Sprouting grains for livestock has been part of my daily routine since the winter of 2011. I started with what I had on hand which was a large number of litter trays that were used for starting garden seeds. With sprouting success came the desire to offer more pounds of fresh greens to the assortment of animals (sheep, dairy goats, rabbits and chickens) raised here.
Carrying so many trays to the water source several times each day was becoming burdensome. That was when I looked at the PVC plant stand my husband built with new eyes. By adding two levels, I was able to convert it into a 25 tray stand. The first shelf had been built very close to the ground and I needed some way to raise it. That is when I found that “Ace is the place with the helpful, hardware man”.
Bed risers were purchased, and they raised the system just the right amount so the bottom level can drain into the reservoirs.
I am fortunate to have kitchen in the basement which gives me a handy water source and drain. We don’t live in the lower level, so the kitchen is not used for cooking. This also means I can keep the room at about 63 degrees in the winter and it is much cooler down there in the summer. As a matter of fact, I was able to grow fodder for the goats & rabbits all summer by using a dehumidifier, an oscillating fan and a hygrometer to measure temperature and humidity
The stand is set up next to the sink with a hand held shower connected to the faucet. A towel is hung in front of the cupboard to protect it from splashing. The trays are positioned with the lowest level hanging the furthest out over the sump containers. Each level hangs out over the edge far enough for the water to drain into the end of the tray below so the ends drain through each other. This is not my favorite method because of uneven watering and the increased chances of mold. However, I’ve been doing this for months with the only problems being the back end of the trays don’t grow quite as tall & seem drier.
The width of this unit could be reduced if I had the right container for the sump. I need one that would span the length with a low enough profile to slide under the stand. Since I plan on automating later and perhaps using a condensate pump to carry the water to the drain, I’m not buying another container just for that purpose.
I water each tray individually 3x each day, morning, noon and night. This is jokingly referred to as my aerobic exercise. . I have to kneel for the bottom level, bend for the next & stretch for the highest. It only takes about 12 minutes to water all 24 because they are watered right on the stand. The hand held shower
is one we use when we bath the dogs. Were I to purchase one, I’d be sure it had a shut off on the handle. This one has to be turned off at the tap. I do appreciate the length of the hose on mine. It reaches each tray easily.
Of course, there are plans to automate this system. I even have the necessary supplies. My biggest problem is with the gutters to carry the waste water away. It will get there in time. This is much more convenient than how I first began
. I’m amazed each morning when I break up 40 pounds of healthy, living food that I grew myself.
Hopefully, this will give some ideas to anyone who’d like to try this. Sometimes, what you need is right around the house or at your nearest resale store.
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