Introduction: Automated Misting Sprouter

Picture of Automated Misting Sprouter

If you love sprouts, this is THE way to grow them. It is fully automated, and all you have to do it put seeds in the trays, and the trays in the growing bin. Once they are ready, harvest, store, and eat. My sprouts have also grown considerably faster in this, than using a counter-top sprouter. 

Currently I have only found one (commercially produced) automated sprouter on the market, and it costs ~$180 for just over 1sqft. of growing area. The growing area for this sprouter is ~4.25sqft and cost me ~$50, although I did have a majority of the parts in my garage. If you were to do this as conservative as possible I would estimate you could do this project for around $70 assuming you use recycled take-home (to-go) restaurant containers for seed trays and find a bin to do this in around the house. You could reduce the cost even further by checking garage sales for irrigation timers, and valves.

Step 1: Gather Tools and Parts

Picture of Gather Tools and Parts

Parts you will need:
A bin with lid (I used one ~34" x ~18")
Mister kit (Orbit 20066 Portable 1/4-Inch Outdoor kit)
Irrigation valve (recommend 3/4" so you don't have to adapt it too much)
Irrigation timer (make sure it has at least 6 daily start times)
All appropriate adapters to connect your system to your specific water supply, and interconnect all components you choose

Optional parts:
Whole house water filter (Culligan HF-150A, or Omni 0B1)
Carbon Cartridge for above mentioned filter
Calcium Inhibitor filter (WaterSentinel WS-21)

Tools:
Wire cutters
Heat gun
Screwdriver
Pliers
Razorblade / SHARP Knife
Drill and bits

Step 2: Install the Mister in the Bin

Picture of Install the Mister in the Bin

If you have spade bits they will work the best for cutting into plastic. I decided to install 5 misters into this bin, so I measured 3" down on the container on both sides, and drew a straight line end to end. I then measured the width of the container and divided by 7 (number of misters + 2 to account for NOT installing misters on the ends of the bin). For my bin this came out to be ~5", so I marked the center(only works if you use an odd number of nozzles), and then marked 5" increments on the line in both directions, then drilled holes. The bit size I chose was just right to allow the mister to be unscrewed from the "T" (it's socket) and reinstalled with the nozzle inside of the bin (and the hose outside). 

After the holes are drilled remove all of the mister nozzles, and T-sockets from the water line they come connected to. You can do this by pulling back the retaining ring (may need pliers) and then cutting the line with a razor, and bending the hose to push the barbed connection out the side of the tube (as pictured). You can then use the remnants to reconnect these at the correct width to mount in your bin. Start from one end (considering which end you want the water line to extend from) and put a mister in. Attach one of the remnant pieces of hose (saliva, or water will help), and cut it to length to extend to the next hole. Connect another T-socket to this hose, and install the nozzle. Repeat these steps until you have all your nozzles installed.

Step 3: Install Drain Hole

Picture of Install Drain Hole

I forgot to photograph this as I did it, but I do have pictures of the finished product. What I did was find a bottle around the house that had a ridge around the neck (as most plastic bottles do) and was an appropriate size to not only fit in the corner of the bin, but also fit a piece of tubing I had in the garage. This ended up being a nasal spray bottle (a 24-hour energy is a similar size). I removed the part that goes up your nose, and cut off the threads below the ring leaving it attached to the part with the threads (this is what you will use) Then find a drill bit that is a size the threads will fit through, but the ring will not. Drill your drain hole in the corner of your choosing. I recommend one of the front corners because you'll need to tilt the bin toward the drain, and you probably won't want it tilted away from you. You can then epoxy the threaded part of the bottle you used into the bin with the threads out (as pictured). you can screw on the cap to hold it in place, just be sure not to glue the cap on. 

Now if you have a piece of tubing that fits on the threads, or you plan on just letting it drain into a pan below you are done. For my situation, my tubing fit on the cap, but not on the threads. To make this work for me, I just drilled a hole in the cap, and then slid my tubing onto the cap. This gave me a detachable piece of tubing from the bin that allows easy cleaning.

Now drain into something, or outside to your planter

Step 4: Connect to Your Water Supply

Picture of Connect to Your Water Supply

I chose to connect to my water spigot outside of my living room where I planned on locating the sprouter. You could also use a supply line tap under your kitchen sink, or in your laundry room, or just put a diverter on one of your faucets. Doing it like me will require you drill a hole in your wall. 

Fit all of your parts together, starting with whatever you choose for your supply line, and finishing with a 1/4" high pressure water line connector. The sharkbite quick connectors are great for this.

My setup used:

FAUCET ->
1 male hose to barb
1 female 3/4 hose to barb
1 female 3/4 hose to 3/4 pipe
FILTER ->
1 short 3/4 male to 3/4 male pipe
SPRINKLER VALVE ->
3/4" male to 1/2" female adapter
1/2" male to 1/4" sharkbite quick connector
1/4" supply line
SPROUTER

Adjust yours accordingly


Step 5: Get Some Seed Trays

Picture of Get Some Seed Trays

You can use just about anything for these trays. I have been using trays from a coutertop sprouter I no longer use, and some trays I bought online. You can also used "microgreen trays", whatgrass sprouting trays, or the plastice take-home containers you get when you get your food to-go from restaurants. Just be sure to drill enough small holes in them to allow adequate drainage. You can also epoxy on some little rubber feet (or some substitute) to get them off of the floor of the bin to help them drain. You only NEED two of them to slant the container in one direction, and give it drainage space.

