The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Sprouting old garden seeds for animals

Sprouting seeds

While cleaning up my unruly bookshelf, I discovered several large containers of homegrown vegetable seeds from 2012. I planted some in 2013, kept the containers as backup for 2014 just in case my next round of seeds didn't work...but here it is 2015 and the seeds are still there. So I decided to sprout them as a special treat for the goats and chickens.

With large seeds like this, my current favorite method for mass-sprouting is to soak the seeds in water for 12 to 24 hours, then pour them out in a colander and leave them in the sink. Whenever I think about it (usually two or three times a day), I splash on some fresh water and shake the colander around a bit. In our cool kitchen, mung beans sprout fully in about a week using this method, and hopefully my current combination of green beans, peas, swiss chard, summer squash, and okra will do the same. I'll keep you posted once I find out if our livestock appreciate the extra attention.

As a side note, I did a little research to determine whether any vegetable seeds are poisonous, and found very little data. I'm operating under the assumption that seeds we consume as part of the vegetable (beans, summer squash, peas) are edible even when mature and dried, while plants that we eat as greens (swiss chard) are also edible in the sprout stage. I might steer clear of feeding livestock tomato sprouts since their foliage is semi-poisonous and I definitely wouldn't sprout apple or peach seeds for animals, but otherwise, my guess is that most vegetable seeds are safe. I'd be curious to hear from anyone who has further data, though!

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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I'm not sure, but I think kidney bean sprouts may be poisonous.
Comment by Deb R Wed Jan 21 21:49:56 2015
Deb --- Good point! To some extent, all dried beans are poisonous, but kidney and scarlet runner beans are among the worst offenders. Sprouting reduces the toxins, but not quite as much as cooking, I believe. One site says that it's safe to sprout and eat lentils, peas, mung beans, and chick peas, but that you probably won't want to eat sprouted beans of other types uncooked. (Of course, quantity is also an issue --- a few sprouted beans might not hurt you, especially if you steer clear of kidney beans.)
Comment by anna Thu Jan 22 20:51:35 2015

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