Of all the microgreens and shoots out there, sunflower shoots may just be king of the windowsill. Easy to grow, quick to mature, a snap to harvest and totally nutritious! If you haven’t tried growing your own sunflower shoots, it may be the new winter food you have been looking for. What exactly are sunflower shoots?
Sunflower shoots are the young, edible seedlings of sunflower plants. Within a weeks time, a batch of sunflower shoots are ready. A nutritional powerhouse, they are full of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and protein. They are also considered a complete protien. Check out the impressive nutritional information at Markito Nutrition. As for taste, they are crunchy with a pleasant nutty flavor. They almost have a succulent quality about them. In the article A Salad’s Surprise Shot of Flavor, chef Robert Newton says, “They taste like a sunflower seed, kind of, but with chlorophyll.” I would have to agree!
It is said that you can use black oil sunflower seeds for growing. If food safety is a concern, purchase seed from a reputable sprout company that tests for food-borne pathogens. The Sprout House is a good company. I’m sure there are many sellers out there. At Savvy Gardening, they recommend a 12 hours soak for the seeds, then another rinse and soak. I’ve had great result without even soaking but it would probably speed things along.
Sunflower shoots can be grown in a plant pot, seed starting tray or a recycled container. The roots are shallow. Just make sure you have a few inches of soil. Use a food safe growing mix. No fertilizer is necessary. Press down the soil and scatter the seeds thickly across the surface of the soil. Sprinkle additional soil over seeds. Some growers just firmly place another tray over the seeds to block the light for a few days. For the home grower, covering the seeds with dirt works just fine.
Within a few days, your little shoots will be reaching for the sun to become a thick sunflower shoot forest! You can even have a few batches going at once for a continual harvest.
As your shoots grow, pick off the seed coats to allow them to open fully.
When the shoots are at 4″ or so, cut them with scissors. Always wash shoots in cool water and store in a bag. They will last when stored in this way for a few weeks. Don’t allow them to grow beyond the shoot stage.
Sunflower shoots make a fantastic plant to grow with children. The seeds are big enough for even the tiniest of hands to grasp and they love watching the fat seedlings rise up through the soil. Getting my son to even try them is another story all together!
Typical uses for sunflower shoots are salads, sandwiches, smoothies and can be used as a garnish. But, think beyond this. Try them as a substitute for bean sprouts. Throw them last minute into a stir-fry. Use them anywhere you think they will compliment the meal. Sunflower shoots are an excellent way to get through the winter and a wonderful addition to your winter windowsill garden!
For more information on shoots and microgreens, go to my articles Easily Grow Windowsill Microgreens or Grow Pea Shoots in 4 Super Easy Steps. Thank you for joining me this week at Everlongardener and happy growing!