You can inexpensively reap the health and nutritional benefits of eating fresh microgreens by growing them from the comfort of your home. All that is required is a bright spot on the kitchen counter near a window or perhaps a sunny corner in an unused bedroom. Soil, seeds, water and light are the primary ingredients needed to grow your microgreens. Direct sunlight is not required.
Growing microgreens is a fun project for adults and children. Not only that, many people who first grew microgreens as an interesting home project find themselves flush with a booming business a few years later. Whether you end up as a professional grower or grow enough microgreens to supply yourself and your family, your friends and your neighbors with their colorful and delicious nutrition, you’re sure to benefit from the experience in multiple ways.
What Are Microgreens?
Many people use terms, sprouts, microgreens and baby greens interchangeably, but technically they are not the same, even though they may spring from the same variety of seed. Generally, the difference between them has to do with their stage of growth at the time of their harvest. Sprouts and microgreens are also grown differently. Sprouts are cultivated in water. Microgreens typically grow in either soil or a peat-based or artificial growing medium. Sprouts are harvested within days of their germination, once their first set of embryonic leaves, called cotyledons, emerge. This process usually takes place in less than a week.
In contrast, it takes some varieties of microgreens as long as three weeks to grow to a harvestable height, which is around the same time their first true leaves emerge. Professionals in the business of selling the various stages of green growth must differentiate between the types when labeling. The entire plant — seed, stem and cotyledons — of sprouts are edible, whereas the microgreens farmer discards the lower stem and roots of the crop, harvesting only the upper portion. The same is true of baby greens. All stages of immature green growth are more nutrient-dense than their mature counterparts.
Microgreens Provide Concentrated Nutrition
The health benefits associated with eating a variety of fruits and vegetables are widely known. Diseases such as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension and cancer are often preventable and treatable with dietary changes that embrace fresh vegetables. It seems strange, therefore, that so many people fail to embrace a more plant-dense diet. Perhaps this is because many people find little flavor in mature and tasteless vegetables that were harvested early and then transported to various countries around the world. It is boon to such individuals to discover they can gain greater benefits while consuming less and enjoying greater flavor than they’ve previously experienced. This is because the concentration of desirable nutrients is much greater in the immature stages of a plant’s life. Many people today consider microgreens to be a type of superfood.
Microgreens are an excellent source of high-quality protein, necessary enzymes and other essential nutrients. They’re easy to digest because they’re young and tender. The exact nutritional content of various microgreens varies according to variety, which is one reason why microgreen seeds often sell in a colorful rainbow mix. Mixing microgreens not only looks pretty, but it allows those who consume them to experience their individual benefits collectively. Another benefit of consuming immature greens is their intensified flavor profile.
Other Benefits of Microgreens
The primary reason to grow microgreens at home is that they taste good and they’re good for you. Grow them for the convenience of having them readily available, and for the peace of mind you feel in knowing for certain they were grown using best practices. If the government suddenly announces a nationwide recall of microgreens, as occurred recently with Romaine lettuce, you’ll not be affected. Grow them for their exceptional beauty, for their intense flavor and for their rich nutritional profile. Grow them to bless your friends and neighbors when you have a surplus. Grow them for the money you’ll save over the cost of purchasing them commercially. If you enjoy being a microgreens farmer enough, consider growing them as a money-making endeavor.
Growing your own microgreens is the most economical and dependable way to ensure you have a steady supply for your table of the flavors, characteristics and nutrient profiles you prefer. Also, it is the easiest way to insure that they’re grown using safe practices, are correctly harvested and properly stored, and consumed at the height of freshness. No plant that must withstand thousands of miles of shipping before it reaches the supermarket where it then waits to be purchased will taste as good as when you consume it when only minutes have passed between the harvest and the meal.
What Kind of Seeds Are Suitable for Growing Microgreens?
There are a wide variety of microgreen seeds. Most people who grow microgreens at home determine through trial and effort and personal preference which varieties to grow. Some plants suitable for microgreens, such as pea plants, produce a relatively small number of large seeds, while others produce a greater number of much smaller seeds. Bulk seeds sell by the pound, and the cost of seed is a factor for many when choosing seed varieties for growing microgreens at home.
Still others choose their microgreen seeds solely on their colorful appearance, beguiling flavors or even intended use. Some microgreens farmers, primarily those interested in microgreen seeds for their nutritional profile, choose seeds such as red cabbage, which has up to 40 times the vitamin E of cabbage plants, and cilantro, whose microgreens yield three times the beta-carotene of its adult counterpart. In all, there are more than 60 vegetables and herbs whose seed is suitable for microgreens at home. Most people grow their favorites year after year and try out new seed varieties on a regular basis.
