Leftover seeds from seasons past don’t need to be thrown away. Instead of composting questionable cabbage, onion, kale or lettuce seeds, try growing them into crisp sprouts or super-nutritious microgreens — a perfect project for winter’s darkest days.
What’s the difference between sprouts and microgreens? No soil is needed to grow sprouts, which are eaten whole. Beans, peas and alfalfa seeds are top candidates for sprouting.
Microgreens sprout in a thin layer of soil and only the fresh tops are eaten. The method works great with a long list of garden seeds including broccoli, cabbage, sunflowers and herbs like cilantro and dill.
Whether growing sprouts or microgreens, never eat sprouted tomatoes, peppers, eggplants or other closely related crops as they can be toxic.
Sprout and Eat Leftover Seeds:
- Place seeds for sprouting in a clean glass jar. Beans, peas, onions and radishes work well.
- Cover seeds with lukewarm water and let sit overnight.
- Pour out water and rinse seeds until water runs clear. Drain.
- Place seeds back in jar.
- Replace the lid with a clean, breathable cloth over the mouth of the jar, and secure it with a rubber band or screw-on jar ring.
- Set the jar on its side.
- Continue to rinse and drain sprouts 1-2 times a day.
- Sprouts should be ready to eat in about four days.
- Select seed-starting trays, plastic takeout dishes, disposable pie plates or clear salad boxes.
- Punch a few drainage holes in the bottom. Set on a cookie sheet, plastic tray or container to prevent spillage.
- Add 1” of potting soil and sprinkle with seeds. Lightly cover seeds with potting soil, press gently and water lightly. Don’t drown your freshly set seeds.
- Place in a sunny windowsill or under grow lights, and keep moist.
- Harvest microgreens by cutting the tops with scissors when they are 2” or longer. Rinse sprout tops in a strainer. Eat right away, or store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Microgreens can be harvested for up to three weeks.
These edible seeds are tasty when grown into sprouts or microgreens: arugula, beans, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, celery, cilantro, clover, collards, cress, dill, fennel, garlic chives, kale, leek, lettuce, mizuna, mustard, onion, parsley, peas, radish, spinach, sunflower, turnips, watercress.