Garden in the Winter: Sunflower Sprouts

One of my favorite things to do in the winter when the gardens are only memories and dreams from the seed catalogs and I hunger for fresh vegetables, is to grow sprouts and one of my favorite sprouts (and the easiest to grow) is sunflower sprouts.

All you need is a little dirt, a sunny windowsill and some raw sunflower seeds. Be sure the seeds haven't been treated in any way. Seeds sold for planting often have fungicides or pesticides added to them and you don't want to eat that.

If you want really cheap sunflower sprouts, buy a bag of sunflower seeds intended for the birds. I have looked and looked and not found a place that can honestly claim these seeds are inedible or not safe for humans.

A small bag will make a lot of sunflower sprouts!

Potting soil is best because of its water holding properties, but if you don't have it, don't run out and buy it. If you have nothing but dirt dug from the cracks in the sidewalk, the seeds will grow! If the soil you have is clay or compacts easily, add something to make it more porous. It can be anything from spent tea leaves or coffee grounds to find sand, crumbled weed stalks or coarsely ground eggshells.

Whatever you put in it won't matter much because it's not going to break down in the few days it takes for the sprouts to grow.

So put the soil in a shallow pot or some kind of container with drainage holes, then water it thoroughly and let it set for a half hour or so, until the water has percolated through it.

Sprinkle the sunflower seeds over it and cover with a layer of soil, or if you're a tidy gardener, you can scratch rows and cross rows and put the seeds in them. Plant them closely, about a quarter of an inch apart at the most.

Put the container in a warm place and keep the soil damp but not wet. Within two to three days, you should see the seeds begin to awaken, stretching and yawning, as it were. Tiny green stems will begin to unfurl. Eventually, the sprouts will stand upright and you will see two primary leaves.

When the sprouts are an inch or two and before the secondary leaves form, pinch or cut them with scissors at ground level and there you go.

Use sunflower sprouts on sandwiches or in salads or just snack on them. They have a wonderful, slightly nutty and altogether fresh taste that will satisfy the longing for vegetables fresher than the supermarket!


  1. Anonymous11:54:00 AM

    Peavey, hi! Can you use pumpkin seeds too? I find pumpkin seeds really good therapeutically for my low thyroid condition.

    1. You can sprout pumpkin seeds, but they do best as a soaked sprout, rather than growing them in soil.

  2. I had no idea! I am going to try this, so hungry for something fresh!