How to Grow Healthy Sunflower Sprouts in 2 Weeks
Sunflower micro greens are deliciously nutty with the flavour of raw sunflower seeds but with the texture of spinach. They are easy to grow in just about any container you can find around the house like clear plastic salad mix boxes. This post is a detailed set of instructions on how to grow deliciously, tasty sunflower microgreens that are healthy and (more importantly) safe to eat.
- makeshift mini greenhouse or a store bought version like this one
- organic black oil sunflower seeds
- clean seedling mix potting soil
- small salad spinner
No fancy equipment need for this high-brow salad trimming. I used a biodegradable plastic salad box (make sure it’s food safe by checking the plastic number here); it’s the perfect soil tray and greenhouse. You could also use a milk jug cut in half, a cake tray, chicken dome, or whatever you can imagine that would create a mini greenhouse. Of course, you can use a dome made specifically for growing microgreens like this one, the benefit being that it fits a standard seedling tray and has vents to allow humidity to regulate.
Grow healthy and yummy sprouts by starting with the best seeds and soil. Here are some tips to get you started:
Use organic black oil sunflower seeds specifically labeled for sprouting or grow your own! Many people want to use the ones that are packaged as birdseed and I strongly don’t recommend as they are not regulated for human consumption. I always buy my sprouting seeds from a trusted source that intends them for sprouting to ensure health safety. You certainly could use raw striped sunflower seeds sold as snack foods (as long as they aren’t roasted, salted, and still have shells). I’ve used them before and they work well. The black oil sunflower seeds taste a bit better, so if you like the striped ones, then venture out to try the others someday.
You don’t need much, but choose your soil wisely. I use a sterilized seedling mix because it’s light and clean. Why not just use garden soil?
- First, soil gnats! Ugh, those annoying little flies that you JUST CAN NOT CATCH NO MATTER HOW HARD YOU TRY should be enough of a reason, but there are more.
- Second, the microbes, bacteria, fungi and other goodies in garden soil may be gold for outdoor growing, but those little seeds have all they need to grow into a nice crunchy microgreen without any additional soil nutrition. Plus, some of what is in your soil may not play nice with your sprouts, growing mould and killing them before you get them on your salad.
- Third, you need soil that will stay moist but not soggy and seedling mix is made just for this.
Some people ask if you can grow them without soil which is sprouting vs. growing microgreens. I have done both and I much prefer sunflowers as microgreens. I get many more greens and they last longer. Do you see how the sunflowers push through the soil?
It helps to knock of the seed husks and this burst of energy also affects the flavour. Mung beans are like this as well, and to get the best flavour I put weights in my sprouter so the mung beans have to work. But I digress (you can read more about sprouting here), with sunflower microgreens I like top a wee bit of soil onto my seeds get get them to work.
Add about an inch of clean, indoor soil to the bottom tray, and spread sunflower seeds over the top. I generously cover the soil with seeds not letting any of them overlap. Cover the seeds with just enough soil to hold moisture and put in a warm place out of direct sunlight.
Water the soil and keep it moist but not soggy. You will want to keep some humidity in while the seeds are breaking open, but remove the lid a few times each day to refresh the air inside. Once the seedlings start to grow, remove the lid all together and let them enjoy the fresh air. Water only to moisten the soil, being mindful that over watering can cause rot and fungus growth.
The micro greens are ready to harvest when the mighty seedlings push up the soil, lose their shells, and grow two fat seed leaves. If all the shells don’t come off, I usually will tousle the tops of the seedlings to dislodge them at harvest time which knocks the rest off or I pick them off in the salad spinner when I wash them.
Snip the seedlings at the base and wash in a small salad spinner (I use this one). I generally keep them in the salad spinner after harvest so I can give them a rinse every few days. I spin them dry and store them in salad spinner in the fridge, as the colander inside promotes good drainage and prevents rot/mould.
Once the microgreens are harvested, compost the soil and roots as they will not regrow. To make a new batch, use clean, seedling mix start again. There may have been some contaminants that have entered the soil from the first batch, plus there will be roots decomposing in the soil that could compromise the new batch.
For more ideas, check out growing sunflower sprouts in photos over 17 days: Sunflower Micro Greens: A Time Lapse Photo Journal.
This is an older post I did on growing sunflower microgreens in a recycled chicken dome and while the photos are a bit of an embarrassment the comments are really helpful to read through.
Or check out this soil-less mung beans and green peas sprouting in a mason jar,
and in an automatic sprouter.
Get started sprouting with this deluxe kit packed with 12lbs of organic seeds!