Growing microgreens has been gaining utmost popularity over time. There are various types of microgreens that you can grow in your backyard or inside your home in a jar or a box.
Microgreens are baby plants of vegetable greens. Placed between sprouts and baby greens they are about 1-3 inches tall, with an aromatic flavor and concentrated nutrients. These baby greens come in various colors and textures. Onion microgreens are one of these baby plants.
Growing onion microgreens is another way of enjoying the savory onion flavor in their added dishes at home and outside. Often people who cook complain of tears while chopping onions. Well, worry no more; you’ll face no such problem while chopping their green counterparts!
Let’s get to know more about onion microgreens.
What Are Onion Microgreens?
Onion microgreens are extremely easy-to-grow greens and take minimum time to grow till their full length. Within weeks, you’ll have straight green stems of the crop, ready to be chopped on your kitchen countertop.
Onion belongs to the family of Allium Cepa. These are widely used vegetables and an essential part of different cuisines. However, its history has many roots opening up different opinions. So it is universally agreed that these humble vegetable has been an integral part of foods since 5000 years ago.
Belonging to the Allium family, onion stands tall among garlic, shallots, leeks, and chives. Onions are of different colors and varieties. You have spring onion, red burgundy onion, sweet onion, all with different flavors. The common colors of onions are red, yellow, and white onions.
The best thing about sprouting onions is that they can either be eaten raw for their fresh flavor or stir fried, grilled, baked, boiled, braised, and sautéed. Onion microgreens do not produce syn-propanethial-S-oxide, so you won’t face the problem of crying while you chop these greens.
Microgreen seeds grow long into stem-like greens with onion flavor. Soft and crunchy, the stems have a versatile texture. Onions in their microgreen form can be used in different types of dishes.
Benefits And Nutritional Value Of Sprouted Onions
The benefits of growing these microgreens at home are multitudinal. Onion sprouts are store-houses of valuable nutrients which are essentially needed by the human body. These micro greens contain high contents of Vitamins A, B, C, and E.
Onion sprouts carry sufficient levels of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Niacin, Phosphorus, Zinc, and Potassium in terms of mineral content. They are also great contributors of chlorophyll, amino acids, enzymes, and fiber, along with other trace elements, as well as protein content of 20%.
You can consume regular onion, which is relatively low on nutrients than their sprouts. However, they are the same in terms of flavor and creates a balanced meal with sufficient nutrient content. Onion sprouts can be taken as some sporadical treat.
You’ve already learned some of their health benefits, which means they carry great nutritional value with high content of Vitamins A, B, C, and E. Besides, the onion sprouts also contain 44 calories, 13g carbs, 216mg potassium, 15mg magnesium, 2.5g fiber. 6g sugar, 11mg Vitamin C, 0.178 Vitamin B6.
Apart from Vitamins A, B, C, and E, the microgreens also contain Calcium, Zinc, and Phosphorus.
Materials Required For Growing Onion Microgreens
Growing microgreens requires the availability or the preparation of a few things. You will get these equipments in the local stores or any plant store, along with the onion seeds you’ll buy to plant in the soil.
The first thing to get into your shopping cart to grow these seeds is a growth medium to contain the soil in which you’ll plant the seeds of the micro greens. The growth medium can be microgreen trays. Depending on the bulk of seeds you’re going to plant.
Growing micro green seeds at home requires exposure to sunlight. However, sometimes that might become hard for some who live in an apartment. For them, another convenient option is to get grow lights so that you can give enough exposure to your microgreen plants to light.
Another important equipment is the soil and a soil sifter to ensure that the soil you use to plants the seeds are pure organic matter. The soil that you select to grow the seeds in has to be pure organic matter that nurtures the growth of your seeds.
The most important of the materials here is to select quality onion seeds. Conduct your research to know the different regular seeds, other microgreen seeds, and onion seeds. Good quality onion seeds will produce the best results.
Growing Onion Microgreens
The bulk of onion sprouts that you plan to grow depends on how much you will consume in a period. You can grow a lot of seeds together in a microgreen tray accordingly. Let’s learn the steps of growing sprout onions.
Step 1: Prepare The Soil
The first step is to prepare the soil you’ll use to plant the seeds. Many believe that growing sprouted onions or other microgreens requires some special kind of soil. But your old garden soil with a little content of compost would do just fine for growing microgreens.
