Sprouting Countertop Gardens
You've probably admired a garden or two in your lifetime. I know I sure have! Wouldn't it be nice not to have to wait in line at a grocery store every few days? If you are one of those with big dreams and small spaces, you will love this edition of countertop gardening made easy!
Countertop gardening is fast, fun, and easy. You may not have a large garden right now, but you can still enjoy growing fresh food packed with vitamins and minerals no matter where you live. Most anyone can have access to fresh high nutrient-dense food for health if they know a few secrets.
People enjoy growing their own food for many reasons, but one of the top reasons is a desire to be more self-sufficient and control what is and is not being used on their food. Most want to avoid pesticides. Hopefully, like me, you also value your health, and the idea of pesticides in or on your food isn't your idea of "healthy eating." After seeing toilet paper shortages and food and water lines this last year, I know for me at least, the concept of self-sufficiency is essential, even if on a micro-scale.
If you have ample space for gardening and you dream of growing your food, you'll also appreciate this introductory section on growing power-packed nutrient food on your countertop because
what you learn here today will help you plan and develop your herbs, foods, and gardens in the future! We're about to learn a simple foundation that will play a role in the upcoming series on gardening.
We know conventional commercial farms use pesticides, but certified organic farms are testing positive for pesticides as well. Did you know that organic farms use high amount of herbicides? Herbicides are not good for us either. The soil of both types of farming result in an imbalance of essential nutrients and hinder certain needed microbes for "healthy living soil." Too much of a bad thing is bad but too much of a good thing -herbicides in this case, is bad too. You have heard the expression "The dose makes the poison?" Well herbicides are used in much higher proportions than even pesticides- which I don't enjoy at all. Both have been linked to cancer and both are not good for the human body. I will say that without them we wouldn't be able to feed the world at this point. But I prefer the idea of being more self sufficient and less dependent on "big agra". Organics is turning into big agra at this point and while I agree with organic foods- on some level, I have studied the issues and for my own health prefer home grown or local small farmed foods when possible.
Neither organic nor conventional farming practices in the United States resolve the issue of produce crops being grown for "yield" instead of "nutrients. Growing for nutrients takes time and, time is money. It's wonderful that we have non-GMO produce options available today; however, the use of herbicides in high concentrations (which has been shown to disrupt the mitochondria of bugs and humans and is linked to cancer in humans too) is poured over organic plants. I am not sure people realize this or not. I don't like pesticides on my food either of course (I don't think I need to explain the problems with pesticides). The high concentrated herbicides and minuscule but damaging pesticides pass into the soil, causing a host of imbalance and toxic problems. The issues are too many for me to cover here but look up "organic herbicides cause cancer" and "soil & herbicides problems" and you can learn more.
THE GOOD NEWS
Smaller farms (and some commercial & organic farms) are starting to take note of soil health by realizing that todays practices result in loss of nutrients. Some are starting to grow what's called "cover crops." Cover crops help "soil health" and "soil health" help plants fend off bugs and weeds reducing the need for pesticides and herbicides in the first place. Farmers learning about "soil health" is really good news...
The fact that 1 to 20% of farmers in the USA are starting to consider "soil health" and our future generations means our food may improve over time. We'll learn about the benefits of cover crops and soil health in a later blog because you may want to grow using this method as well. I will share with you as I grow my own gardens, herbs and food, so you can see what it's like growing foods different ways.
USING PLANTS AESTHETICS TO CREATE GOOD MOOD!
Another good reason to grow your seeds, plants, flowers, fruits - is for aesthetics. Living plants bring so much joy and many benefits to all creatures including us humans. Green things bring a natural calming feel to a space, filter the air, bring aromatherapeutic benefits to our mind and body through our sense of smell- even when we aren't aware- so neat! There's some fascinating science taking place on this very subject- smelling trees!
Have you heard of "forest bathing" or "Shinrin-yoku?" It's a type of forest bathing aromatherapy. Forest-bathing boosts well-being and test-taking according to the research done in Japan. Pine forests give off a constituent particularly noted in the study. I enjoy sitting around my own garden and house plants-and I often forest-bath through hiking on a regular basis. It calms my mind beautifully. Nature invites us to her calm beauty and teaches so us much about ourselves. Nature baths allow creativity of thought to flourish and new productive ideas to gently come forward-something I find quite enjoyable and healing.
GROW! GROW! GROW!
It would be challenging for most of us to grow everything all in one day, but we can start small and enjoy it right away! Here's what we are going to start with- a little countertop crop! Yay! Packed with tons of nutrients to ensure we supply our body with trace mineral, vitamins, and life producing enzymes! I hope to inspire and educate you on the benefits and importance of growing a countertop crop too.
