Dietary Seed Sprouting Guide updated

A basic guide to sprouting for optimum health
Compiled by Jenny Marsh — Updated 05 Nov 06
This page gives some basic but important information on how to grow your own seed sprouts, which are known to be one of the most nutritious wholefoods.

AT A RECENT WEEKEND workshop on raw food here in London, a leaflet was handed out giving instructions on sprouting seeds. This leaflet could be very helpful to a lot of people so we reproduce it here so our readers can get sprouting!

Please note that conditions favourable for sprouting are also favourable for bacterial growth and so it is important to use clean jars and new cloth for the top of the jars when sprouting, and to rinse the sprouts regularly.

For the sprouting of seeds in jars or trays. The seeds are grown hydroponically (this means without earth — grown only in water).

  1. Measure out a third of a cup of alfalfa seeds or one cup of sunflower sees or one cup of fenugreek seeds.
  2. Put each different type of seeds in a separate jar and cover jar with a square of mosquito screening (very thin cloth) and attach with rubber band.
  3. Fill jar or jars with water three quarters full through the screening and allow the seeds to soak for 12 to 24 hours. Put the jars on a shelf or window out of direct sunshine in a room that is well ventilated.
  4. After 12 to 24 hours, tip jars upside down and allow water to drain out. Then refill jars with fresh water and drain again. Do this until the colour of the water is totally clear. You may have to do this 4 or 5 times.
  5. The next stage is the sprouting stage where you need to place the washed and drained seeds upside down at a 45 degree angle. This allows the water to drip out through the screening. Place the jars over a sink or somewhere where the seeds can drain while they are sprouting.
  6. Continue to wash and drain seeds thoroughly at least twice or three times each day for about 3 days.
  7. When the seeds have developed little "tails" which are the rootlets then you have the choice of either continuing to grow the sprouts in the jars or you can put the sprouted seeds in the seed trays. You may also eat them at this stage as well although not the sunflower seeds as they are still covered by seed coats.
  8. To grow the seeds in seed trays, thoroughly wash the seeds first as you have been doing for the last few days before spreading them in the seed trays. Once the sprouts are thoroughly washed take off elastic band and remove screening. Turn each jar upside down into seed tray and empty contents of jar into seed tray. Spread sprouting seeds evenly in seed tray covering the bottom of the tray with the seeds.
  9. Place seed tray with seeds spread in the bottom on top of a catering tray which will catch the drips through the holes of the seed trays. Then put a propagating clear plastic lid covering the seed tray like a little greenhouse.
  10. Place seed trays with propagating lids with drip tray in a well ventilated area away from direct sunlight. This will be where you will be growing your seedlings on. Wash them 3 times a day.
  11. Each morning and evening remove the clear plastic propagating lids from the seed trays and put the seed trays and catering trays into an area where you can gently spray the seedlings. This process is to wash the seedlings as much as you need to water them. The washing is extremely important. Make sure your seedlings are washed until the drip water is completely clear. Then put the clear plastic propagating trays back on to the seedling trays and put the seedling trays back on the catering trays and place back in their growing area. Do this twice daily. Make sure when you wash the growing seedlings you disturb them as little as possible and do not spray with too much force but a very gentle spray of water.
  12. The sunflowers will take 2-3 weeks to mature and will grow up about 4 inches before harvesting. To harvest take a pair of scissors and cut just above the roots. The part to eat is the stalk and leaves. They are best grown up to 4 - 5 inches and will still only have their original 2 seedling leaves. Once more leaves develop they are not so juicy or tasty. When they have the 2 leaves only they are sweet and juicy and can be used in juices and salads and in wraps.
  13. The fenugreek and alfalfa seeds can be harvested after 4 - 5 days and the entire seedling with roots, little stalks and leaves can be eaten in their entirety. They are still edible when they have developed more leaves but they don't taste so juicy.


