some sprouting seeds. Note that if they go mouldy, throw them out for the birds. They can have the same toxins as peanuts and cause allergic reactions. You can grow microgreens from normal seeds.
Almost anything is sproutable:
Radishes, red clover, wheat, soy beans, sunflowers, chia, mustard, watercress/cress, barley, broccoli, buckwheat, cabbage, fenugreek, garbanzo, green peas, lentils, mung beans (found in Chinese food), radishes, red clover, wheat, soy beans, sunflowers, and various lettuces. My mother also used to grow silverbeet and spinach and pick it when it was tiny plus beetroot.
Choose a container and a spot to grow your sprouts. The container can be a Fowlers Vacola preserving jar with a wide mouth. Put some cheese cloth over the top and a rubber band around that. (you can buy special multi level sprouting boxes of plastic but somehow I could never make these work).
Don’t start either project if you expect to be away from home as the seed needs rinsing (or in the case of the micro-greens, spraying with a misting bottle) three times a day. You need to keep the seed damp. (not soggy wet).
Room temperature – not cold or hot!
For the sprout jar, put ½ cup seeds in the jar.
Cover the jar with the muslin. Rinse the seed in lukewarm water. Drain and refill 2 cm above the seeds. Cover with a towel to keep the light out and soak overnight.
Next day start the rinsing routine. I would rinse them just before preparing breakfast, lunch and dinner. Or of you work out of the house, make that breakfast, dinner and before bedtime. Shake the jar to spread the seeds around. After 3 days, the seeds will have sprouted and will fill the jar and when you rinse, the hulls (of the seeds that have hulls) will float to the top. You can remove them a bit at a time or leave it till you harvest by rinsing in a colander, tipping them in a basin and filling it to free the rest of the hulls which then will float to the top. Scoop off with a slotted spoon.
If you want them to green up, put them into a ziplock bag and spread them out well and leave them in a brightly lit patch of indirect sun (like in a fernery). When you like their colour, eat them!
You can store these in the fridge for a week.
Alternatively, start a small, clean earth seedling box with new organic potting soil or a peat moss mat and put this on your verandah or somewhere you can care for it. This is not strictly speaking for sprouting, but for growing micro-leaves (lettuce etc.). For this, just follow the instructions on normal seed packs but harvest at the time they say to prick out the newly sprouted seedlings.
You will need a nice sunny spot and your greens will be ready to eat in three to five weeks depending on what you grow. A wooden fruit crate is terrific but put a tray beneath (from the $2 or op shop) to catch the drips. Tip the potting soil into your box around 10 cm deep and water with Seasol. Plant the seeds in nice neat rows or just scatter all over the soil. If you put a sheet of glass over it will keep it moist and make a little greenhouse but beware of mould in this case. Better to mist spray whenever you can to keep the soil moist not soggy.
Lettuces and beets will put up more leaves if you snip with care. Snip when 4-6 cm high and leave a bit on the plant. Be selective and enjoy your harvest! The box can last for several seasons if you coax the seedlings along.
With the micro-greens, just snip them with kitchen scissors and use what you need but keep the crop going. You can stagger plantings and never run out.
Note that cress and mustard as well as wheat grass will grow on cotton-wool as will many of the others including chia. These are really handy to have as garnishes and a bit of winter greenery. Just sprinkle them on cotton-wool which is damp and keep it like that. Or onto a terracotta plate which you can keep wet.
Very handy, tasty and will save you quite a bit in fresh food wastage.