Are you growing or planning to grow microgreens at your home? You will probably have many questions about growing them at home. Don’t worry; we have got you covered with this fantastic article.
Microgreens are high in nutrition and extremely flavorful. They can be a tad bit expensive to purchase, but it is cost-effective to grow microgreens with the right tools. You need to know your tools and how to use them. We cover this information in detail.
Microgreens are of several varieties and have a multitude of health benefits. Read this article to know about growing and harvesting microgreens. You will also find a guide on using them and the varieties of microgreens available to you as you read this article. You will come to know when to harvest the microgreens and how to store them and enhance your dishes. Don’t worry. If you have the zest of a farmer, you can do this!
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are essentially the toddlers in the plant world. They are grown in soil. Generally, a seed germinates after rinsing and soaking, and at this point is called sprouts. Microgreens are the next stage and require soil for their growth.
Microgreens are ready once the first two true leaves emerge from the cotyledons. Cotyledon is the embryonic leaf.
The tender baby greens are life-generating or biogenic. These plants have similar health benefits to sprouts but with additional nutritional content. This is because you can add minerals to the soil-raising mix and boost the flavor and nutrient level.
Microgreens are young seedlings harvested when they have tiny seed leaves and are smaller than salad leaves. These seedlings with small leaves generally grow up to 5 to 7 centimeters.
Before we dive into the benefits and growth of microgreens, we will guide you on the varieties of microgreens in this article.
Varieties Of Microgreens
You can grow microgreens from herb seeds, grains, and grasses. They are fun to grow. Your garden will look mesmerizing, and you can garnish your vegetables and food.
Microgreens taste bland, mild, spicy, or bitter. They taste like concentrated versions of the full-sized plants. The varieties of microgreens can be classified according to the family they belong to.
- Amaranthaceae family- these varieties include amaranth, spinach, beet, chard, and quinoa.
- Amaryllidaceae Family- This family consists of varieties of vegetables like garlic, chives, onions, and leeks.
- Apiaceae Family- The seedlings in this family include a variety of celery, carrot, dill, and fennel.
- Asteraceae Family- Salad crops like lettuce, chicory, endive, and radicchio are part of this family.
- Brassicaceae Family-This includes a variety of vegetables like broccoli, arugula, cabbage, red cabbage, radish, watercress, and cauliflower.
- Cucurbitaceae Family- Cucumbers, melons, and squashes are part of this family.
- Lamiaceae Family- These include flavorful herbs like basil, sage, rosemary, oregano, and mint.
- Poaceae Family-These includes varieties of grasses and cereals like oats, wheatgrass, rice, barley, and corn. Some legumes like lentils, beans, and chickpeas are also part of this family.
Depending on the variety of microgreens you want to grow, you need to procure the seeds and follow the instruction to the tee. Each of these microgreens has its benefits and provides you with unique health benefits.
Before we get into the seeds, growing, harvesting, and storing microgreens, let’s see the benefits of growing microgreens.
Benefits Of Growing Microgreens
Growing microgreens have a multitude of benefits, both for your health and for beautifying your garden. Let’s look into some of the major benefits of growing microgreens in your home garden.
- Quick to grow- These seedlings grow from seeds to herbs or vegetables quickly. It takes just 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the varieties you choose.
- It doesn’t take up much space at home- You can grow several plants in a tray or salad spinner.
- Minimal cost, time, and effort needed- When you grow microgreens on your own, it is cost-effective and takes less effort and time to grow.
- Perfect for urban home- Even if you don’t have a garden or a lot of time, you can grow microgreens. You can flaunt a green thumb without the hassle.
- Simple Requirements- These herbs need access to a good source of light, a tray/ shallow container, potting soil, and water.
- Acclimatized all climates- Microgreens are an excellent source of nutrients in any weather or climate. They can thrive and grow any time of the year.
- Indoor edible garden- You have all-time access to an indoor edible garden. You can grow these baby greens near a light source in your kitchen or balcony.
- Nutrient-rich food- These baby greens are rich in nutrient content. They contain Vitamin C, K, and E. They also have beta carotene, lutein, and other phytonutrients and minerals. The baby greens are packed with flavor, textures, enzymes, and other nutrients.
- No nutrient value loss- When you harvest this crop at the right time, you maximize the nutrient content. Evermore, if you consume it raw, your baby leaves are at their nutritional value peak.
- Variety of flavors and textures- Your greens are filled with varieties of flavor and incredible texture. They garnish your gourmet dishes beautifully and provide some amazing crunch and delicacy.
- Value for money- Varieties of these types of plants will make you give thanks to mother nature. Great source of nutrients, these microgreens are the way to get the best produce and several regrowths and harvests as an amateur gardener.
When you are looking to make changes in your life, you first look at your eating habits. This article will guide you on one of the healthiest plants that can make you amateur gardeners and improve your lifestyle. Read all the way to know about the best seeds and the process of growing microgreens.
Which Seeds Work The Best?
If you are a beginner gardener, you might consider starting with one type of seed. You can grow sunflower seeds, buckwheat seeds, broccoli, cabbage, or cauliflower. They are the easiest to grow at home as amateur gardeners.
You can also find seeds for salad mixes, herb mixes, and others. These mixes combine microgreen seeds of similar germination and growth rate. The sprouts that are compatible in flavor, textures, and colors are mixed.
Grow light microgreen seeds for faster growth and germination process. Some of the heavier seeds of these plants require rinsing and soaking. They become teeny tiny sprouts before they can become part of your crop project.
