Have you grown Microgreens before?
The first official day of winter is right around the corner, but for many of us, it feels like its been here for weeks. The dreaded long days of winter are ahead of us, with Spring feeling like its no where in sight.
Don’t wait for spring to begin planting. Give it a try today!
The best part is it can be done right in your kitchen window or available windowsill.
Consider growing some Microgreens. They grow quickly, easily and may be harvested as soon as 1 week from planting.
Here’s what you need to get started:
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens is a term developed by marketers and farmers to appeal to restaurants. The actual developmental stage of microgreens, is the period when the plant develops its cotyledons (embryonic first seed leaves) and first set of true leaves.
The microgreens we eat are typically salad vegetables like arugula, beets, lettuces, swiss chard, mustard and kale. They may also be herbs like basil and cilantro and other vegetables like cabbage, radishes and broccoli.
Microgreens are harvested at the soil line and do not include the roots. They are typically 1 to 3 inches in height.
The average harvest period of microgreens from seeding to eating is approximately 10 to 14 days. Microgreens do not store well and should be consumed shortly after harvesting. They are also not recommended for cooking, due to their high water content. It is best to be extremely gentle when washing microgreens, due to their delicate nature.
Nutritional Value of Microgreens
Researchers have found that microgreens contain 4 to 40 times more concentrated nutrients, than their mature vegetable counterparts. Specifically, red cabbage, cilantro and radishes contains 40 times higher levels of vital nutrients than their mature counterparts. The microgreens with the most intense colour, are the ones that are most nutritious.
Difference between Microgreens and Sprouts
A main difference between microgreens and sprouts, is that microgreens are grown in soil, while sprouts are soaked in water, rinsed daily and grown in a jar.
Microgreens are cut at the soil line, while sprouts are germinated and the plant stem is consumed, along with a closed cotyledon. A first leaf is not developed prior to consuming.
Here’s a fun project to try on your own or with kids
This project is a fun activity to try with your kids. It’s even enjoyable to do on your own.
Growing microgreens is easy. It doesn’t require expensive equipment and may be grown right on your windowsill. I prefer to use plastic salad containers and plastic fruit packaging boxes. I’ve even used aluminum loaf pans from the dollar store. Anything is possible.
Here’s what you need:
- Disposable aluminum loaf pan* (or other container, i.e.. plastic, ceramic, clay, etc.)
- Soil-less potting mix (I used pro-mix, consisting of peat moss, vermiculite and perlite)
- One or more varieties of seeds suitable for microgreens, i.e. lettuce, kale, cilantro, arugula, basil, radish, mustard, cabbage, etc.
- Small piece of plastic wrap
- Fill the container 3/4 full with the soil-less potting mix.
- Sprinkle seeds thickly over the surface of the soil. The seeds can be close together since they only need to grow to the size of the first true leaf.
- Water the seeds just enough to moisten them. I use a gentle water stream, otherwise the seeds will take a swim. If the soil looks like it has too much water, gently drain excess water out the side, without spilling any soil.
- Label your garden.
- Cover the loaf pan with plastic wrap and place in a dark spot.
- Check your little garden daily until the seeds have sprouted.
- Once the seeds have sprouted, remove the plastic wrap and place in a sunny window.
- Begin snipping greens anytime after the cotyledon leaves have emerged or after the first true leaves. Water gently whenever needed.
*Note: I don’t use containers with drainage holes for this project. I find it unnecessary since the plants don’t grow to full size and the vegetables are consumed within a few weeks. This also makes it easier for me to only water occasionally.