Growing Sprouts from Sunflower Seeds

Why wait for warm weather when a crop of fresh, healthy greens can be harvested in your own kitchen within a few days? Sunflower seeds yield nutty, crisp-flavor sprouts, perfect for tapenades, soups, and salads.

Early Spring Greens

You can grow microgreens any time of year for a burst of nutritious flavor for salads, sandwiches, stir-fries; just about anything you can imagine. All you need is a sunny spot inside your home, water, potting soil, and a shallow dish. Unlike sprouts, which are grown in a jar without soil, microgreens are grown in a planting medium and harvested by snipping off the tops.

Germinating Seeds

Striped sunflower seeds for sprouting are readily available at most garden centers or by seed mail-order specialists. To enhance germination, soak a handful of sunflower seeds for six to eight hours in a bowl of cool water. Rinse and drain the seeds when you see a tiny bit of root poking out.

Growing Sprouts

Spread the germinated seeds in organic potting soil (mixed with compost or worm castings if desired) on a shallow tray or dinner plate, distributing the seeds evenly. Cover with a thin layer of soil. Because they will never grow into big plants, they don't need to be planted in deep soil. Keep the sprouts moist and covered with an inverted dinner plate or dish towel for a day or two or until they start to grow stems.

Harvesting Your Sprouts

Once you can see leaves and stems, uncover the sprouts, set on a sunny windowsill, and make sure the soil does not dry out. Sunflower microgreens are ready to harvest when they have just a couple of seed leaves and are less than 3 inches tall (before they grow their second set of leaves). It takes approximately 12 days to grow sunflower microgreens. Cut them with a scissors, snipping just above soil level. Toss the soil and roots into the compost pile.


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