As you may have seen in my previous posts, I have been successfully growing bell peppers and other plants indoors and in containers. However, this isn’t very successful in terms of feeding my family fresh, healthy vegetables. It takes months to get a ripe bell pepper and with my limited space indoors and a greenhouse still only in the planning stage, I wanted to do something more productive.
I surfed the internet and You Tubes videos until I stumbled upon sprouting Black Oil Sunflower Seeds (BOSS) Microgreens. Since we already have 40 lb bags on hand to feed our chickens, I figured there was no risk in trying it. After all, I could always use the sprouting trays for other gardening projects.
After some further research, I purchased germination trays without holes for the bottom and mesh bottom germination trays that sit inside them.
I had some peat moss on hand, so I mixed it with worm castings from my home made worm farm and pressed it firmly in the tray. If you need to purchase soil, I highly recommend FoxFarm FX14082 Happy Frog Soil Potting Soil Bag, 12 quart
“>Happy Frog Potting Soil. Two cups of BOSS are needed to fill one 10×20 sprouting tray. I chose to pre-soak mine to speed up germination. To prevent bacteria growth, I added a small amount of hydrogen peroxide to the soaking seeds on day one.
Including soaking the seeds overnight, the whole process took 12 days. After spreading the seeds in the tray, I spritzed them each morning and evening, keeping another solid tray pressed firmly on the seeds and covering them with heavy books. This forced the seeds to sprout down into the soil and anchored the roots. After a few days, I removed the top tray and allowed the sprouts to soak up the sun, continuing to mist them regularly. Step by step photos are at the end of this post.
The results were amazing! The BOSS greens are delicious, with a healthy protein packed crunch and a slightly sunflower kernel nutty flavor. So far we have used them for salads, snacks, soups, and sandwiches.
This gardening experiment was very successful in meeting my goals of high productivity and high return on investment. The cost of a 40 lb bag of BOSS is about $25 and yields 100 trays of greens. Besides the initial investment of growing trays, the only additional cost is peat moss. Not including the trays, which are heavy duty and can be used for years to come, the cost was about 8 cents per tray. Each tray yields a large bowl of greens (I didn’t weigh them) but estimate about 10 meals could be made using these greens in various ways or 5 large salads. The nutrition is so dense in these greens that they are more filling than typical greens you would buy at the store.
Here are some nutrition facts:
A 1/4-cup serving of the sprouts contains 16 grams of total fat, 2 grams of saturated fat, 8 grams of polyunsaturated fat, 6 grams of monounsaturated fat, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fiber and 6 grams of protein. While sunflower sprouts are high in fat, they contain mostly healthy unsaturated fats. Eating more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats in place of saturated fat may help keep your cholesterol level in check, according to the American Heart Association.
Sunflower sprouts are a good source of iron and can help you meet your daily calcium needs. A 1/4-cup serving meets 8 percent of the daily value for iron — 1.4 milligrams — and 2 percent of the daily value for calcium — 20 milligrams.