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Dave Robinson

Fresh vegetables can be a rarity in the event of a disaster. When supply lines are disrupted, the foods we take for granted could be in very short supply. Many have already set aside non-perishable food to eat when the stores are empty. However fresh vegetables may be another matter. Thousands of folks plant a vegetable garden every year to raise their own vegetables. Some do it as a hobby and some as a matter of necessity. Either way the experts tell us home-grown veggies are better tasting and in most cases, better for us. Obviously gardening is a long-term project not to be rolled out the day after a disaster with the expectation of a ready food supply.

Recently I was reminded of a process our ancestors used, later adopted by the back-to-the land folks of the 60’s and 70’s. Sprouts. Sprouts have long been celebrated for their healthy properties, and more recently for their ability to treat certain kinds of cancers, high cholesterol, even arteriosclerosis and certain cardiovascular disease. Some studies even indicate that sprouts protect us from the ongoing effects of aging.

I was given a partial bag of lentils and a few simple instructions. “Put two tablespoons of lentils in a quart Mason jar. Cover with water overnight then rinse a couple of times every day.”

It has been almost a week and my sprouts are nearly filling the (wide-mouth) Mason jar. Some sources say to cover the opening with cheese cloth or plastic mesh to facilitate the rinsing and draining process. I cut a piece of hardware cloth to fit inside the jar ring. I have learned that plastic screen is preferable to metal, but the metal seems to be working at this point.

There are several on-line sources of information as well as sprout kits available for purchase. Plenty of places on the Internet offer sprout kits. Costs run from $3.31 for a set of plastic sprouting jar lids to $55 or more for a full-on kit including organic seeds and full-on instruction book. Most grocery stores offer a selection of sprouting seeds located somewhere near the produce section. Some popular seeds include lentils, alfalfa, sunflower, mung beans, radish, clover and soybean. Experimentation will prove your favorites, although I’m told the biggest sprouts come from the mung beans.

So whether you are intrigued by a little science experiment in your kitchen (with benefits) or you need to get some edible greens in a short amount of time you might consider growing sprouts. One more tool to add to your kit. After all skills and knowledge are more important than stuff. Stuff is good, but skills are better.

As always, send your comments, questions (and sprout hints) to Previous columns can be found on my blog at

Dave Robinson is a retired Bandon postmaster and the author of “Disaster Prep For The Rest Of Us,” available on, and other online book sellers.