Sunflower, in addition to being the name of my first-born daughter, is a majestic plant native to Central America. The Latin name for this plant, Helianthus annus, is derived from the Greek word helios for sun and anthos, meaning flower, and it is a member of the Asteraceae (Daisy) Family, which includes dandelion, echinacea and calendula.
Sunflowers are known to turn towards the sun, and Aztec priestesses have worn crowns of them. Native Peoples have cultivated the sunflower for at least 3,000 years and made them into “energy cakes” as a staple food. At one time Russian soldiers were given rations of sunflower seeds, which at some times they were expected to solely exist on.
Sunflower seeds are high in B vitamin complex, vitamin E, protein, essential fatty acids, magnesium, selenium and zinc. Sprouting the seeds increases their content of beta-carotene, chlorophyll and vitamin C.
As a medicinal food, sunflower seeds are considered antioxidant, diuretic, expectorant, nutritive and warming. They have been used for thousands of years as a tonic for eyes, helping to decrease light sensitivity, improving energy and fertility. Unlike fruits and vegetables, which stop growing when plucked from their mother plant, sprouts continue growing up until the moment they are digested, and impart a subtle life force to the body. Sprouts are considered excellent anti-aging foods due to their rich supply of enzymes.
Next: Sprouting Sunflower Seeds
Sprouting Sunflower Seeds
Soak about 1 cup of seeds in 2 cups of water overnight.
Prepare a tray filled with about 1/2 inch of organic potting soil. You can also a combination of equal parts of Canadian sphagnum peat moss and organic untreated soil. Whatever you choose, the soil should be light and airy.
Spread the seeds out on the tray of dirt, without piling them on top of one another. They do not need to be covered with dirt; Three hours of sunlight daily is adequate, although more light will speed the growing process. (If the greens are pale, they are not receiving adequate sunlight.) Water only once daily.
When the sprouts are 8 inches high (about one week to twelve days), it’s time to harvest them. Using scissors cut the sprouts as close to the surface of the soil surface as possible (many of the sprouts’ nutrients are concentrated close to the soil). After the harvest, keep watering the tray to obtain a second harvest. You will have a constant supply of fresh greens beginning after about ten days and lasting three weeks to a month.
When you are not getting any more yield, compost the contents of the tray. Do not confuse mold with the young ciliar hairs on the rootlets. Mold is most likely to form during hot, humid weather. It can also result from excess watering or from inadequate spacing between plantings.
Add the sprouts to salad, sandwiches or as a garnish to soups or any dish. My grandchildren love to stand on a step stool with a pair of scissors to cut the sprouts and love to eat them. Growing a new generation!