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After a couple of weeks coping with bitter cold and looking at the frozen landscape, I’m itching to garden. While it’s way too soon to start seeds for the garden, now is the perfect time to crank up my kitchen garden and start sprouting.

Sprouting seeds is a quick and easy way to grow a fresh and nutritious vegetable crop indoors with no fuss, no muss, no dirt, and you don’t need special lighting.

Sprouts are high in fiber, low in calories, easy to digest and fat free. They also contain protein, minerals, amino acids and a passel of vitamins and can be used in salads, on sandwiches and in stir-fries. I saute them with mushrooms and onions and add them along with slivered almonds, when scrambling eggs. They’re a dieter’s dream come true.

Although alfalfa and mung beans are the most popular seeds for sprouting, there’s a large array of vegetables, legumes, and grains to choose from including broccoli, radish, chickpeas and lentils. Look for options at your local health food store or check out websites on the internet.

Botanical Interests (botanicalinterests.com) includes more than a dozen choices in their 2018 seed catalog, including Fenugreek, a Salad Mix and a Sandwich Mix. For those who like a bit of zip, Radish China Rose is a perfect addition.

The best part of sprouting is you can grow these healthful little morsels with a minimum of expense. All you need to get started is a 1 quart wide-mouth glass jar, some cheesecloth, a large rubber band and some seeds.

Begin by soaking the seeds overnight in cold water in the jar. Next drain off the water and inspect larger seeds, removing any that are broken or have failed to swell. Then return the seeds to the glass jar, fill it with fresh water, cover with the cheesecloth secured by a rubber band, swish the seeds around and drain. I prop the jar on an angle in a bowl that sits on the kitchen counter.

Twice daily rinsing is key to successful and healthful sprouting. The Botanical Interests seed packets also include instructions on how to disinfect the seeds, which is optional.

When ready to eat — usually in about five days, give the sprouts a final rinse, drain well and store leftovers in the refrigerator.

Botanical Interests also sells a nifty seed sprouter ($25) with two divided trays that allow sprouting of four different seed varieties at one time.

Botanical Interests’ seeds are available and currently on sale at all English Gardens.

Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnewscom/homestyle.

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