Broccoli soil-sprout: better than an apple-a-day!
Like most gardeners, all I need is soil and seed and I am happy to plant and harvest. So I came upon soil-sprouts as a gardener content to continue growing greens throughout the long winter months without a greenhouse, grow lights or cold frame. Just a cupboard and window sill is all I need to grow lots of fresh greens with The Daily Gardener Method of growing soil-sprouts.
I had heard about broccoli sprouts and seen the seeds offered in the catalogs but never tried them, they just didn’t appeal to me, and I had a great supply of greens already. But, I happened upon an article about broccoli sprouts that explained how researchers at Johns Hopkins University had discovered an antioxidant, sulforaphane that had great promise for fighting and preventing cancer. Wow. Shortly after that, on a business trip, I saw an article in a magazine in a Hyatt Hotel lobby that sited research that linked broccoli sprouts with healing stomach ulcers and an odd bacterium that resisted medicinal treatment. Again, there was mention of broccoli sprouts in the Men’s Health magazine by Rodale, sort of an off-the-cuff remark about the value of broccoli and broccoli sprouts. I realized that I needed to look into growing broccoli sprouts.
I thought to at least do a search online. I was surprised when tons of articles where listed. There was an article on the Dole (that is as in Dole fruits) website * that went even further about the healthful effects of Broccoli Sprouts. There was an article on research at Ohio State University related to bladder cancer. But the thing that kept jumping off the page was that this stuff in broccoli that was good for me was also in Broccoli Sprouts in quantities like 20 to 50 times the amount in regular vegetable broccoli. Cool. An ounce of Broccoli Sprouts is equivalent to a pound of vegetable broccoli, and on the high end up to 4 pounds of broccoli! Yipes! An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Have I got that right? An ounce of broccoli sprouts has as much sulforaphane as a pound of vegetable broccoli. Way to go sprouts!
This was a lot to digest. And it’s not that I know anything much about health food or medicine, but it is clear that there are lots of good reasons from a health stand point to try sprouting broccoli and all the Brassica family or the Cole vegetables. What I didn’t know was did they taste good, would they make good salad greens and could I easily work them into my soil-sprout routine. So I set out to try growing broccoli sprouts and all of the varieties in the broccoli family.
Using the same basic techniques that I know work for the other garden seeds, Sunflower, Radish, Pea and Buckwheat, I started growing a variety of Cole seeds: Broccoli, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Red Cabbage, Red Russian Kale, Purple Kohlrabi, Pak Choi, Kyona Mizuna, Kogane for starters.
The results are in and with a few variations on my basic techniques they grow beautifully. Not only are the Coles beautiful greens, they taste great and make a great addition to any salad, sandwich, taco or wrap, just like the other greens.
I have added broccoli kits for you to try these great soil-sprouts. The Broccoli Trial Kit is just to see what the greens are like. The Trial Kits have only one type of seed so you can choose one of either Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage, Purple Kohlrabi, or Canola. The Broccoli Sampler Kit offers a sampling of all four seed varieties. The King Cole Kit is like the Farm Stand Kit, a one months’ supply of all four seeds with 3” x 6” trays. If you are having trouble deciding what kit matches your need you are welcome to email me and I can help decide.
To grow a steady supply of Broccoli soil-sprouts I would recommend the Broccoli Daily Gardener Kit planting one 3x6 tray each day. If you feel adventurous though, go for the King Cole Kit with four different Cole family seeds, Broccoli, Chinese Cabbage, Purple kohlrabi, and Canola. These have been the most vigorous and productive greens I have found in the Cole family.
The value of fresh vegetables in our diet is widely accepted as an important part of daily meals. Whether for roughage or nutritional value, salad is a great way to get a daily nutritional boost! My family prepares a salad pretty much every night and everyone looks forward to digging in, with home made salad dressing or Annie’s Goddess dressing, it is always an adventure and taste treat. Last night I made a salad with broccoli, cress, red kale, radish sprouts and red leaf lettuce, topped with tomato, it was terrific. We have added broccoli soil-sprouts to our growing list of fresh greens from our indoor garden.
The research goes on at Johns Hopkins University where they “will begin testing broccoli sprouts in humans for its ability to prevent liver, breast, lung, prostate, stomach, and skin cancers.”
Link to Johns Hopkins University
Link to Dole Nutrition
* This is a quote from the Dole Nutrition Website listed above:
“ Ordinarily I reserve this space for personal musings on the social and cultural aspects of diet, nutrition and the obesity crisis. When the first few stories on the health benefits of glucosinolates hit my desk they didn't exactly strike me as fodder for a scintillating editorial. The very fact that they are often referred to as "indirect antioxidants" sounds sort of underwhelming.
But this unassuming name holds the key to a highly unusual function within the body. Most of the phytonutrients we read about -- lycopene, lutein, beta-carotene, etc. -- act as "direct" antioxidants. When we consume fruits and vegetables that contain these compounds, they work directly to neutralize free radicals by absorbing their negative energy, rendering them harmless and allowing them to be flushed out of our system.
The "indirect" antioxidants contained in foods high in glucosinolates -- broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower -- don''t directly attach to these toxic molecules. Rather they work to stimulate the body''s own antioxidant systems. This cascade of antioxidant activity -- unlike the one-shot, finite amount you get from eating a particular fruit or vegetable -- actually cycles over and over within the physiology, continuing to protect your system as many as 3 to 4 days after the glucosinolate-containing food has been consumed.”
Ohio State University
This is just a sampling of the many links to research about broccoli sprouts.
Copyright 2007 Peter Burke