Survival gardening should be easy and fast. Getting fresh greens, which contain vital nutrients we all need to stay healthy, may be difficult in an urban area and especially during an emergency.
As long as you have certain legumes and grain seeds that lend themselves to sprouting, you can grow your own salad anytime, anywhere, without soil. All you need is water, light and some clear containers with lids.
How is this possible?
Prodigious sprouting “seeds”, like mung beans, lentils, garbonzos (chick peas), radish, broccoli, adzuki, clover and alfalfa, contain enough nutrients to begin growing a new plant even without external fertilization.
When exposed to moisture and light these sprouts send out a root and leaves and are able to grow (for a while), photosynthesizing their own food, which packs them with even more nutrients, like vitamins A, B, C, E, K, calcium and iron. Sprouts are high in protein too.
Sprouting also makes beans easier to digest. Sprouting helps break down phytic acid and other enzyme inhibitors, which allows your body to better absorb the nutrients within the seed. And if you’re particularly sensitive to the complex sugars that cause uncomfortable gas, good news. Sprouting helps take care of that too.
More on the nutritional benefits of sprouts from the USDA. (Hint: search for "sprout".)
When I make sprouts, I’ll do a mixture (mung beans and lentils, for
example) to provide a combination of flavors. For a lighter, less earthy sprout, try alfalfa.
You can sprout anywhere. I’ve even known people to sprout seeds while on the road, making them a perfect survival gardening staple.
Timeframe: 3-5 Days
1. Clean and thoroughly rinse the beans and lentils.
2. Place the beans in a pint-sized jar (I used a Mason jar) and fill completely with water. Make sure to cover the beans and lentils with at least one cup of water; they will triple in volume. Soak 12 hours.
3. After soaking, rinse, drain and place the beans and lentils one-layer deep in the sprouting rack or plastic containers. I use six to eight, 2-inch deep containers. Try not to crowd the beans and lentils. Over the next few days they will completely fill the containers.
4. If using a purpose-built sprouting rack,
simply stack the layers. For the plastic-ware method, slightly offset
the lids so that air can circulate, while keeping the beans and lentils
moist. Place on a counter top that receives good light.
5. Rinse, drain and repeat every 12 hours for the next few days. By the third or fourth day, the legumes should have fully sprouted, sending up bright green leaves. They’re now ready to eat. Mmm, chlorophyll. At this point you can store them in the refrigerator. They’ll keep about one week.
Though sprouts don’t last long after germination, you have the ability to make just enough to fit your needs on an on-going basis. Meanwhile, the beans and lentils remain preserved until needed.