HERE'S WHAT YOU'LL NEED TO GET STARTED
1. SPROUTING SEEDS!
You'll want to get non-GMO organic sprouting seeds. I like the mix of seeds that you'll find online. They have a little bit of everything, and you can decide what you'll get more or less of next time. You can grow a little tabletop crop that is more than you'll eat in a week or even a month right on your countertop for less than twenty-five cents a day! It's up to you how many varieties you want and the amounts, but sprouting is simple and easy and you can start today.
HEALTH AND SPROUTING BENEFITS
One of the most potent ways to get trace minerals, vitamins, and nutrients (including essential fatty acids and proteins (often missing and low in conventional and organic food) is by sprouting. The tiny seed has a powerhouse of nutrients to sustain the growth and development of the plant without any soil. When we eat those little tiny sprouted plants we harness the power packed vitamins and nutrients inside the tiny little miraculous seed. The seed has to sprout for us to get the benefits. Have you ever tried to grow a cooked seed? It can't grow because it's dead. But when we consume living foods we consume living properties. That is very beneficial for our body.
The seeds in the pictures are a mix. They are organic and include mung beans, clover, alfalfa, and radish seeds. You can make or choose your own mix but make sure it's specifically for sprouting; otherwise, you may be disappointed. Later on, you can sprout and grow all kinds of other fun things like lentils, grains, and even nuts!
SPROUTING AND POWER OF DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
According to sproutnet.com."Digestive enzymes help the digestive process to assimilate proteins, carbohydrates, and fat. In 1930, only 80 enzymes were identified; in 1970, more than 1,300 enzymes were known. By now, over 4,000 have been found- and counting. If we do not get enzymes with our daily food to aid our digestion, our body's digestive enzymes will carry enzymes the complete load, depleting the limited resources in our body. Enzymes have a vital activity factor that is exhaustible, and our capacity to make enzymes is limited". Sprouts are a complete protein. "Untreated natural sprouts have the power to build nerves, tissue, bones, and blood."
The human body is fearfully and wonderfully made! Many mysteries and mechanism are still stumping the science of plants today! Put good things into your beautiful machine of a body and it will bless you with health and longevity. Sprouts is a sure way to vibrant health.
We will learn how to grow the nutrients your body needs to help with mood, food sensitivities, energy, pain, and more. Headaches, allergies, depression, mental issues, lack of joy, ADHD, obesity, food cravings, and being over or underweight (believe it or not) can all be caused by lacking a balance in your vitamin, mineral, and enzyme nutrient uptake. Because it's not WHAT you eat- its what you ABSORB that makes one healthy! Along with a calm spirit and mind...
It's not what you eat that makes you healthy; it's what you absorb!
People living in the USA are nutrient-starved (malnourished).
Can you believe that? Here in America! Americans are eating more calorie for calories, but we are, as a nation, still nutrient-starved! Nutrient starved bodies are more prone to dis-ease and premature aging, and worse. A body that becomes nutrient-starved can arise either from a gut imbalance or an abundance of stress (which affects the limbic system, which controls all organs and functions in the body, including brain and heart). Malnourishment can also arise from eating nutrient-deficient foods.
The good news is that you can balance your body by supercharging your food.It takes a little will and a little knowledge. Happy body, happy mind, equals a much more fulfilling life! If you are willing to turn off your shopping channels, games shows, TV, movies, NEWS and start prioritizing the laws of nature and your body, you can create a pretty amazing life!
By sprouting, you are supercharging your food and getting a hit of the vitamins, trace minerals, nutrients, and enzymes your brain and body need to deal with stress and the things we encounter daily. Enjoy clearer thinking, better memory, better metabolization of foods and fats- the list is endless- truly. Here's why that matters.
COOKED FOODS LACKS ENZYMES
So, sprouts are full of enzymes that aren't present in cooked food because cooking foods above 118 degrees kills enzymes. According to the late Dr. William Peavy - a soil expert shares that "sprouting increases enzyme up to forty-three percent more times than non sprouted foods!" Wow! We basically have a multi vitamin in eating freshly sprouted foods!
Including more sprouts and healthy living foods helps to break down beans, grains, and all kinds of other foods into nutrients and provides us with the trace minerals often lacking in most diets. If you are eating large amounts of cooked foods without a balance of fresh green leafy foods and lightly steamed foods, you are likely, as most Americans- malnourished. Enzymes help our body break down vitamins and nutrients that our body needs and helps get them into our cells. Without nutrients and enzymes our body is unable to break down the trace minerals into nutrients for the cells of our body. Cells can't do their job without getting the proper enzymes. It's vital to be getting our enzymes daily.
