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QUESTIONS/ANSWERS: SEED AND EQUIPMENT SUPPLIES

by Tom Billings

Q: Where can I get almonds, preferably organic, at a good price? A: Almonds are expensive, and organic almonds are usually very expensive. As I sprout and peel my almonds, I prefer large almonds to the small ones, which are more work to peel. From my viewpoint, large non-organic almonds are preferred over small, organic almonds. Currently (1997), I buy very high quality, large, non-organic almonds in 5 pound bags, for $3.75 per pound. (These are shelled, of course.) My supplier is a local Indian store: a store that sells mostly foods from India. I would encourage you to search around for local suppliers who sell in bulk.

If you insist on organic, you will probably pay a high price. Jaffe Bros. in Valley Center, California, sells organic almonds (and other supplies) in bulk, by mail order. However, you might be able to beat/match their prices by negotiating with a health food store or Co-op. (Some stores will give you a discount if you buy a case, others are greedy and will not. You have to ask to find out.)

P.S. I have heard rumors of growers in California selling organic almonds directly to consumers, at amazingly low prices. If any reader knows of reliable low-cost sources, please let me know, and I will advise others through Internet and the SF-LiFE newsletter.

Q: Where can I get trays to grow buckwheat, sunflower greens? What type of soil to use? What about drainage in the trays? A: Ann Wigmore recommends using plastic cafeteria trays; they have no drainage holes. You might be able to buy them from a local supplier; if not, the Ann Wigmore Foundation in Boston sells them by mail order.

Many people using the cafeteria trays report serious problems with mold. Many commercial wheatgrass operations use the larger, deeper plastic trays used by plant nurseries to grow seedlings. They also have holes in the bottom for drainage. You can buy those trays from garden supply stores and/or large plant nurseries. They can be purchased by mail order from some mail order garden suppliers.

The seedling trays, if you provide drainage for them, may reduce the mold problems. They are up to 2 inches deep, which gives more room for plant roots than the shallow cafeteria trays.

Soil to use: most people use commercial soil mixes, to which you might want to add some lime to reduce acidity (most commercial mixes include ground up bark, which is often acidic - lime helps offset that). How much lime? Maybe 1 tablespoon per large tray. Dolomite limestone is very cheap and readily available at garden supply centers.

Q: I want to add spice/aromatic seeds to my sprout mixtures (e.g., fennel, coriander, cumin). Where can I get such seeds? A: The best source for such seeds will likely be a local Indian store. Aromatic seeds (dill, fennel, cumin, coriander, cardamom, mustard) are often available in the bulk herb section of larger health food stores. The prices in a health food store will be much higher than an Indian store!

Some remarks on aromatic seeds. Note that if you are growing short sprouts, i.e., sprouting the seeds for 1-2 days, the seeds named above take longer to develop a root shoot (cardamom takes 10-14 days). However, that is not a problem - it's fine to eat them before they have a root shoot. Their flavor will be definitely be available when you eat the sprout mixture. Special note re: cardamom and caraway. These seeds have such a strong flavor that I recommend just soaking them in water and using in very small quantities - if left to "sprout", they get bitter and their flavor becomes overpowering.

 

 

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