Growing your own is really popular right now, and the Vectis hammies wanted to get in on it!
I wasn’t quite sure where to start.
What is suitable for hamsters?
How do you grow it when you have limited space and no garden?
The answer – sprouting! The hamsters love their fresh food, and it doesn’t get fresher than 5 minutes from cutting to feeding.
Getting Set Up
You can sprout many different seeds and beans, though some take longer than others. My current favourites are peas, cress, wheat and mung beans.
The peas are easy and cheap to buy , just look for dried peas at the supermarket! Look for seeds that are intended for sprouting or eating, not ones that are sold for planting in case they have chemical treatments.
You can also sprout hemp seed, linseed/flax seed, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds so you could take a handful of your hamster mix and use those seeds! Make sure to discard any non-seed parts so you aren’t feeding an unbalanced mix.
Cress and mung beans are easy to sprout – they just needs a plate and some damp kitchen towel. I found this method more time intensive as I had to take closer care to ensure the kitchen towel didn’t dry out.
This set-up is a sprouting tray with a perforated top tray and a bottom tray where the water sits. Lining the top tray with kitchen towel stops the smaller seeds falling through, and also keeps more moisture near the seeds.
Rather than pre-soaking the seeds (which I found tended to lead to mould), I just kept them damp by watering them twice a day – until the roots could reach the water reservoir.
The best bit of sprouting is the speed you get results! It takes under a week to have harvestable cress, and a couple of weeks for tasty pea shoots.
Make sure to keep watering the seeds each day, especially the cress whose roots may not be able to reach the water in the reservoir. Adding too much moisture to the seeds and kitchen towel can, however, lead to mould formation so don’t overdo it.
For the cress, just cut it low down with a clean pair of scissors. Then discard the roots and kitchen towel, and sew another batch.
Other seeds can be harvested twice without sewing again. The wheatgrass can be cut and then allowed to re-grow once or twice. If you cut the pea shoots above the lowest leaf, over the next week the stems will put out another shoot and soon you’ll have more to cut.
This large bowlful was the result of just that one sprouting tray and a couple of weeks on my kitchen surface and fed everyone in the hamster room!
The bonus of sprouting your own is that you can grow and cut as much as you need – for one hamster or many. Only feed small amounts, especially if your hamster isn’t used to fresh food.
The Vectis hamsters particularly love the pea shoots – the Vectis human does too!
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