I should start out by saying that NOTHING works like it does on the internet. Pinterest and Youtube make sprouting grain look oh so easy. Fool proof. Well maybe I’m a fool (wouldn’t be my first time being accused of this actually) but my first attempt to sprouting should’ve been included in one of those satirical “Nailed It” Pinterest articles because it did NOT go according to plan (but that’s kind of the story of my life).
In every other article I read or video I watched there were 4 easy steps:
- Soak grain of choice in water for 12-24 hours
- Drain and rinse soaked grains and spread them about an inch thick in a shallow container with drainage holes (drainage holes must be poked in the pattern of a heart so the chickens know that it contains your soul–I added this but you might as well–what do you have to lose)
- Place in a warm sunny spot and by the next day it should be sprouting
- Keep watered and by day 7 you should have what looks like a perfect little suburban lawn of dreams growing in a perfect little rug to feed your adoring flock.
The following is what happened to me:
- Soak grain of choice (oats) in water for 24 hours
- Drain and rinse soaked oats and spread them about an inch thick (first mistake I couldn’t find my ruler and I eyeballed it) in a shallow container with drainage holes (I believe THIS is where I truly messed up. Admittedly my drainage holes are in more of a rectangular shape NOT a heart)
- Place in my picture window where the light comes in best. Smile adoringly at all of my thoughtful effort. I am such a good chicken owner I told myself.
- Remind 2 year old tirelessly to stop touching the oats because they’re trying to sprout
- Wake up the next morning to find nothing but oats. Reassure myself that I probably missed the sunlight yesterday and they will be sprouted on Day 2. Water and walk away.
- Day 2: Still just oats. Nary a sprout to be found. Push out negative thoughts about how every other small seed I’ve planted shows at least some sign of life by now. There is no room to waiver here. STAY FAITHFUL! Water and walk away.
- Day 3-5: STILL OATS! LITTLE FAT OATS! WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME! Water angrily and stomp away.
- Day 6: Sweet victory sprouts! We have sprouts! Now how many more days until I get this abundant suburban grass rug everyone has been promising me?
So tomorrow will be day 7 and I will keep going until these spouts die or turn into fodder for my chickens, but I’m feeling a little lied to by the homesteading community. I mean I’m no gardener but this is ridiculous.
Now I’m not trying to say that sprouting is hard because it really isn’t. What I’m saying is that it didn’t happen for me as quickly as in the articles I read and videos I watched. This was for two reasons:
- I chose to sprout oats and sunflower seeds. It doesn’t really matter what you sprout but like with anything, some grains grow faster than others. I was comparing my growth rates to quicker growing grains such as wheat and barley.
- MOLD! I didn’t realize that by watering they meant you just wanted to rinse your grains daily. I accidentally let mine really sit in water for too long. So much fuzzy white mold.
Despite the few set backs I had it was definitely worth it to do. The flock really enjoyed the fodder and the available nutrient payload is priceless. Here are a few things that I have tried since this experience:
- Stirring the seeds and just growing sprouted grains instead of the fodder mat.
- Spritzing the sprouts with vinegar water to keep the mold at bay
- Adding more drainage holes
- I bought some barely to try sprouting that
I will keep spouting grain for my flock and updating with my experience until I get an easy fodder system that is FOOL PROOF enough for this fool!