Sprouts
Published October 10, 2023 by Nicole Burke

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Sprouts at Home

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Grow Your Own Fresh, Organic Sprouts

"Umm, what's this weird coffee cup?" I asked my husband. I'd just unwrapped his present to me on Christmas morning.

"It's a sprout starter," he said.

I had been trying to garden for a couple seasons and was just coming off another season where the squirrels ended up eating more of my tomatoes than I did. Indoor gardening hadn't really been something that interested me, but I thought I'd give it a try since I already had the supplies.

Turns out, this little sprout starter was truly a gift. It introduced me to my most successful garden crop yet, and I grew them in just five days right next to my kitchen sink— sprouts. Even now, I find as much joy in the sprouts I "harvest" as I do in the heavy baskets of fruits and veggies I fill from my raised beds.

Growing sprouts from seeds is something all of us can do, no matter our situation, no matter how much space or time or gardening experience we have. Seriously. You don't even have to have a green thumb. You just have to add a small habit to your daily schedule and grab a couple supplies to get started.

sprouts nutrition

What Are Sprouts?

A sprout is just what it sounds like—the very first growth of the plant as the seed pops open, before any true leaves appear. From each seed, there’s growth that happens upward and downward simultaneously. The radicle, otherwise known as the plant’s first root, heads downward looking for nutrition and water. The plumule, otherwise known as the plant’s first shoot, grows upward, in search of light and air. 

If you gave sprouts a growing medium (like potting soil) and light, they would grow into microgreens and then small plants. We're stopping that growth before it happens, which means you don't need soil or light to grow sprouts at home.

what are sprouts?

The Benefits of Growing Your Own Organic Sprouts

Here's why I'd love it if every single one of us starts growing our own sprouts.

One: Sprouts Are Super Fast

Since we're catching these plants at their very first stage of growth, we don't have to wait for them to form strong roots or flowers or fruit. You’ll be able to harvest your first batch of sprouts in a matter of days.

Two: Sprouts Don't Require Much Space

You can grow enough sprouts to toss in your salads and sandwiches in a space as small as a dinner plate. I keep my sprout starter right next to my kitchen sink.

Shop Our Super Sprout System by Gardenary

Get all you need to start growing organic fresh sprouts at home right away. Follow along with Nicole's Step 1, Sprouts, from her bestselling book, Leaves, Roots & Fruit. 

We will teach you how easy it is to grow your own healthy, organic sprouts in a matter of days! Each kit includes:

  • Stainless steel sprout container
  • (8) Seed packs of our favorite sprouts
  • Nicole's Sprouting Course so you can follow along with us

Three: Sprouts Are Super Nutritious

When you eat a sprout, you're getting the initial nutrition of the seed. All those vitamins and minerals that would have eventually spread out to dozens of leaves, stems, and pieces of fruit can be enjoyed in just one bite. The exact nutrients you'll get, of course, depend on the type of sprout you're eating.

Four: Sprouts Can Be Grown Year Round

Growing microgreens and sprouts indoors sustained me over the long Chicago winters. You can start them any day you want. It doesn't matter if the ground is still frozen or a storm is coming. Sprouts are not affected by the weather outside, only by the environment you create for them inside. That means you can enjoy garden-fresh flavor all year long, no matter where you live.

sprouts benefits

A Quick Note on Who Should Not Eat Sprouts

The one downside of sprouts is that bad bacteria like Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli can get into the seeds through little cracks in the seed coat. Most sprouts are consumed uncooked, which can make that bacteria an issue, especially for pregnant people. The FDA advises pregnant people to avoid eating raw sprouts, even if they grew the sprouts themselves. Bean sprouts are still okay to eat if they're thoroughly cooked (like in a stir fry).

If you’re concerned about contaminated sprouts, look for sprout packages certifying that a sample of each seed lottery has been tested by an independent laboratory for safety. You could also follow the directions on the packet to first disinfect your seeds before sprouting them.

steps to grow sprouts

This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which just means I earn a small profit at no extra cost to you if you click on the link and purchase the product.

Supplies to Grow Your Own Sprouts

You can get started with objects you probably already have in your house. As you grow more and more sprouts, you can upgrade your setup however much you’d like. 

A Non-Draining Container

This vessel should hold water without dripping at the bottom. A glass jar, a big bowl or tray, or a Pyrex dish will do.

sprouting jar

A Draining Container

This could be a strainer (the type you’d use to drain water from cooked noodles). Small holes in the bottom should allow water to drip through. This draining container will be set inside the non-draining container. I've found that the more surface area my draining container has, the better. You want to be able to spread your seeds out after each rinse to prevent issues with mold and mildew.

If you'd like a designated container like mine for growing sprouts, you can find inexpensive options on Amazon, like these sprouting jars that come with a drip tray or this sprouting tower that allows you to start multiple batches of sprouts at once. My personal favorite is this stainless steel sprouting tower, which looks sleek sitting on my kitchen counter. You can find other suggested supplies here.

