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DIY: Automatic Sprouter

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DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  boffer on 5/6/2014, 10:05 pm

This DIY is about making an automatic sprouter for seeds to eat, like alfalfa seeds, mung beans, etc. If you would like to learn more about sprouting, seed sources, and methods, then check out this thread.

If your family likes to eat lots of sprouts, this is a very convenient way to grow them: No need to fuss with rinsing them several times a day-just set it and forget it.  I've tried the mason jars, and I've tried  trays like this, which work better than the jars, but an automatic sprouter is the best!  I created this sprouter for my tool-challenged forum friends.  The only tools required are scissors and a cup of coffee.  The supplies can be found at Home Depot, and I assume at Lowes too.

There are many different types of automatic sprouters, but they all have three things in common:

1. A fresh water supply
2. A method to apply the water
3. A way to handle the waste water.

1. Water Supply

In order to keep this DIY nearly tool-less, we'll use water from a convenient faucet that has garden hose threads.  It could be the faucet on the outside of your house, a yard hydrant, or your washing machine water hook up.  My setup is indoors using a washing machine faucet.  

Use one of these:

You'll find these near the garden hoses and hose accessories.

Then you can hook up your washer and sprouter at the same time:


You'll need a garden hose long enough to reach from the faucet to wherever you set your sprouter.

2. Applying the water

To keep this simple and convenient, I used the ubiquitous Rubbermaid 18 gallon tub, but  any brand or quality will do.  The  depth of the tub is more important than width or length.  In the neighborhood of 16-20 inches deep is close enough.

(We won't be cutting holes in the box, so you'll be able to re-purpose the tub down the road if you want to.)

You might even have one already.:

Keeping the seeds damp 24/7 is important for good germination and fast growth.  The water timer is the key component in the system.  In order to keep this near tool-less, we'll use a timer designed for garden hoses.  For the most part, they're usually the cheaper option and easier to use.

I happened to have one like this one:



Home Depot sells them online only.   Dripworks does as well.

It's very simple to use: turn the knob to 1 minute, and turn the other knob to 2 hours.  That's it.  The one disadvantage is that it doesn't have a 'turn on right now' setting which is handy for testing purposes, but not necessary in normal operation.

When shopping for a timer, look for the ability to turn on every 2 to 4 hours for 1 or 2 minutes.  Not all timers can do that.  I have this timer set to turn on every 2 hours for 1 minute, and I have another set to turn on every 4 hours for 2 minutes.  Both timing patterns work well.

I also had this timer on hand, but I don't think they make this model anymore.


I like the 'turn on right now' setting, but otherwise it works the same as the other timer.

The garden hose from the faucet will connect directly to the timer input.  On the timer output, we'll use an adapter like this to convert to a micro-hose.  The adapter screws onto the timer, and the hose just slides into the adapter.  No tools needed.


Hose thread to tube adapter:

This was the smallest roll of micro-tubing that HD had.  Use scissors to cut the hose.


The micro-tubing is going to supply the water to the mister/fogger do-hickies.  (the words mister and fogger seem to be interchangeable; I don't know if there is a technical difference.)  This is what I'm using; use two for a tote:


http://www.homedepot.com/p/DIG-Corp-2-GPH-Mister-with-Memory-Flex-Tubing-7760F/204758539

I like these because they have a wire inside the tube to hold the shape, and the tip unscrews in case they become clogged from my unfilitered well water.

To install the misters, use duct tape, zip ties, twisty ties, baling wire, or anything else you can think of, to attach the tube to a stick that lays across the top of the tub.  I used an old yard stick.  Spacing of the misters is not important because their spray pattern is plenty big enough to cover the tub wherever they are.  One mister would probably do the job, but I used two.




To hook up the misters to the water supply tube, you'll need one of these 'T's.  The smallest package I could find was 10, for $2.

Tee package :

http://www.homedepot.com/p/DIG-Corp-1-4-in-Barb-Tees-10-Pack-H82A/100178513

Use scissors to cut the tubing.  When inserting the 'T' into the tubing, to avoid feeling like this   dip the tube end into your hot coffee or tea for 10 seconds to make it more pliable.  If you use a match or lighter flame to warm the tubing, like I tried the first time, you'll end up with leaks.

When you goof, and want to remove the 'T' from the tubing, use a knife or razor to cut a shallow slice on the end of the tubing.


3.  Waste Water Management

In order to keep this project simple and nearly tool-free, we'll just collect the water in the tub, rather than hook it up to a drain somehow.

In 8 days of use, the two misters put out 6 gallons of water, which filled the tub about 1/3.  I used  coffee cans to raise the sprout trays above the collected water.  When you harvest your sprouts, just empty the tub.  Easy peasy.




To use your assembled sprouter, add seeds to a tray, put the tray in the tub, and walk away for a week.  No need to pre-soak the seeds.  Pictured here are 1 TBSP of alfalfa seeds on the left, and 1 TBSP of mung beans on the right.



When you come back, you'll have sprouts to eat:



I put the lid on the tub for the first batch I tried.  The sprouts were nearly all white from growing in the dark.  I set the tray near a window for most of a day, and they greened right up.  Green sprouts are definitely more visually appealing!

I've left the top off since then, since I don't get any spray coming out of the top.

Schematic of sprouter set-up:

Good thing I'm handier with tools than I am drawing!   Razz



Options:

If you have room, you could connect your timer directly to the faucet, and eliminate the need for the garden hose.  Use care: the weakness of this style of timer is that they can't handle much torque when one end is securely fixed.  