Enzymes help with food sensitivities and leaky gut.
People who experience food sensitivities may lack a balanced gut biome (enzymes) in their stomach and intestines. They may have a leaky gut, and they may be confused about what foods to eat because they get reactions- which creates a lot of confusion and an added stress response. The limbic system then "records" this response, and the person can get headaches, welts, and other life-threatening reactions because the body goes into "fight or flight." It's often fixable. I myself recovered from severe food allergies (I was down to 5 foods that I could eat without getting allergic responses- due to anxiety and stress, hormone changes, and a foreign substance that entered my body and created a perfect storm) and have many friends who have similar "storms" and who have also regained their foods back. You can email me for more info on how I did that, and rest in the knowledge that it is also possible for some diagnosed with Celiac, being diagnosed with supposed Methylation problems, and food allergies, to all recover foods lost from an overactive body response. For now let's move on.
Read the top 20 reasons why sprouts are beneficial here
A "balanced diet" consists of food choices that benefit the body & mind
EAT TO LIVE INSTEAD OF LIVING TO EAT
Life is a party until someone gets diagnosed with cancer or a disease. Then everything comes to a halt. Making better decisions today helps us smile- not hurt tomorrow. Eating to live instead of living to eat is making a wise decisions both for you and your loved ones today. Delayed gratification and changing our preferences as as easy as creating a new habit- with a little practice and encouragement we can make it happen. Sprouting and eating healthy can help your mental state as well as your physical state by bringing nutrients back into your body which feed the brain and blood and help with stress and hormone imbalance.
Addiction (including food addiction) is a part of our culture these days- and companies know exactly how to keep us craving and coming back for more. Commercials are riddled with celebrations of extravagant foods and dinner parties, BBQ cook-outs and the convenience of eating out which result in overconsumption of some of the worst foods for healthy minds and spirits. We are more overworked and stressed these days and news doesn't help. This kind of living may be mainstream but it's hard on the body. There are many other ways we can enjoy life! Growing food and getting in touch with nature brings us back to simplicity and appreciation while reducing stress at the same time.
NUTRITIONAL CONTENT OF FRESH FOOD VS YOUR GROCERY STORE
Purchasing produce plucked off of the tree or plant while still green or unripe (a common practice in commercial farming) affects the nutritional content of that produce. However, when we grow our own food we have it fresh off the "vine" daily! We need a variety of vitamins, nutrients, trace minerals, and enzymes to live healthily. Home grown freshly picked food is higher in enzymes and nutrition. Here's why- University of California studies show that "vegetables can lose 15 to 55 percent of vitamin C, for instance, within a week. Some spinach can lose 90 percent within the first 24 hours after harvest."
We may not all be able to grow all our own extravagant garden farms but we may all have access to fresh foods grown by us and picked right from our own countertop crop by sprouting. But what if you are struggling with food allergies and can't eat plants, seeds or beans? Sprouting stops the phytic acid which is what many people are sensitive to due to not having enough enzymes in their digestive tracks.
When someone struggles with food sensitivity, they usually are stressed and or eat the same foods day after day, week after week, month after month. It may even be "healthy food" depleted of nutrients because it's grown in a large commercial production farm where they are more concerned with higher yields than they are with soil quality. Remember, the soil is "alive" and where plants get their food- so do you and I! High nutrient-dense soil makes nutrient-dense food for the plants to consume and visa versa. Sprouting is an ingenious way for us to consume high amounts of nutrients- even without soil, but they need to be freshly sprouted! Don't forget the longer foods sit on the truck and shelves in the store, the more Vitamin C, enzymes, and other vital vitamins are lost. Check out these pictures below!
Here's a few of my sprouts and what you want to consider before getting started with your countertop crop and sprouting adventures!
2. A SPROUTING CONTAINER
This is my "sprouting tray."
Sprouting containers come in all kind of shapes and sizes online. You don't have to buy one if you don't want to either. You can simply use jars with cloths on top but you will need a way to drain them after you rinse them (see some ideas at the end of this blog for more DIY. Cheese cloth or a T-shirt works. My tray has little tiny holes that allow the filtered water I pour over the seeds to pass through and over the levels underneath and into a little bottom container that I empty after it drains to the bottom level. Some people like glass jars, other like fancy trays, and others do something in between. The object is to soak the seeds in water over night and lets them drain afterwards. I don't always soak small seeds. I just pour water on the seeds and and let nature do its thing unless it's a bean- then I soak over night first to speed up germination. Seeds-not so much.
