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Sprouting in the UK


If you have a question about sprouting email me at sallyholloway(a)cheerful.com  Here's some recent questions...

I used to have to water my alfalfas twice a day and my red clover three times a day. Now that has reversed. Any explanation?

Me too, me too. A friend alerted me to the not needing to water red clover so much, and I had discovered the alfalfa for myself.  I think that different countries, with different climates will  produce slightly different seeds with slightly different needs and so things change from time to time.  Obviously I didn't know that when I wrote my book and I am producing an insert  to let people know.  The other thing is that quinnoa and hulled (grey) sunflower are sprouting again! In my book I say that you used to be able to sprout them and then that changed. Well it's changed back again. Good news of course, but infuriating when you have boxes and boxes of book that state that you can't!

What are your thoughts on eating sprouts raw, as the NHS choices website recommends that you don't eat them raw as they have salmonella and e.coli on them which obviously harmful. Your advice would be welcomed.

Yes, I do eat mine raw most of the time. Salmonella and ecoli are not natually in the seeds or the sprouts and can only get on them through human contact, and when that happens unfortunately sprouting trays provide a lovely growing environment, being warm and wet. I buy most of my seeds (sunflower, red clover and broccoli) from Aconbury Sprouts, they rigourously test their batches and I do not touch the seeds or plants prior to eating, I just pour them in the tray soak and then water them. The EEC have now produced rules that sprouting seeds must be traceable and suppliers are all aware of the problem and are extra vigilant. I buy mung and lentil from the health food shop and I do eat them raw.  I have been doing that for 10 years without incident but we all have to make our own choices. You can buy all your seeds from Aconbury if you want to be sure, or you could cook mung and lentil in the tops of soups or in stir frys, they are still healthier than non sprouted beans and cooking ensures safety. All sprouting seed producers are aware of this potential problem and are extra vigilant these days.

Can I put black sunflowers in the sprouting tray? I have read that they need compost...
I know some people say you can't grow them hydrophonically (without soil) but that's because they haven't worked out the rules. They need watering 3 times a day and do not want to be in a stack of trays, I always do them one level only or you can have them as your top tray. In the picture of me (in the header) I am holding two trays of sunflower sprouts, grown from black seeds and to the left of that are sunflowers growing as the top tray of the stack. The black you can see in the trays are discarded seeds (I know it looks like compost).

I have sprouted on and off for years now, and have a circular tiered sprouting tray. What I'm finding of late, (and I have to confess, has halted my sprouting motivation), is that the smaller seeds fall through the slats in the sprouting tray and get washed down the sink when I rinse.  Since I'd really like to sprout broccoli, I am disheartened to see it all disappear down the plughole. I find that alfalfa is inclined to do this as well. Was wondering if you could recommend a sprouting tray that works for you...or let me know how you get on with sprouting broccoli?

I have lost a few of the smaller seeds that way but not many. If I do notice a few go through when I water then then I pour what's in the drip tray back through. I wonder if it's because I soak the seeds first which makes them swell up, or that that the slats in your circular tray are bigger? I use the Being Fare sprouting tray but I can't imagine the slats are any different but it's worth noticing that next time you are buying a sprouting tray.

Can I sprout non-organic beans and seeds?

I don't usually because non-organic beans may have been treated or contain pesticides and I eat my sprouts raw. If I was going to cook them I might be less worried. I have tried sprouting non-organic mung beans just to see how they did. The result was, although they did sprout they were more prone to mould than organic ones, which is counter intuitive for me, but confirmed that it's worth paying that bit extra for organic.

You say in your book to put your sprouting bags on a hot wash once a week. Some of us don’t do hot washes.
You can wash your sprouting bag in a bowl of hot water (from the kettle if possible) with a bit of washing powder or soda crystals. Swirl it round. This is a good way of doing it, cos you’ll see all the sprout debris and odd bits of fibre being released from the bag and you’ll know why it's important to wash it.


You put sunflower, red clover and broccoli greens in the same section in your book. I tried to grow them together and it didn’t quite work.
I put them in the same section because you sprout them in exactly the same way. However as you may have found out sunflowers greens take 4 -5 days longer to grow and are almost 3 - 5 times larger than the little broccoli or red clover. So keep sunflower separate but grow red clover and broccoli in the same tray. And by the way I often grow broccoli and sango raddish together for a spicy little mix that’s pretty too. See picture below.




You say growing sprouts in tubs means they might get sweaty. I just leave the lid off and they are fine.
That’s brilliant. I guess you have them in a place where flies and other insects can’t get to them. I can do this in winter but in summer I have to protect them. A clean tea towel over the top of the tub will do though.

You say you can grow sprouts in many household tubs can I grow them in old cat trays?
I wouldn't recommend it, even if they are unused. You need to only use containers that are 'food grade plastic' (or glass of course). Basically non-food grade plastic contain recycled plastics which could have been used for anything, and be contaminated with anything.  So seives are fine, as are food storage tubs and colanders but I don't think cat trays will be good.  I have only just been made aware of it and have included it in later versions of my book.

You say you can grow grass without soaking it first. I did that and it took forever.

Ah well I never said it would be quick. Basically soaking and sprouting wheatgrass grains speeds up the process (or actually forces the process outside of their natural growth cycle). Grains planted normally will sprout when they are ready and not before! Here’s what I think: if you have the time to soak and sprout your grass for 2 – 3 days before planting then do. Some people can only do stuff one day a week, so even though this method will take longer, they WILL end up with wheatgrass growing and if they put some in every week, eventually they will have a constant supply. One tip for if you have a little bit of time is to soak the grains first, even if you just soak for an hour it will help tell the seeds that it’s time to grow! And you can do that on Sunday morning and plant them Sunday evening.  Same goes for snow pea shoots. 


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