You can also opt for potting soil from the market. Although, whatever soil you use, it would be best to refine the soil off of any debris or particles away from the planting soil. Use a sifter to sift the soil before planting an onion seed.
Step 2: Fill The Microgreen Tray With The Sifted Soil
The next step would be to fill; the microgreen tray with the sifted soil below the brim. While you do that, make sure the tray has drainage holes beneath it.
Some go for commercially bought microgreen trays, but any good container would work just fine. A mason jar, box, or any other container which is neither too shallow nor deep would serve the purpose of a tray completely fine.
To grow onion or any other sprout, containers that you may have used earlier at home for other purposes are also flexible to use. Onions do not that much of an area. Therefore, you can grow them inside your home conveniently in a microgreen tray.
Step 3: Mist the Soil and Plant The Onion Microgreens in Watered Soil in The Tray
Once you have successfully placed the soil in the microgreen tray, it’s time you moist the soil with ample water. Use a water spray bottle or a plant mister to moist the soil enough. You will know the soil is moist enough when you see water seeping out through the drainage holes of the tray.
This spraying of water is important as this would be the only time the soil will be in contact with water until the process of germination.
Once you moist the soil enough, you can now plant the onion seeds on the soil surface. Make sure to spread them uniformly with an onion seed in every corner of the soil in the tray. These are microgreens that you’re growing in the tray. So, it is important that you grow them densely.
Watering the soil before adding the seeds is important, so you don’t end up disturbing the planted seeds. Now, push the seeds on top into the wet soil gently. You need not spread any dirt above the scattered seeds. Pressing them gently into the wet soil will bring them to enough contact with the soil to stimulate germination.
Step 4: Cover The Tray for Germination
Germination is the next process. It is also the peak process to take care of so that the seeds go through a smooth sprouting process. Cover the tray with a foil paper or something heavy like a cardboard piece or a board to accelerate the process of germination.
Once covered, keep the tray in a cool, dark place for about 3 days. You can check the seeds for signs of germinating after 3 days.
Step 5: Expose the Seeds To Light
Once the germination period is over, covering almost 90% of the tray with germinated seeds, move the tray to a place where there’s ample access to light and free flowing air.
You can put the tray beneath fluorescent lamps or other artificial lights. You get several grow lights in the stores. Perhaps you could get one of them. Ensure that under no conditions are the seeds exposed to direct sunlight. This would harm the growth of the microgreens.
Soft light exposure stimulates the growth of the microgreens in an upward trajectory which is also aesthetically pleasing and enhances the flavor of the microgreens as well.
Water the microgreens once you’ve shifted them to a location with soft light. Make sure that you do not water log the seeds. Microgreens are prone to molds. Molds develop when the stems and leaves of the microgreens are water logged and soggy.
To avoid the growth of molds, take a water-filled container and place the microgreen tray on top of it. This way, water seeps into the soil through the drainage holes beneath the tray. Your seeds get the sufficient levels of water, and the soil remains moist. Watering the onion microgreens until harvest is essential.
Step 6: Harvest And Store Your Onion Microgreens
The harvest period takes a relatively long time for the onion microgreens to develop. However, the flavor they develop will be all worth the wait. Usually, onion microgreens take about 10-12 days until harvest to grow.
The flavor these microgreens add to your salads and other spices is simply amazing! Now, to know if the onion sprouts are ready for harvest, observe their stature in the tray. When you notice the microgreens falling over, this is when it’s time for their harvest.
Get a pair of scissors and chop off the stems just above the soil without uprooting the microgreens. Onion microgreens are eligible for harvest more than once. If you uproot them, you’ll be depriving yourself of their multiple harvests.
After cutting off the stems, fill the tray for further harvests. Bear in your mind, the successive harvest after the first one is generally lower.
Before adding these freshly cut microgreens to your dish, make sure to chop off the ends as they’ll still have the seed hulls attached to them.
If you plan to consume the greens later, store them in the refrigerator in a tightly secured container or zip bag. However, the microgreens are best when consumed freshly right after the harvest.
Onion microgreens are extremely easy to grow and are great to begin with for growing microgreens at home. Besides, they have high nutritional value and health benefits.
They compliment your sandwich, salad, spices, meat, and more food items with their flavor. You can even sprinkle the greens in your soups and stews, pasta, or eggs, and enjoy the savory dish!
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.