Extremely Important for Healthy Seedlings:

Always make sure that the soaking, sprouting or seed trays are in a well ventilated environment. If there is not good air circulation you will find that you will get fungus growing around the growing roots where it is wettest.

Always make sure that the seeds are able to drain freely and are not sitting in stagnant water except during the first 12 to 24 hours where the seeds are initially soaking.

Always wash seeds or seedlings at least twice each day, depending on heat of the day. In California, I washed and waterd the seeds 5 times each day because of the dry heat. A damp heat will not require so much watering but must be well ventilated.

Sprouting Chart (used at Hippocrates)

Seed Type Dry Measure Soak for Sprout for Yield Length at Harvest Tips


Nuts — soak in cool-to-warm water (no peanuts or cashews)
All 1 cup 12 hrs 0 hurs 2 cups None Store in water or fridge


Hulled Seed — soak in cool water
Hulled pumpkin 1 cup 4 hrs 24 hrs 2 cups 1/8"  
Hulled sunflower 1 cup 4 hrs 24 hrs 2 cups ¼ - ½"  
Hulled seasame 1 cup 4 hrs 12 hrs 1½ cups 1/8" Bitter if sprouted longer
Hulled buckwheat 1 cup 15 min 24 hrs 2 cups 1/8" Buy raw groats only


Small Grains (alkalizing grains) — soak in very-warm water
Amaranth 1 cup 3 hrs 24 hrs 3 cups 1/8" Aztecan grain
Millet 1 cup 5 hrs 12 hrs 3 cups 0 - 1/8" Most alkalizing
Quinoa 1 cup 3 hrs 24 hrs 3 cups ¼" Incan grain
Teff 1 cup 3 hrs 24 hrs 3 cups 1/8" Ethiopian grain


Large Grains (more acid-forming grains) — soak in very-warm water
Barley 1 cup 6 hrs 12 hrs 2½ cups None Will not sprout
Corn 1 cup 12 hrs 36 hrs 4 cups ½"  
Rye 1 cup 6 hrs 36 hrs 3 cups ¼"  
Spelt 1 cup 6 hrs 36 hrs 3 cups ¼" Primitive wheat
Triticale 1 cup 6 hrs 36 hrs 3 cups ¼" Hybrid of wheat and rye
Wheat 1 cup 6 hrs 36 hrs 3 cups ¼"  


Beans & Legumes — soak in very-warm water to convert starches
Adzuki ½ cup 8 hrs 3 days 4 cups 1" Grow under pressure
Mung 1/3 cup 8 hrs 4 days 4 cups 2" Grow under pressure
Chickpeas 1 cup 12 hrs 3 days 4 cups 1" Complete protein
Lentils ¾ cup 8 hrs 3 days 4 cups 1"  
Green peas 1½ cups 8 hrs 3 days 4 cups 1"  
Lima 2 cups 12 hrs 12 hrs 4 cups 0"  
Pinto 1 cup 12 hrs 3 days 4 cups 1"  
Northern white 1½ cups 12 hrs 12 hrs 4 cups 0"  


Small Vegetables (develop chlorophyll) — saok in cool water
Alfalfa 3 Tbsp 5 hrs 5 days 4 cups 2"  
Cabbage 3 Tbsp 5 hrs 5 days 4 cups 1½"  
Clover 3 Tbsp 5 hrs 5 days 4 cups 2"  
Fenugreek ¼ cup 6 hrs 5 days 4 cups 2" Dissolves mucous
Garlic ¼ cup 5 hrs 5 days 3 cups 1" Milder than bulb garlic
Kale ¼ cup 5 hrs 5 days 4 cups 1"  
Mustard 3 Tbsp 5 hrs 5 days 4 cups 1½" Spicy
Onion ¼ cup 5 hrs 5 days 3 cups 1½"  
Radish 3 Tbsp 6 hrs 5 days 4 cups 2" Spicy
Turnip 3 Tbsp 6 hrs 4 days 4 cups 1½"  


Happy Sprouting!