greens | Growing Pea greens |
sprouts and greens - background
As there is
some confusion regarding terminology, it is best to begin by specifying sunflower
sprouts as hulled sunflower seeds that have been soaked and sprouted for a day
or so. Sunflower greens are the baby plants that result when unhulled seeds are
grown in soil, generally for 7-8 days.
One can think of the sprouts as pre-digested seeds. Unsprouted sunflower
seeds are high in fat and protein. However, sprouting activates the seed, with
many changes as it sprouts: dramatic increase in enzyme levels, seed fats are
converted to essential fatty acids and carbohydrates, proteins are converted to
essential amino acids and/or sugars, and vitamin levels (on a dry basis) increase
substantially. Due to their activate enzymes, sprouts are much easier to digest
than dry seeds. Further, as the seed sprouts its flavor is enhanced - sunflower
sprouts have an earthy flavor and are very popular.
While the sprouts are pre-digested seeds, the greens are a tender
baby vegetable, high in chlorophyll, and a substitute for lettuce. Sunflower greens
have a slightly salty taste that some compare to watercress. They are rich in
chlorophyll, enzymes, vitamins, proteins, and the most important "nutrient", the
life force. Some writers report the greens are a rich source of lecithin and Vitamin
D. Additionally, unlike most expensive freeze-dried supplements such as spirulina
and algae, sunflower greens that you grow are alive up to the time you eat them
(most freeze-dried items are dead).
Sunflower greens are a delicious addition to salads. Additionally,
they can be juiced and used in green drinks or added to carrot juice. If you find
the juice too strong by itself, you can mix it with celery juice or fennel juice
(can juice green fennel tops).
Producing sunflower sprouts and greens
Sunflower sprouts are produced using the methods one would use for
most seeds. Begin with hulled seeds, soak overnight in water. Then drain off the
loose inner hulls (important!), and put the soaked seed in the sprouting environment
- jars, cloth, or commercial sprouter, for about 1 day. Removing the inner hulls
is very important, as if left in, they will spoil and ruin your batch of sprouts.
The sprouting environment can be glass jars with plastic screen lids (propped
up at 45 degree angle), or the seed can be placed between damp cotton washcloths,
on flat-bottomed bowls or saucers.
Sunflower greens can be grown indoors, without soil (in jars or trays).
However for highest nutrient/life force content, it is suggested that they be
grown in soil, and in natural sunlight (or full spectrum grow lights). They can
be grown in soil on cafeteria trays, non-aluminum baking trays, or better still,
the plastic trays used by plant nurseries for growing seedlings. For soil, most
people use commercial soil or soil/peat mixes. It is suggested that you add a
small amount of rock dust (including lime), and/or kelp powder, to the soil to
enhance mineral content.
Now to plant the greens: starting with
unhulled sunflower seeds grown for human consumption (not for bird feed), soak
the seed overnight, then put them in the sprouting environment for 2 days, or
until the roots just start to emerge from the hulls. Then transfer the seeds to
a soil-filled flat. Spread seeds evenly on top of soil; do not cover with soil.
Water flat, cover with an empty flat, leave for 2 days. Then uncover seedlings
and expose to light. Water daily; the greens will be ready generally on day 7
or 8 (where soaking of seed is day 1). Be sure to harvest before the 2nd set of
leaves emerges, as they get very bitter and unpalatable after that. To harvest,
cut greens from tray with scissors, and remove any hard hulls that remain on the
Sunflower seed sprouts and greens can be a nutritious and delicious
part of a raw/living foods diet.
many thanks to Thomas E. Billings for much of the information above.
We grow Pea greens in our own compost.