A Water Source

H₂O—it's the thing that tells your seeds to germinate. It swells inside each seed coat until the seed literally bursts open and starts to grow. I use room-temp water straight from the faucet, but you can also use a pitcher filled with fresh water.

supplies to grow sprouts at home

A Large Quantity of Seeds

Not all seeds you’d buy for the garden can be grown as sprouts. Some seeds have leaves and stems that are inedible or even toxic. Many ordinary seeds, however, can be grown and caught right at the beginning of their growing stage for safe consumption. (Explore my favorite types of sprouts to grow.)

You can find seeds in mixes designated to be grown as sprouts. I really like the sprout seeds from Rainbow Heirloom Seed Co. If you're shopping around, look for non-GMO seeds from reputable growers, and be sure to buy in bulk (like a 1-pound bag). A little package of regular seeds is way more expensive per ounce and will only produce about a week or two of sprouts.

seeds for growing sprouts

Shop Our Super Sprout System by Gardenary

Get all you need to start growing organic fresh sprouts at home right away. Follow along with Nicole's Step 1, Sprouts, from her bestselling book, Leaves, Roots & Fruit. 

We will teach you how easy it is to grow your own healthy, organic sprouts in a matter of days! Each kit includes:

  • Stainless steel sprout container
  • (8) Seed packs of our favorite sprouts
  • Nicole's Sprouting Course so you can follow along with us

Steps to Grow Your Own Sprouts

Step One: Soak Seeds Overnight

Take a tablespoon or so of seeds and soak them in water in your non-draining container. Don't strain them because you might lose some of the smaller seeds through the holes of your draining container. You only need to fill your non-draining container with enough water to submerge all seeds, though some will try to float on the surface.

Cover your non-draining container with a cheesecloth, napkin, or washcloth and leave overnight. 

how to grow sprouts

Step Two: Drain the Seeds

The next day, strain the seeds through your draining container. Then, spread them out over the draining container. Try to evenly distribute the seeds so they’re not overlapping to prevent mildew. 

It's easy to make this part of your routine by doing it while you sip your coffee or tea every morning.

how to grow sprouts step by step

Step Three: Rinse the Seeds

Every time you come to your kitchen sink throughout the day, run the faucet over the seeds in the strainer, spread them back out, cover them, and then let them sit. I find that leaving the seeds next to the sink is the best reminder to give them some water. 

Other than that, you can just enjoy your day. You don't need to prune anything or fertilize anything. You just let those little seed do their thing.

Before you go to bed, give your seeds a final rinse for the day and disperse them evenly over the container after. Cover for the night. 

guide to growing sprouts

Leaves, Roots & Fruit Teaches You the Step by Step to Grow as a Gardener

Do you dream of walking through your own kitchen garden with baskets full of delicious food you grew yourself?

Nicole Johnsey Burke—founder of Gardenary, Inc., and author of Kitchen Garden Revival—is your expert guide for growing your own fresh, organic food every day of the year, no matter where you grow. More than just providing the how-to, she gives you the know-how for a more practical and intuitive gardening system.

Step Four: Repeat

Start the process of rinsing and draining your seeds again the next day. After those first 12 or so hours of soaking your sprouts, make sure you’re rinsing them at least twice a day, for the next five to seven days.  

These steps are so simple, right? No lights, no soil, no special tools required. And yet, you’re gardening and growing your own super-nutritious little plants.

Within three to four days, you’ll start to see the seeds swell a little bit before a tiny white tail emerges. That tail is the very first root of the plant.

steps to grow organic sprouts at home

How to Harvest Your Sprouts

Your sprouts will likely be ready to harvest in just five or six days. You’ll know it’s time when you see your sprouts forming their first tiny sets of leaves. Harvest your sprouts within one or two days of seeing the first green seed leaves. 

Harvesting sprouts simply means removing them from their tray. You can rinse and remove any spent seed coats if you’d like. Refrigerate any sprouts you don't plan to use up that day.

Sprouts can be eaten and enjoyed in many different ways. You can eat your sprouts all at once or use them over the next couple of days to extend your garden-to-table experience. I like adding sprouts to tacos, wraps, sandwiches, and salads. In the deep winter when nothing outside is green and I’m craving garden-fresh flavors, I make salads from nothing more than sprouts and microgreens.  

sprouts types to grow at home

Time to Soak Some Sprouts!

Growing your own organic sprouts will open your eyes to the magic of the garden, and you’ll get fresh, delicious, nutritious food right beside your kitchen sink all year long. Bonus: Those pesky neighborhood squirrels can't run off with your harvests!

My goal this year is to start at least one tray of sprouts every week for the entirety of the year. I hope you'll join me! Even if you’re starting simple with nothing more than some Tupperware containers and soil, the important thing is that you’re starting. 

Thanks for helping me bring back the kitchen garden, one small but mighty bowl of greens at a time.

Learn How to Grow Your Own Microgreens

Microgreens rank among the simplest, smallest, and yet most nutritious and delicious plants you can grow in the garden.

There are many rewarding aspects to starting these quick-growing plants for yourself, but perhaps the best thing about microgreens is how easy they are to grow at home. Not just at home but indoors, even right next to your kitchen sink.

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Your Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Sprouts