More About Microgreen Seeds
Seeds are life wrapped up in a tiny package, just waiting to be awakened by the kiss of water in an environment where they will thrive. Microgreen seeds come with everything they require for their protection and nourishment up to and through the germination process. Every seed is a plant embryo encased in a protective outer coating. In addition to the embryonic plant, the seed contains an endosperm, which serves as the growing plant’s food during its initial stage of development. Seed endosperm is primarily starchy, and if you’ve ever eaten a piece of popcorn, you’ve tasted the endosperm of the corn plant. Rice is also an endosperm. By some estimates, nearly two thirds of all human food come from the endosperm of seeds.
Even More Seed Considerations
When you set out to grow microgreens, the last thing you want to do is to purchase numerous small packages at the big-box store to plant your flats because this method is cost prohibitive. Purchase microgreen seeds online by the pound. Prices fluctuate wildly from producer to producer, and not all producers sell in bulk. In recent years, research has determined that many modern vegetable hybrids, bred more for appearance and shelf-life than flavor or nutritional content, actually contain less nutrition than their heirloom variety counterparts. Always make sure you purchase non-GMO seeds. If in doubt, ask. Just because the name of the company hasn’t changed does not mean it wasn’t sold to a GMO manufacturing subsidiary. The policies and ethics a seed company practiced last year might not be the same today.
How to Grow Microgreens at Home
Professional growers often have elaborate setups designed to maximize productivity and minimize labor, but growing microgreens at home doesn’t need to be complicated. Learn a basic setup and then modify it according to your needs and desires. There are endless tips and tricks, modifications and exceptions that people employ when adapting to their circumstances. Experts at Microgreens Farmer are available to offer guidance. Help is also available online in various forums and on sites such as YouTube. However, all that’s needed to get started are the basics.
- First, you’ll need a plastic tray that’s 2 to 3 inches deep with drainage holes on the bottom. Fill it to a level of 2 inches with a lightweight, arable potting medium intended for starting seeds. Alternately, you might consider using one of the various mats available for microgreens growers from cocoa and hemp fibers. Tamp down the soil’s surface evenly across the tray and water it thoroughly. Then, heavily cover the surface of the soil with your desired seed – the seeds should touch one another — and sift a fine amount of soft soil over the top. Tamp once more, and cover with a second, inverted tray. Let them sit, covered and undisturbed but for watering, until they begin to sprout.
- Water daily, preferably from the bottom. When your seeds have sprouted, remove the covering tray and place the flat in a bright room but not in direct sunlight. They will thrive in a warm, bright, slightly humid environment. Then, as they start to mature, the baby microgreens will support one another in their upward growth. Growth that is too thin will inevitably be weak growth, unthrifty, and prone to being knocked down by a breeze or spray of water.
- Once the plants have achieved their first set of true leaves and are at the appropriate height for the seed you planted, (usually 1 to 3 inches but occasionally taller), they are ready to be harvested. Use a quality chef’s knife honed to a razor’s edge or a utility knife outfitted with a new blade. Gently grab a handful of the microgreens tops with one hand while cutting low on their stems with the other. Rinse and spin dry and your homegrown microgreens are ready for eating or packaging.
Microgreens as a Source of Supplemental Income
Although you may only wish to grow microgreens for personal consumption, there is no denying that interest in microgreens farming as a business is growing. More people every day Google how to start a microgreen business as their once-casual interest broadens. Growing microgreens has the potential to be profitable, especially in a diversified small-scale farming endeavor. Microgreen seeds that seemed expensive when first purchased become downright affordable when one considers that harvested microgreens in many parts of the country can sell for as much as $50 a pound! Furthermore, microgreens can be grown without specialized equipment year-round from the comfort of your home, providing not only nutrition that is as fresh as possible, but also a steady income.
t’s safe to say that microgreens are such a valuable addition to a person’s diet that nearly everyone should be eating them. We live in a world today where people die from diseases that might be slowed, halted, and even reversed by people becoming willing to make life-sustaining, healthful, dietary changes. A diet high in plant material is the answer for many. Experts advise starting with small changes at first. What better way to start small than with these tiny, powerhouse microgreens? Don’t you want to feel better? If microgreens aren’t a part of your diet on a regular basis, folks, they need to be, now. Let your baby steps today begin with baby vegetables
Contact Microgreens Farmer now to see how you can get started.