NOTE: DO NOT SPROUT RED KIDNEY BEANS. THOSE WILL GET YOU VERY SICK IF EATEN RAW. KIDNEY BEANS MUST BE COOKED THOROUGHLY. But you may sprout a lot of other types of beans such as lentils, black beans, garbanzo or chick peas, mung beans, nuts and many other lovely beans and seeds.
3. A PLACE TO BUY SPROUTING SUPPLIES
Handy Pantry Sprouting Store The picture below is what my "sprouting tower" looks like when stacked on my countertop (see below). I lost the solid white lid that normally goes on top so I improvised with a Tupperware lid. You can improvise too. This little sprouting tower is perfect for my countertop. I bought it off Amazon a long time ago I think. It yields more than I can eat in a month! You don't want to crowd seeds too much. You'll want to leave room so you can enjoy the sprouts when they grow. I recommend a half teaspoon at most on each level. If it's gets too crowded with seeds, you'll end up wasting sprouts and also may get some stinky smells. You want oxygen to be able to circulate. If you use a tall jar you can go up to a tablespoon or more and get a great yield of spouts and micro-greens! They become micro-greens if you keep letting them grow. They become plants if you want to transplant some outside and get more crop (and seeds!).
Sprouts do best in the dark at first and then when you see green little leaves you want to green them up in the ambient light. You can get grow lights if you want to get all fancy but it's not necessary. I throw a hand towel over mine after I fill the trays with seeds. Once you start seeing little tails poke out you can move them into the regular natural light on your countertop. You will want to rinse them in the morning and at night if possible. Rinsing multiple times a day is great but 1-2 times is all you truly need. I find they smell better with multiple washing but many folks do not do this so it's up to you. 1-2 times a day is what I recommend and more if you have the time. IMPORTANT! The little furry tails you see are not mold! I made that mistake when I first started sprouting! I threw them away over and over again until I looked it up online and found out that's the way the sprouts grow! They get fuzzy on certain kinds of seeds. Not to worry! Its part of the seed tail.
Here's a few pics to see what your sprouts should look like in about 4 days.
1/2 Teaspoon of sprouts after 5-7 days. It's good to start slow with less seeds and then decide how creative you want to be with your sprouts. Mung beans sprouts below are the larger bean sprouts you see in the mix and are the most mild tasting and go with everything food-wise. Radish sprouts are more spicy tasting but can be nice with certain foods. A lot of people prefer them lightly steamed. Alfalfa are some of my favorites too. Mild and nice for sandwiches and salads.
These sprouts were partially sprouted on my countertop and then I let them keep growing in the refrigerator. They tend to keep longer when you store them in the fridge. It also slows the growth if you want to space out your cooking needs. These sprouts came out fresh, crunchy and delicious! I put them on my salads and added them to already cooked soups at the very end after pouring soup into bowls for me and my husband. I add sprouted seeds and beans at the end of soup making process to make sure that the sprouts weren't heated- just raw, full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes - and life!
Ideas for use with sprouts
Toss on salads or make pita sandwiches. You may also want to create your own sprouted wheat bread from sprouted grains. It will require an additional step of dehydrating. You will want to keep the heat of your drying method at "living foods" temperature (which is under 118F or 47.7 Celsius). There are many ways to enjoy sprouted foods.
Overview of how to get started:
Get jars and cloth or porous material so you can fill and drain sprouts easily
Use filtered water if possible
Create a space on your countertop.
Allow nature to take its course!
You can eat sprouts as soon as you see a little buds poke out of the germ or seed.
Here's some different set up ideas!
You can buy ready made or invent a DIY sprouting method! It doesn't really matter! As long as you have a little designated spot you will get sprouts either way!
And here's what you get!
You can enjoy some beautifully colorful healthy sprouted foods! The beauty if that its so simple you can do this with kids or family and friends. You can enjoy the new growths and buds- its really fun! You will be learning and growing your own food and enjoying better health and more independence- something I truly cherish and hope you will enjoy too!
The vitamins and trace minerals you will get from sprouting is maximized. If you want to learn more about that click here
I hope you enjoyed learning about sprouting! Until Next time!
Happy Healthy Living!
Love, Michelle of Me and a Tree
"Skincare in Harmony with Nature & Earth"
Did I leave something out? Want to share your gardening stories with me? Leave a comment below or email me!