All we know that fresh vegetables is best but we don’t all have garden to grow our own greens. Microgreens are a great alternative and it’s easy to get your little indoor garden established.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are tender immature greens produced from the seeds of herbs and vegetables. They are similar to sprouts in nutritional value but different in that only the leaves and stem of the baby plant are eaten, not the root as is done with sprouts.
Sprouts are usually grown in water and harvested within 2-3 days while microgreens are grown in soil, require sunlight, and are harvested after 1-3 weeks of growing time, when they are about 2 inches tall.
What are main the differences between microgreens and the full-grown vegetables?
Microgreens are clearly more nutrient dense, meaning typically they are more concentrated sources of vitamins and minerals because they are harvested before it grows to its full potential. Because that these recently germinated seeds have all the nutrients that the small plants need to grow bigger. This generally happens 7 to 14 days after the seeds germinate. Also, growing these plants smaller releases a more intense flavor than more mature vegetable greens.
What are the health benefits of Microgreens?
Researchers have found that Microgreens can have up to 40 times more vital nutrients than mature plants. For example, red cabbage microgreens had 40 times more vitamin E and six times more vitamin C than mature red cabbage. Cilantro microgreens had three times more beta-carotene than mature cilantro.
Benefits of Growing Microgreens
1. Quick to grow: from ‘seed to feed’ in just 1-3 weeks depending on which variety you choose.
2. You can grow an incredible number of plants in a tiny area = high yield to space ratio.
3. Minimal cost, time and effort required for a ‘fast food’ healthy harvest of organic greens.
4. Perfect solution for urban living and people with no room or time for a garden.
5. Simple requirements. You just need access to good light (e.g. a well lit bench indoors), a tray/suitable shallow container, water and a growing medium.
6. Suitable for all climates.
7. Indoor edible garden. You can grow microgreens indoors on a sunny windowsill or kitchen bench. They are also suited to a mini greenhouse, or outdoors on your balcony.
8. Nutrient-dense food. Microgreens contain digestible vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients that provide a wide variety of nutritional health benefits. They are packed with flavour, colour, texture, living enzymes and nutrients.
9. No loss of nutrient value. When you harvest your microgreens just before serving, this maximizes nutrients.
10. Variety of flavours/textures. Microgreens have a delicate crunchy texture and can be used as garnishes to add flavour and colour.
11. Fantastic value. Many varieties will regrow and produce several harvests.
Which seeds work best?
Salad greens, leafy vegetables, herbs and even edible flowers can be grown as microgreens, though some varieties are better suited than others. Beginners often start by growing one type of seed, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, chia, sunflower or buckwheat — among the easiest-to-grow varieties of microgreens — in a single container. (You can easily grow different seeds in several containers, and mix your microgreens after harvesting.)
You can also find seeds for salad mixes and specially selected microgreen mixes that combine greens with similar growth rates, compatible flavors and beautiful coloring including reds, purples and greens. Since they were created with grower success in mind, they’re also a good choice for beginners.
What i need for growing’
If you have a sunny windowsill, a shallow container, some potting mix and suitable seeds, you’ve got all the essentials for growing your own microgreens.
Choose a shallow container with good drainage at least 5cm deep. A re-used plastic container with holes in the bottom works well and you can even put one of these inside a more attractive container. For growing, a shallow container filled with a substrate is required. You can use a plastic juice carton, Styrofoam cup, or the plastic container strawberries are packaged in.The container should be at least 5 cm deep and have drain hole at the bottom.
Seeds used for growing micro-vegetables should be from organic cultivation but may also be a seed that is not treated with fungicide.
Take care not to allow the water to puddle or the seeds may be washed out of line. Water very lightly but often. Excessive watering can lead to mildew and decay of micro-vegetables. As the seeds sprout you will notice fine white hairs forming. These are the plant’s roots.
How do I grow microgreens?
Growing micro herbs involves the same approach as when propagating any seed. Sow seeds at a depth of half their diameter.
Although micro greens generally prefer sun, they grow for such a short time that a little shade is not a problem, so place them wherever you have space.
During the growth period it would be good to provide about 12 hours of daylight. If the days are shorter, it is desirable to provide additional illumination.
The optimal temperature of most of the micro-vegetables is about 20 degrees.
- Find a south-facing window with plenty of sunlight or install an inexpensive growlight.
- Cover the bottom of the container with an inch or two of organic moistened potting soil or mix. Flatten and level it with your hand or a small piece of cardboard, taking care not to over-compress the soil.
- Scatter seeds evenly on top of the soil. Press gently into the soil using your hand or the cardboard.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Dampen the surface with a mister. If you prefer, you can skip this step and instead cover the container with a clear lid or plastic wrap until the seeds are sprouted. The cover retains moisture around the seed and ensures better germination.
- While waiting for sprouts to appear, usually within three to seven days, use the mister once or twice daily to keep the soil moist but not wet.
- Once seeds have sprouted, remove the cover (if you’ve used one) and continue to mist once or twice a day.
A general harvesting timeline follows leaf growth. It’s usually done when the second set of leaves appear. Use scissors to cut the stems above the soil level, or you can pull up entire clumps of greens (you cannot harvest more than once).then rinse under water and use immediately.
Want to grow more? Leave the old roots in place and simply scatter additional seeds.