From farm to table, to five-star restaurants, to upscale burger joints, microgreens are all the rage. They have also become popular because they can be grown and harvested within a matter of a few weeks.
On a simpler note, microgreens are really just the first stage of any vegetable growth. The tiny seedlings are only harvested from the base of the stem, leaving the seed and roots.
If you are going to grow your own microgreens, it is best to have a designated area inside your house with natural light, like a windowsill garden. Since microgreens are harvested at a tender age, just after sprouting, they don’t need much area in which to grow.
Some people find that a shallow tray filled with seed starting mix and seeds is all they need to grow their microgreens. If your preference is more of an organized approach, you could try lining a tray with several three inch peat pots.
Using a tray to organize the pots, looks nice and provides a catch all for the drainage, allowing you to water from the base of the pots. The tray should then be set on a heating pad or a heat mat, which will encourage germination.
The peat pots should be filled with a seed starting mix, seeds, and topped with vermiculite. Finally, the pots should be watered and covered with clear plastic wrap to trap the heat and control the temperature.
One of the secrets to growing strong microgreens is to have a blackout phase where the sprouts are misted only with water but left in the dark with no sunlight whatsoever. This should happen right after the seeds sprout and should continue for three to four days. The reason for doing this is to cause the plants to grow stronger.
Inspect your greens daily for anything odd, including fungus. Misting the trays several times a day and making sure that the greens have ample air circulation are two musts. After growing for two or three weeks, they are prime for trimming at the base of the plant to eat.
Without good air circulation, your microgreens are more susceptible to fungus. A lot of the fungus problems with microgreens can be solved by starting with clean, sterile trays. Without enough water, the sprouts will dry out and rarely recover, so make sure to stay on a daily misting schedule.
Microgreens usually take from two to four days to sprout. If you are still waiting after day five, you may have a problem. Sometimes microgreens turn out to be yellow, instead of the deep purple and green tones they typically have. This is usually because your light source is not quite strong enough to produce the photosynthesis reaction.
Health Benefits of Growing Your Own Microgreens
The typical micro plant gives several times the nutrition of their mature parent plant. It was found that red cabbage microgreens, for instance held forty times the amount of vitamin E than its mature counterpart. Of course, forty times the nutrition is not across the board when it comes to every nutrient in these tiny vegetables, but even a scant increase is pretty amazing given their size.