Growing Nalo Greens

Growing Nalo Greens
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Growing Instructions

Put 1/4 cup of seed - for a 5x5 inch Tray, in a jar.

Sunflower seeds float. To Soak them all evenly, fill the jar to the top with cool water and cover with a lid.

Soak for 8-12 hours.

Drain off soak water. Never Soak them again.

Rinse thoroughly.

Drain thoroughly.

Rinse and Drain again with cool water - every 8-12 hours.

When your seeds have the tiniest root showing, plant them on a thoroughly moistened medium. We use 75% Coconut Coir and 25% Earthworm Castings.

Cover your crop with another tray or plate, to keep light out and moisture in.

Keep your medium moist by watering gently as needed.

When your plants have begun to push up the cover, remove the cover and move your crop to a well lit location.

Harvest when the leaves are open and most of them have shed their hulls.

Cut just above the medium, with a scissors or sharp knife.

Planting Density

The more densely you plant the seed the less air circulates around the individual plants. This can cause some fungal growth - we call it “fuzzies”. This is not a problem, except that it is unattractive. Some crops will have mold or rot issues. That is a problem. If you get brown pockets at the soil level, where the plants just die, you are probably in need of more air circulation, so plant fewer seeds next time. If you do encounter rot spots like that, scoop them out - if you're growing on a fluffy medium, and try to nurse your crop to completion. In summer we grow our Greens outside (from the point when we uncover the tray) for optimal air circulation.

Planting Medium

We have grown Greens - on soil - in Trays, for almost 2 decades. But, we now have options. We have multiple Soilless Mediums (including Hemp Felt and Vermiculite), and organic liquid Kelp Fertilizer to provide your plants some nutrients to draw upon as they grow. Hemp Felt is a thin organic material that you soak before planting upon. It holds moisture and is the least messy and compact medium we know of. Vermiculite is a mineral which holds moisture supremely, dispenses added nutrients over time and in general acts much like soil. We think you should try all of them if you can - there are differences and though they are minimal you may prefer one method over the other.

Instructions are pretty much the same, regardless of what medium you use, but we have specified differences where they exist. We may be offering other, or different Mediums (products are always coming and going) then when we wrote these instructions, or you might be using one you got somewhere else. Please follow our instructions that refer to Hemp Felt for other thin mediums (i.e. STG Pads). Consider Perlite, Potting Soil or other such fluffy mediums to be the same as Vermiculite, and so follow directions labeled for Vermiculite. There may be some small differences, but they're likely to be minor.

Soil Notes

Virtually any soil will do for Greens. We used sterile composted cow manure for the tens of thousands of Trays we grew during our days as professional growers, but any sterile bagged soil will do, and should be available at any garden center, and be inexpensive (depending on the general cost of living where you are of course). You can use expensive soil if you prefer - we might even be selling some - it is your choice - always. The deal is this - Greens (garden greens anyway) are aided by the presence of the nutrient Nitrogen, in the soil. Nitrogen is the nutrient responsible for plant growth (a very good thing when growing lettuce, spinach, collards or other leafy crops, but too much nitrogen is bad if growing peppers or tomatoes or any plant where the fruit is what we eat). Manures contain varrying amounts of nitrogen depending on the animal that originally produced it. Too much nitrogen will burn plants - almost literally burn them - hence the word HOT is used in reference to nitrogen. The higher the nitrogen content the HOTTER the manure (or fertilizer) is considered. Cow manure is the least hot - it was perfect for our needs - it supplies the growing plants with a little extra boost. Chicken, other bird manures and Bat Guano (another word for manure) are much hotter, and Earthworm castings are hotter still (castings is yet another word for manure). The catch is this: Greens, Grass and Sprouts are theoretically all too young to benefit from nitrogen and other nutrients. It is written that every seed has, within itself, all the nutrients it needs to grow to the cotyledon stage. That's as far as we grow any of our seeds (with the sometimes exception of Micro-Greens). So - though it is contradictory, it is our experience that nitrogen does help Greens in some cases (most obviously when growing Sunflower Greens). Like we always say - EXPERIMENT FOR YOURSELF. Draw your own conclusions. If you are familiar with our rap on Dogma, you'll agree with us when we say; Just because it is written does not mean that it's so. Whatever the reality - a little nitrogen can't hurt. Wouldn't it be fantastic if we could get our teenagers to use the words Guano or Castings instead of %&$# when they get ticked off?;-D

Hydroponic Greens

We do not grow hydroponic Greens. We have tried but have never gotten the yields we get with soil, and the flavor of the crops is nowhere near as fine. They taste watered down. Now that we have a soilless alternatives (Hemp Felt, Vermiculite, etc.) we are even less interested in hydroponic Greens growing. But, if you want to try - go to Val at Go Green/Green Smoothie - she is the queen of home hydroponics. Tell her us Sproutpeople sent you!

