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One thing that we have to pay attention to here on our homestead is seed viability. After a few years of holding onto those seed packets, the germination rate in our garden begins to plummet. And so we generally only keep seed around for a year or two at the most, depending on our ability to keep it cool and dry.

Sprouting seeds are no different. After exposure to certain elements and when enough time has passed since the original seed harvest, these seeds begin to lose their livelihood, eventually refusing to sprout under any conditions.

And so when I recently came across a mix of sprouting seeds that we’ve had for literally 4-5 years, I figured things could be a bit hit or miss when it came to their ability to sprout. I also knew that I had a good use for them, even if it wasn’t in our salad.

Here’s what happened…

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The first thing I do when sprouting any seed is to give them a good soak. This mix of seeds is a salad sprout mix containing fenugreek, mustard, and broccoli seeds that I had purchased nearly five years ago. Because they are smaller seeds, they only need a 4-6 hour soak.

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Have I mentioned how much I love this multi-level sprouter? I am so not a kitchen gadget person but this little tool makes sprouting not only doable, but so easy. You can soak the seeds right in the white base. Then drain and rinse the seeds and distribute them among the four sprouting trays.

After the initial soaking, I poured two cups of water into the top tray of the sprouter and it then trickles down to the other trays, giving each layer a rinse with just the initial pour. You then empty the white base before the next rinse.

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So I followed this routine – rinsing 2-3 times per day – for five days. Now, I generally will begin to see a bit of “life” emerge from sprouting seeds after about two days, three at the most. By day four the fenugreek seeds were just starting to open up but even by day five wouldn’t fully sprout. The mustard and broccoli seeds were completely lifeless.

While I was just a little bit disappointed, I kind of expected this result. Five years is a very long time to keep sprouting seeds around, especially when making little effort to keep them in a cool, dry place, as I had.

So what will I do with all of these seeds?

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Soak them and feed them to our chickens, of course! They love all sorts of seeds and while they didn’t sprout, there is still some nutritional value to these little guys.

I’ll also be using some new sprouting seeds that I know are viable and healthy.