Why Growing Microgreens Should Be Your New Favorite Year-round ActivityPosted: June 18, 2017
Homegrown microgreens could very easily be the most nutrition-per-unit-cost we can get for our money.
A 2012 UDSA study assessing the nutrition content of 25 different microgreens concluded that microgreens possess significantly higher nutrient densities than mature leaves of the same plant. As an example, red cabbage microgreens have six times the vitamin C than mature red cabbage. Adding microgreens to your diet is an easy way to not only add freshness to winter meals, but also add a big punch of nutrients right when we typically eat less fresh foods, like in winter.
Buying microgreens from the market can be expensive. Instead, grow your own microgreens. It’s fairly easy to do, doesn’t require a lot of space, and produces tasty and highly nutritious food. Don’t have access to a garden? Good news, you don’t need one! Microgreens are easy to grow in a jar or a box. Here’s how to create your very own microgarden out of containers you might have laying around the house.
1. Choose the Seeds
Some common varieties of seeds to use are: amaranth, basil, beets, broccoli, cabbage, celery, chard, chervil, coriander/cilantro, endive, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, mustard, parsley, peas, radish, rocket/arugula, spinach, and sorrel. But of course, these are just a few to choose from- experiment with seeds to find one based on your own taste preferences. To ensure that you are avoiding food that may have been fumigated or treated with a fungicide, choose only organic seeds.
2. Choose the Container
You’ll need a container that is a few inches deep at minimum. Garden centers sell special containers for sprouting seeds, but you can make a planter out of almost anything- as long there is proper drainage. Old vegetable or berry containers are perfect for sprouting seeds, as are prepackaged salad boxes and mason jars. Do you have an old metal cooking pan or muffin tin you don’t use any more? Simply drill a few drainage holes and it becomes a microgarden that is both functional and free.
3. Choose the Soil
It’s important to use a quality growing medium for the seeds because they contain the proper ingredients that boost seed germination. The better nutrition going into the plant also means you’ll be eating the most nutrient-dense food possible. Seeds love loose, crumbly soil full of organic matter. Choose an organic potting mix, or make your own.
4. Pre-Soak Larger Seeds
Pre-soaking will help your seeds germinate more quickly. Pre-soak larger seeds such as mung beans or peas in warm water for a few hours or overnight. This step isn’t necessary for smaller seeds.
If your container has drainage holes, lay a moistened paper towel on the bottom to stop the potting soil to fall through. Fill the container roughly 3/4 full of growing medium, about one inch deep. Sprinkle the seeds over the dirt, then cover with an additional 1/8 inches of soil. Lightly spray the entire soil with a misting spray bottle to water without disturbing the seeds. Make sure the dirt is moist, but not soaked. You don’t want the soil so wet that the seed either rots or drowns. If you don’t have a misting spray bottle just be careful watering the seeds to prevent them from dislodging.
Place your newly planted seeds in the sun. The seeds will need a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight every day. Don’t have access to a sunny windowsill? Try grow microgreens under gardeners grow lamps. The seeds will start to sprout within a few days, but you’ll want to wait ten days to two weeks to harvest when you see the the first set of leaves.
Begin harvesting microgreens once the seeds have produced its first set of true leaves. Depending on the variety, the seedlings should be 1-3 inches tall. Simply take scissors and cut the stems just above the soil. Once the microgreens have all been harvested, begin a new crop using the same mix. Because the previous plants had been grown so quickly, the mix will still be full of nutrients- you’ll be able to sow 3-4 crops with each batch of growing medium. To ensure a continuous supply of microgreens, sow seeds every week or two.