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Gardening & Sprouting

Growing your own sprouts

May 12, 2013 • Paige

sproutinglentils-fivedays07How to Sprout Lentils

Sprouting is something that everyone can do to grow fresh nutritious food for very little cost.  For about five years, the Gustos have been growing our own sprouts and eating them every day.

At this point, we have developed our own method of sprouting, which is what I am going to show you.

To start things off, we’ll focus on lentils.

What’s a Lentil?

Lentils are a small brownish green legume found with the dry beans and rice. The store brand usually costs about $1.40 per pound.

Note: You can sprout several different types of dry beans, but some of them are poisonous, so make sure you choose something you can safely sprout!  Example: NEVER eat sprouted kidney beans.


What do I need to start sprouting lentils?

A bag of dried lentils

A wide-mouth glass jar

A lid and a screen

  • Metal ring lids that come with a canning jar (they rust, only use them once or twice).
  • Plastic lid, cut with a hole-saw
  • Metal screen from hardware store, cut with heavy duty shears. You need this for sprouting small seeds.
  • Plastic screen, cut from craft store “Plastic Canvas”.  Large holes, lots of air-flow

If you don’t have any of that stuff, a rubber band and some window screen works pretty well, too!


Getting Started:

Prepare your materials

Wash and sanitize the jar, lid, and screen to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold. Do this before each new sprouting “crop”

  • Wash in hot water by hand or in a dish washer.
  • Rinse in a light vinegar or bleach solution.

Start with about  1/4 cup of dry lentils.

Pick through them and remove any small stones and debris, and rinse well with cool water.
Note: I used a half cup for this tutorial – it was way too much!


Cover lentils with water and soak for 8 – 12 hours. 

Leave lots of room for lentils to expand.


Rinse and Drain

Drain and rinse your lentils well with cool, clean water. They will have doubled in size.

Rinse and drain lentils every 8 – 12 hours.

Place jar upside down in a bowl or rack at an angle steep enough to prevent water from pooling. Ensure there is plenty of air-flow through the lid. We keep our sprouting jars in a dish drying rack with a drainboard that drains into the sink.

Photo below – Left: Lentils               Right: Black Eyed Peas.
We have switched to all plastic lids now, this photo is a few years old.


At approximately 24 hours, the lentils are beginning to sprout. 

If you are going to cook them, you could stop here.  I like to sprout them a lot longer so that I can eat them raw.

Sprouted lentils after 36 hours:


Sprouts are Ready to Eat!

At 3 days, (below), the sprouts can be eaten raw.



At 3 to 3.5 days, the sprouts begin growing little leaves.

That is when we start eating them!

Five Days



Stopping the Sprouting Process and Storing your Sprouts

Refrigerating lentils almost stops the growing process.
Rinse sprouts and drain very well, gently pat dry with a towel.

  • Store sprouted lentils in a clean, dry jar secured with an airtight lid.
  • Rinse and drain well once per day.
  • Eat within a few days.

Lentil sprouts smell heavenly when you lightly saute them, but we usually eat them raw, sprinkled into our salads.  We usually have two jars going so that we have a constant supply of fresh sprouts.

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Lusher, happier plants for free

February 14, 2011 • Paige

I got a great gardening tip from a coworker a few years ago. It’s so obvious – but one of those things I just never thought of.

Instead of buying plant food or fertilizer, simply catch rain water and store it in jugs.  You can use it to supplement your plants between rainfall. The last time it rained really good, I set out large containers to catch the rain and was able to fill 9 jugs with rain water. Since I started alternating between tap water and rainwater, and my plants are all incredibly happy and lush green. It has really helped me keep some fresh herbs around throughout the winter.

I haven’t bought plant food in two years, and I may never need to again!

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Growing sprouts at home: update

July 28, 2010 • Paige

We have come a long way with sprouting since my last post about it!  Here are some pictures and the basics of how we’re sprouting at home.

You need:

  • a jar with a lid that allows air-flow
  • pantyhose and a rubber band works if you keep it pulled tight, or use a mason jar with some screen from the hardware store.
  • dry lentils (a quarter cup makes a jar full)

Rinse lentils well and soak in plenty of water for 12 hours.

Dump out the water, and rinse the lentils well.
Drain and set the jar on its side at an angle so water can drip out and does not “pool” in the jar.
– you can leave it on the counter. Don’t worry about dark or sunlight – it works no matter what!!

Every 6 – 12 hours, rinse in cool water and dump the water out.
Make sure plenty of air can flow through whatever lid you are using or the sprouts will go rancid, fast.
After your first or second rinse, lentils will look something like this:

This (below) is about a day and a half.  Let them grow for about two to three days before eating

This is about four days:

The same method works for Black Eyed Peas, however after the first day and a half (or so), you will need to dump them in a large bowl of water and pick out / pull off the hulls. It is labor intensive, and most people won’t bother. You also MUST to use a good brand of Black Eyed Peas – not the cheap store brand.

We use a dish rack because we make so much. The one in front is lentils, the other three are black eyed peas, all have been going for about four days when this picture was taken.

A tablespoon of black eyed peas will grow to fill a large mason jar after about four days – see?

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More garden pics

May 19, 2010 • Paige

We bought two blueberry bushes for $9.00 each, and they are already putting off blueberries. 

We have seven tomato plants – this one is “husky” cherry tomato!

Cucumber in the back, several different kinds of basil, oregano, dill and an un-identified shrub.

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Adventures in Gardening

May 17, 2010 • Paige

Green beans, black-eyed peas, corn, squash, and snow peas.   Everything except the squash is from seed, which was really cheap.

