Many people today are looking for ways to generate extra income or simply provide their families with healthy foods. Growing microgreens and sprouts are ways to accomplish either of those goals, but it’s important to first understand the differences between microgreens and sprouts and why those differences are important.
Microgreens or Sprouts?
Most people tend to believe microgreens and sprouts are interchangeable, but they’re not. There are distinct differences between the two and how they’re grown. Once a person understands the definition of each, it’s easier to decide on and plan your own growing adventure.
- Sprouts germinate in water rather than soil. They can easily be grown using jars or similar containers but require quite a bit of care during the growing process. As a rule, sprouts must be rinsed at least twice per day to achieve quality results. Both the seed and the plant are consumed.
- Microgreens, on the other hand, are grown in soil, and only the stems and leaves are consumed. Microgreen enthusiasts suggest there is greater nutritional value provided by microgreens because the plants can absorb elements from the soil as they grow.
Since both microgreens and sprouts provide benefits, it’s important to review other aspects of the two before deciding the microgreens vs. sprouts argument.
Anyone thinking about growing sprouts or becoming a microgreens farmer should carefully explore the opportunities for each. Even though there are some similarities, the differences must be carefully explored when making any decisions.
- Both microgreens and sprouts can be grown in small spaces. In many cases, space is a major issue for would-be growers. That means people living in cities and having little space available can successfully grow either; as even a corner of a basement can serve as a growing spot.
- Light is an issue. Sprouts don’t require a light source to grow, which may be a consideration for some people. On the other hand, growing microgreens does require a light source because they require the growth of leaves. For the best results, specific types of lights may be needed to obtain optimal results. Microgreens farmers often try various lighting options to maximize the growth and quality of specific plant varieties.
- Soil or water? As noted, sprouts require water rather than soil and must be rinsed at least a couple of times per day. Microgreen seeds require a growing medium that can be actual soil or a soil substitute. Growers frequently argue the benefits of different growing mediums for microgreens, and it may pay to explore the various options available.
- Ventilation is also an issue that needs to be evaluated by potential farmers of microgreens. Sprouts do not require much ventilation, but microgreens do. In most cases, providing adequate ventilation shouldn’t be a major problem, but those living in areas experiencing temperature extremes may need to be inventive to obtain proper ventilation without increasing heating or cooling costs.
Anyone considering growing either microgreens or sprouts would be wise to seek expert advice to minimize the potential for problems related to different growing environments.
Growers generally become a microgreens farmer or raise sprouts to provide their families with nutritious food that’s also tasty. However, anyone growing microgreens or sprouts should be aware of a couple of things.
As a rule, consuming microgreens does not involve any significant health risks. As long as the microgreens are properly grown and rinsed to remove any surface contaminants before being used, there should be no real health concern.
Sprouts, though, require a little additional care before they’re consumed. Because sprouts must be grown in very humid conditions, the potential for unwanted bacteria must be considered. Before sprouts are eaten it’s important to thoroughly rinse them first. Proper rinsing should eliminate typical risks from naturally occurring bacteria, but extra care should be taken to minimize the potential for bacteria development during the growing and harvesting processes.
Recent health issues related to romaine lettuce illustrate that proper hygiene is always important. That means growers and anyone handling either microgreens or sprouts should carefully wash their hands before handling the produce.
Taking Growing to the Next Level
A large percentage of people may only be thinking growing microgreens or sprouts for their own use, but others are looking for ways to generate income from their efforts. While a microgreens farmer may not get rich, it’s certainly possible to turn a healthy hobby into a viable small business.
If you’re currently looking for a way to earn extra money on the side or turn a part-time business into a true occupation, microgreen farming is one way to accomplish that objective. But it’ll take more than acquiring a few microgreen seeds and flats of soil. That’s why it pays to evaluate the need for microgreens and sprouts in an area and determine what level of need exists.
Because there are several ways to market microgreens and sprouts, it will pay to develop a growing and marketing plan that leads to profits rather than simply breaking even or even losing money. The experts at Microgreens Farmer are always ready to provide training and advice designed to help would-be microgreens farmers to that next level of productivity.
Discover Local Markets
In many areas, farmers’ markets provide excellent ways to market microgreens or sprouts. However, not every area has year-round farmers’ markets. To generate a regular income, that means someone who grows microgreens will need to find other ways to market their produce. If you’re truly focused on marketing products throughout the year, now is the time to explore all the possible buyers in your area.
Grocery stores are one potential outlet for microgreens or sprouts. Because both microgreens and sprouts have short shelf lives, many grocery stores prefer to buy directly from local growers to eliminate the shipping time required when the products are sourced nationally. The first step would be to approach local store produce managers to determine their buying policies. Food co-ops also provide excellent markets for fresh, high-quality microgreens or sprouts.
Local restaurants may also purchase locally grown microgreens and sprouts both to support other local entrepreneurs and ensure their customers enjoy the freshest microgreens and sprouts available.
Bring samples of your microgreens or sprouts to show potential buyers what they can expect to get if they buy from you. Of course, it will always be important to deliver on your promises and consistently provide high-quality products if you expect to keep local grocers or restaurants buying from you in the future.
What Products Should Be Grown?
That’s not always an easy question to answer as local preferences will differ from one area to another. That’s why doing market research before starting to grow microgreens is always recommended. Some of the most popular microgreens are mung beans, alfalfa, adzuki beans, peas and sunflowers. Of course, if there is a strong local demand for other varieties, that’s what should be grown.
If the local market demands sprouts, consider broccoli, lettuce, basil, chives, kale, and peas. Again, local preferences may be for other types of sprouts, so don’t be afraid to explore other options if there is a local demand.
As with growing any other types of plants, specific types of microgreens or sprouts may require special treatment to achieve the best end results. Courses offered by Microgreens Farmer to help microgreens farmers get a good start will provide guidelines outlining potential issues with growing greens and discuss possible ways to overcome the issues.
Getting Started Doesn’t Have to be Expensive
One of the issues that always concerns potential growers is startup expenses. In most cases, it’s relatively easy to start a small-scale growing operation without requiring a huge investment. You don’t need tractors or other implements to start growing microgreens, but you will need to provide a hospitable environment for your microgreens or sprouts.
Once you’ve developed a reputation as a reliable supplier, it might pay to invest in more equipment that will allow your business to expand. Experts at Microgreens Farmer encourage all potential growers to set appropriate budgets during any growth process. Again, take the time to get advice from experts and learn from their experience. It’ll save money, time, and aggravation.
In any venture, there are likely to be problems that must be overcome. At times, those issues can be somewhat costly. That’s why it’s important to start small and grow as you learn the ins and outs of microgreens farming.
It’s important to maintain a positive attitude and take whatever steps are needed to get beyond a problem. Focus on your long-term objectives and, when necessary, be willing to change them.
Don’t Be Afraid to Take That First Step
If growing microgreens is your goal, now is the time to get started. Before spending money, take the time to learn more about microgreen farming from the experts at Microgreens Farmer and what it means to be a microgreens farmer. Contact us now, and don’t be afraid to plant those first seeds.