The white trays pictured are available from http://www.greensmoothie.com/sprout/gogreen.php (the inspiration for this instructable)

Step 6: Program Your Timer

Picture of Program Your Timer

Finally, you're done. Now all you have to do is program how often you want this thing to turn on. I live in a very dry climate, and initially I had mine run 4 times a day at 6 hour intervals for 4 minutes. This worked fine, but sometimes my seeds would near drying out before the 6th hour. I would recommend watering at 3 hour intervals for 2 minutes, and you could skip some of the night watering. Currently I am watering at 6a, 9a, noon, 3p, 6p, 9p, and midnight. This is working well for me now. You may need to fine tune this for your climate, but it should be a good place to start.

If you need a place to get seeds, try sproutpeople.org They have excellent seeds, and selection, and incredible support for thier product. All of the harvest times for every seed/variety they sell is posted, and a lot of videos as well. 

Be sure to leave the lid cracked open approx 1 inch when sprouting. You could probably put ventilation holes in the lid with screen glued over it as well, but I haven't tried it yet.

Happy sprouting!

Comments

manneokoko (author)2017-05-02

Hello.
I dont have access to a watersource or drain where I plan to have the sprouter.
Would it work to build a closed system with same watertank as source and drain, and a pump with timer betwen the tank and the sprouter?
A waterfilter could be placed before the pump to clean the water every round, and the water in the tank would need to be changed regulary.
Would it work? How big tank? How often to change the water?
Thanks

mattgreen.com (author)manneokoko2017-05-02

I suspect your proposed setup will work, but you may be reducing some of the health benefits of sprouting. One thing that occurs during sprouting is the removal of Phytic Acid (and possibly other toxins/undesirables), which then is discarded in the used water. As you can probably extrapolate, you will then be re-washing with Phytic Acid. If there is no option for fresh water, perhaps just a larger storage vessel to significantly dilute these elements. Exchanging the water would also help alleviate this problem.

I'd like to add that I am not a botanist, nor do I have any other official credentials to make these statements. I am simply a health nutrition enthusiast. This answer is true to the best of my knowledge, and according to things I have read in my experience.

manneokoko (author)mattgreen.com2017-05-03

Thanks for the answer.
Would not the filter remove the Phytic acid? And even if it didnt, it would be as easy as just rinsing the sprouts before eating them?

There are some commercial sprouters that circulates the water, without filter and and a very small tank and it seems to work.

Another possible problem someone mentioned with circulating the same water is that the nozzles could get clogged from the dirty water, but that also I was hoping the filter will take care of. What do you think?

Im very thankful for the help, it would be expensive to buy the equipment just to fund out it didnt work.

mattgreen.com (author)manneokoko2017-05-03

I would not expect a simple filter to remove any toxins, however I would expect it to remove particulates. That should prevent clogging of the system, and removing toxins post sprouting may be as simple as rinsing. I'll leave that up to you, and Google to figure out ;) Even if the phytic acid remains, it's still going to be (way) better to sprout than for someone to continue eating a standard american diet. Don't let that slow you down in the least, it's always better to do something than nothing. Post it when you're done, I'm sure there are others who would love to see the potential for deviation from the original project. Happy sprouting!

manneokoko (author)mattgreen.com2017-05-04

Ok, one more question:
Did you notice any significant drop in waterpressure when using the filter?

I need to calculate if the pump will have enough power with the filter, since i want it to drive 2 sprouter (20 mist nozzles). Do you know what wter pressure comes out of your faucet?

Yes, i will post back here when its finished for others to see ?

RawManRaines (author)2015-08-19

OK so now what do you have to say about your sprouter

How does it work now?

Have you had any challenges and/or changes upgrades?

Please tell me as I have built things from here before only to find they did not work well - so I am most interested to hear from you now - please!

:)

It's currently packed up, but I never had any problems with it. The only thing I would do different with mine would be to make it a bit smaller. It took up too much space where I had it, and I rarely needed as much area as I had for sprouting.

ParCreate (author)2014-11-22

Impressive. Seems a bit overkill for the application however. I'm thinking Arduino controller with maybe windshield fluid injector and a gallon of spring water? Maybe even with a pre-filter?

dion1231 (author)2014-05-14

I will be making one soon! Thanks to the instructions. The hardest thing for me to find are the sprout trays! Where or what site did you get those white sprouting trays? I can't find them anywhere other than the official easy green trays which are rather expensive. I'm in Canada.

mattgreen.com (author)dion12312014-05-14

I primarily used trays out of an old countertop sprouter, but you don't need to spend any money on trays. Just get some plastic to-go containers from a local restaurant, or bakery (cookies come in them). You can use both halves, just poke some holes in them for the water to drain. Nothing fancy required!

Lorees (author)2012-02-10

Great idea... Have all I need in my garden shed. Will be building this over the weekend.

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