We’ve scavenged or found long sticks and pipes for bean poles.We laid down sheets of cardboard to help block the grass and weeds from coming back. 
Those cost us nothing!   

Cucumber plants! These are from seed.

Green beans, black-eyed peas, corn, and squash.  We used wood from the shed and flattened cardboard boxes to block weeds.  The bean poles are scavenged from our shed, as well.

We enclosed an area that doesn’t get used.  The fence was stretched along the diagonal, reducing the number of  t-poles we needed to find or buy.  We found one and bought two.

The middle pot has rosemary and carrots.  The yellow pot is just carrots, but it was planted the same day as the middle pot.  Carrots LOVE rosemary, apparently!

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Frugal gardening tips

May 8, 2010 • Paige

Before you buy plants, look closely at how many plants there are in the pot.  Sometimes you can find up to four or five plants in a single pot, for the same price as a pot that has only one plant.  Use a sharp knife to cut the roots, rather than tearing them apart. 

A piece of card board will kill grass and weeds better than a roll of the black plastic stuff sold for the purpose.  Save flattened cardboard boxes year round and you will never have to buy anything to kill grass and weeds, and the cardboard will compost.  Try to use cardboard with only minimal amounts of inks and dyes.

You don’t have to buy pots for plants. Almost anything can be used to grow something in.  Buckets, trash cans, plastic food containers, baskets lined with plastic – anything that can be cut or drilled to allow water to drain.  Save the flimsy temporary pots that your plants come in – they work just fine.

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Grow your own sprouts: cheap fresh veggies

March 17, 2010 • Paige

I love bean sprouts and alfalfa sprouts on salads and sandwiches, but I am not going to pay $3 – $5 per package for them.  Right now I’m sprouting things I already have on hand: wheat and lentils, which are almost ready to eat. I think sprouted lentils are my new favorite food.

Growing sprouts is easy. You can sprout dry beans and grains from the grocery store in two to five days in a bowl or jar on your kitchen counter.  Place two or three tablespoons of seeds in a jar.  Rubberband a piece of  netting, mesh, or pantyhose over the mouth as a breathable lid. Rinse the seeds thoroughly, then soak over night.  Drain and rinse, then place the jar on its side in a semi dark place. Rinse and drain every 12 hours to keep mold from forming.   

Sprouts will keep in the fridge for up to six weeks.  They must be rinsed every 7 days and kept dry. Some sprouted beans and grains need to be cooked before eating, but they cook up in half the time. 

Next I’m trying black eyed pea sprouts, black bean sprouts, and brown rice sprouts.  I found this great recipe I want to try, for sprouted beans and rice!  They cook in about half the normal time. Sprouted black beans cook in about 45 minutes.  Sprouted brown rice cooks in about 15 minutes, and requires less water.

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My plants update 3/13/10

March 15, 2010 • Paige

My marjoram is hanging in there and starting to spread out and grow a bit.  All three rosemary plants almost doubled in size over the week.

Growing your own fresh vegetables, fruits, and herbs does not have to be costly.  If you have your own compost pile, you have a renewable source of gardening soil.  Plastic pots from the dollar stores work just as well as the more expensive kinds everywhere else.

My stevia is growing fast! I may need to move one of the little shoots to another pot. 

I brought home new plants this weekend, which I’ll have to photograph tomorrow when the sun is up.  I got basil, dill, thyme, lemon thyme, greek oregano, two kinds of tomatoes, and a couple of strawberry plants.  I have also planted snow peas and green beans – I will be planting a lot more of those as soon as we can get our garden boxes together.

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My herb plants

March 8, 2010 • Paige

I am so glad that the weather is warming up.  Since it was so nice out this weekend I decided to clean up and re-pot the plants on my front porch. At the height of summer my porch was overflowing with herbs, but when winter set in, half of my plants died completely and several more died down to a stick or two. 

We had three stevia plants and thought they all died but this one is coming back!  Stevia leaves are a natural sweetener, and we used them in our iced tea and are able to cut the amount of white sugar used by half.  You can buy stevia crystals in the stores but growing your own is free!

(Before) My marjoram is starting to come back but it was scraggly and had a bunch of dead bits.

It is a lot happier now after a thorough trimming and being placed in a bigger pot. 

(Before) My rosemary plants all made it through the winter, but they are looking a bit battered.  All three of them needed bigger pots.
(After) They are much happier now and have a lot of room to grow. I don’t use a lot of rosemary in my cooking but with this much of it I’ll start!
I still need to get started with my vegetables, and there are a few other kinds of herbs I’d like to grow.  This was really just an excuse to be outside enjoying a sunny Saturday afternoon. 
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Grow something!

February 23, 2010 • Paige

Last spring was our first try at growing edible plants.  Since we live in a rental, we are growing in containers in lieu of a garden.  On the the front porch we had basil, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, peppermint, stevia, tomatoes, aloe, and some other random plants.

We got started pretty late and even though we did so many things wrong, there was an abundance of fresh herbs all throughout the summer.  The basil, stevia, thyme were lost to Autumn cold weather.  The aloe plants are still going strong, and the rosemary and peppermint are coming back from their brush with death a bit slowly.

This year I want to do better.  I have saved a few paper egg cartons for starting seeds indoors.  I can get started with that just as soon as I decide what I want to grow. 🙂 This year we’re also going to try our hand at several different kinds of vegetables and small fruits.  I scrounged up some plastic bins to re-purpose as planters.  Hopefully I will be able to harvest and store my herbs, veggies, and fruits this year.

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