Tray Note

Your Planting Tray (the one with the soil or medium in it) MUST have drainage holes or slits! Nothing will grow in a medium that can not drain - that condition is commonly called "flooded". When using Hemp Felt or Vermiculite your Planting Tray must also have drainage, but we do use the Drip Tray to hold some water at times in the growing process. (You'll see the TIP in our instructions, above.)

As I've said time and time again on the site, we hate dogma, so take my dogma with a grain of salt. You can grow in trays without drainage (the amazing people at the Hippocrates Health Institute have long done so), but you do have to be able to drain excess water away. Tipping is a possibility, but we think it risky - especially for the novice grower, hence my dogma.

Re-Growing Your Crop

Greens can produce a 2nd - so you may continue to water after you cut your first crop. The 2nd and crop will not be as tender, and it may have fungal problems, but it is good to try growing a 2nd crop. Decide for yourself if it is worth it! Vermiculite is the best medium, as far as water retention is concerned - which is a very big deal if you want to go for multiple cuttings, but soil enriched with Earthworm Castings is perhaps a better choice as it gives the Greens nutrients to draw upon. Soil enriched with Earthworm Castings and with about 10-20% Vermiculite might be perfect. Funny that never occurred to me before.... Whatever you use, it's worth a try if only for the experience and the knowledge gained.

Nalo Greens benefit tremendously from being sprouted prior to planting, so we Soak them for 8-12 hours, being certain to keep the floating Sunflowers submerged, by using a jar with a lid - completely filled with cool water.
After you drain off that soak water (you'll want a Screen Lid for your Jar), then Rinse and Drain - your crop will look like this.

Though this is 24 hours later -
You will have Rinsed and Drained your seeds 12 hours ago, and once again - just before this picture is taken.

Minutes later....
My freshly Rinsed and Drained Nalo Greens are germinating nicely, so it is time to plant them.
Here planted on my thoroughly moistened medium: 60% Coconut Coir, 20% Vermiculite, and 20% Earthworm Castings in our lovely Stainless Steel Tray Sprouter.

12 hours later...

12 hours later
We can see root hairs (That is NOT mold! Follow that link to learn :-)
which are on the Radishes, and the Sunflowers.

12 hours later...
Everything is growing along nicely.
If you can zoom in on this picture you will see the difference between Monocot and Dicot seeds. The Peas are the Monocots here, the others are all Dicots. The Pea shows this difference clearly. If you look closely you will see that the root grows one way (down), while the shoot grows the other (up). The Dicots all send their root down and push the seed up. These seeds will shed their hulls, revealing their set of 2 leaves. Isn't nature a trip?!

12 hours later...
I just want to mention here - though it's fairly obvious - that I usually over-plant. Your crop should probably look a little sparser. As you'll see in the following pictures, my over-planting works fine, but I have access to many tons of seed so I often get silly when growing - which is pretty much all the time =:-D.

12 hours later...
Though everything is growing - the Radishes are growing faster.
This is expected and normal - I just like to share details =;-)
It's time to uncover your crop and expose it to light. Remember - since you are growing in a tray you may use direct sunlight.

12 hours later...
As I like to say - photosynthesis happens.
Is this not amazing?!

12 hours later...
The Buckwheat has now caught up with the Radishes.

12 hours later...

24 hours have passed this time.
The Buckwheat has now grown taller than the Radishes.

48 hours (that's 2 days =;-) later...
The Pea Shoots are now the tallest plants in the tray.

24 hours later....
It's harvest time! Try to remove some of the remaining seed coats (hulls) by holding your tray sideways and rubbing your hand gently back and forth across the plants. There will still be some hulls but you can pick them off or discard those greens. Enjoy!

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