This is another method I'm experimenting with.  Instead of a tub, I'm doing my sprouting in a utility deep sink that I don't need to use often.  


I drilled holes to hold the misters in a scrap piece of twin-wall polycarbonate.  Plexiglas would work, too.  I used an old irrigation timer and solenoid valve for this sprouter.  


If you have a top load washer, and only wash on weekends, the washer could be your tub!

Just to be on the safe side, do your testing in an area that can get wet without damaging anything.  If it's warm outside, you could grow your sprouts outside.  Once it's set up and working properly, there's not much to go wrong.

If you have ideas for improving this sprouter, please speak up.  But remember, I'm trying to keep this as tool-less as possible.   And let me know if there are boo-boos in my instructions.  I've made 4 batches of sprouts so far,  and the sprouter is a keeper!
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Re: DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/6/2014, 11:23 pm

Holy cow, it's fun to see your ingenuity. Growing sprouts is so simple it's amazing you would go to the trouble. I could see doing something like this if you were trying to grow enough for a restaurant, but can't imagine bothering at home.
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Re: DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  sanderson on 5/7/2014, 12:10 am

Some folks live to tinker -   
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Re: DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  Marc Iverson on 5/7/2014, 3:24 am

Yeah, it's fun seeing what people come up with.
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Re: DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  sanderson on 5/7/2014, 3:26 am

Very Happy 
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Re: DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  Goosegirl on 5/7/2014, 8:37 am

boffer wrote: I created this sprouter for my tool-challenged forum friends.  The only tools required are scissors and a cup of coffee.  

okay  Love it!  darn funny 

GG   reading reading reading reading reading
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Re: DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  plantoid on 5/7/2014, 8:49 am

Nice one Boffer,
 Are you scoffing the sprouts as is or juicing them ?

Do you use a salt paste etc .to sterilize the rubber maid tub in-between growing the batches?

 I ask because I noticed a green slime /stain starting to develop in the big tub.


 Have you noticed any small bug's /flies visiting the sprouts when it's day time & humid ?

 The sheet of twin wall plastic should solve any problem that may arise in that area so long as it fits well.

 Can you put up some close up's of your spray /misting heads ?

Do you always have the same constant pressure on your incoming cold water tap ( faucet ).
 Over here the pressure varies considerably over 24 hrs. especially at peak demand like meal times and getting up times.

 Inside the take off from the timer out into the micro bore tube  .... two of the adapters I use  on my spray /misting heads  have small restrictor inserts so that it Can even out the volumes sprayed I have a couple of adaptors .

 Nowadays  almost all my micro spray heads have a 90 degree or 180 degree fine spray arc and an integral turn off knob.

The only thing I can really think of to watch out for and give more consideration to are :-

Is that your best using a strong domestic cold water rigid supply pipe line in the house rather than a rubber or a reinforced rubber one to the faucet ( tap) & timer because soft flexible rubber hoses do tend to leak if left under pressure for a few months and are being gently moved around  . Washing machine hoses are a very special sort of extremely strong walled plastic nylon reinforced  hose set to the connectors with special crimps  & are specifically designed to take all the vibrations without leaking .

 With simple hoses the leaking tends to get worse if the flexi hoses are exposed to strong sunlight & you use worm drive type hose clips to fit them to the faucet adaptor.
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Re: DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  AtlantaMarie on 5/7/2014, 11:29 am

Very nice, boffer!  My fav is sunflower sprouts!
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Re: DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  boffer on 5/8/2014, 12:59 am

Marc Iverson wrote:I could see doing something like this if you were trying to grow enough for a restaurant, but can't imagine bothering at home.
My wife is on a sprout jag.  She might as well open a restaurant cause she sure doesn't know how to cook for just two!

I came across a rather ingenious sprouter on the internet: It was installed on the wall above a  toilet; every time the toilet was flushed, the sprouts were misted, and the excess water drained back into the tank.  It was not a surprise when SWMBO  said the idea was a non-starter.   rofl 


plantoid wrote:
Are you scoffing the sprouts as is or juicing them ?
Eating them on everything at the moment!

I ask because I noticed a green slime /stain starting to develop in the big tub.
I thought your eyes were getting bad?  Wink  It's a used tub that's stained from it's former use.  Nothing funky is growing.

Have you noticed any small bug's /flies visiting the sprouts when it's day time & humid ?
Ambient environment day and night is 60°F and 50% RH.  No issues with bugs so far.

Can you put up some close up's of your spray /misting heads ?
Look at the enlarged pic on the link I posted for them.  I can't do better than that.

Do you always have the same constant pressure on your incoming cold water tap ( faucet ).
I have well water; the pump cycles on/off at 40/60 PSI. I'm not using filters, regulators, or restrictors. As long as the trays holding the seeds drain properly, the volume of water applied in a minute or two isn't important as long as there's enough water to get the sprouts wet.


The only thing I can really think of to watch out for and give more consideration to are :...
Stainless steel braided supply lines seem to be the way all flex  lines are handled these days. I just used what I had on hand.
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Re: DIY: Automatic Sprouter

Post  Goosegirl on 5/8/2014, 8:36 am

Great posts Boffer & Plantoid! I love 'listening' to the 2 of you match wits with construction/invention/experimentation!

GG - A wannabe tinkerer with limited brain cells!

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