Note that some commercially produced seed of microgreens is not safe to consume. The seed hulls are treated with chemical fertilizers, fungicides, and pesticides. They do this to prevent mold or insects and animals from eating them while storing them. But they can be harmful to your system.
Try to purchase only certified organic or untreated seed. This will make your gardening project a better success and give you additional greens which are safe to consume. You can choose a certified and safe seed from the numerous varieties available.
How To Grow Microgreens?
Grow light microgreens quickly from your certified seeds. All you need to do this, read this article carefully and in detail, and you can be expert microgreens gardeners. They usually grow quickly with adequate light and care.
To grow your beautiful, light and, amazing microgreens, you need some vital tools to start with.
- Tray/shallow container
- Certified organic or untreated seeds of your greens
- Spray bottle for water
- Seaweed solution a soilless mix
- Seed raising mix and growing medium
- Paper towels
- Plant label or pen which you use mark the varieties and the date.
Instructions To Grow Your Microgreens
As amateur gardeners, you need to ensure you have all the tools at hand before starting any project. Read the article ahead for some steps to follow to grow your greens.
Step 1: Prepare Your Seeds
Firstly, you need to prepare your certified organic or untreated seeds. If your seeds are large and heavy, you need to rinse them and soak them. You pre-soak till they become sprouts in warm water overnight. Your sprouts will then be ready for the next stage in the growing process.
If you grow light microgreen seeds, you needn’t bother with this step. You can make your way into the preparation of the container/tray directly.
Step 2: Prepare your Container/Tray
If you are using a tray to grow your microgreens, ensure you place some moistened paper towels on the bottom. This will prevent your soil mix from falling through. Ensure you fill your container about 3/4 full with the growing medium.
Your container/tray should have at least 1 inch deep of growing medium to speed up the growth rates of your microgreens.
Step 3: Prepare Your Seeding Mix
Next is preparing your seeding mix, which will fill your tray/container. A homemade seed-raising mix is recommended. This is because you will be in control of the ingredients, and it will contain vital elements that boost your greens seed germination rate.
Once the seed sprouts, the homemade seed raising mix provides additional nutrition to your crop. It makes your microgreens healthy, and the leaves will be rich in color, minerals, and vitamins.
Set your potting mix or potting soil in your tray/container in such a way that it feels like a moist sponge. Make sure you spread it evenly so that the soil line is flat and even.
Step 4: Sow Your Microgreens Seeds
Once your potting mix is ready, your greens seeds are ready to be sowed. To sow your salad greens seeds, sprinkle them over evenly over the growing medium and press lightly. Make sure you don’t over-compress; otherwise, the seed sprouts will get damaged.
If you are using the small and light seeds, you can spread 1/5 inch of compost over the microgreens seeds. This to ensure they have an even soil level over them.
Step 5: Maintain Your Crop
All varieties of greens need regular maintenance to enhance their growth and growth rates. Follow these crucial steps to maintain your microgreens seeds.
- Lightly water on the soil line by misting with a spray bottle. This prevents the seeds from dislodging from the soil.
- While you wait for the sprouts to appear, keep misting them regularly
- Keep a drainage tray to drain any excess water from the soil
- Water your microgreens seeds and the soil regularly to ensure it goes through its growth stages
- Keep checking the soil moisture and ensure your seeds never dry out.
- Do not overwater your seeds, or they will drown in the soil
- Your microgreens seeds need a warm and humid environment to grow. So, cover your container/tray with a plastic lid or plastic sheet with small holes to let air in
- Once the microgreens have sprouted, remove the lid and mist once or twice a day
Use a soilless mix like seaweed solution to enrich the nutrition of your microgreens. They can be a high source of vitamins and minerals and will set your life. Read this article ahead to know when and how to harvest your microgreens.
When To Harvest Microgreens?
Additionally, here are a few more tips to help you understand the harvesting process for your microgreens and the seed to harvest.
Tip 1- Washing Your Microgreens Is Not Always Necessary
If you’re growing microgreens in a small jar/container, you should expect a fast but very effective harvest. Place your container over a bowl to gather your microgreens, and rotate the container to snip the stems when it’s time to harvest.
If your microgreen harvest has been watered from the bottom, you don’t need to wash it, so it should be free of dirt. However, if you find dirt on the roots, you should clean them with water to remove any remaining dirt.
Tip 2- Refrigeration Is Key
If you’re growing microgreens in your very own recycled containers, you should keep them refrigerated until your microgreens are ready to be harvested. When it’s time to snip your microgreens, keep your microgreen container in the refrigerator to maximize its shelf life.
However, there is a possibility that the cold air will dry out the microgreens. Hence, it is best recommended to keep your container sealed in a plastic bag.
In order to make your microgreen last for one extra week in the fridge, you can leave the plastic bag open. Make sure to always bottom water your microgreens whenever the soil feels dry.
Tip 3- Don’t Harvest Them All At One Go
You can snip your chosen crops by rows or patches if you aren’t prepared to eat your entire harvest. However, if you do this, make sure to leave enough room for your leftover microgreens to lean as they mature. This is a more common technique for tray gardening since it produces greater pulls.
Tip 4- Never Directly Pull Out Your Microgreen From The Soil
It is crucial to remember and practice not taking your microgreens straight from the soil in your container. This will disrupt the plant’s roots which will, in turn, affect your crop. That is why it’s best to cut the stems with your sharpest knife or scissors when it is ready to harvest.
When Is The Best Time To Harvest?
Microgreens are ready to harvest at any point, including their three growth stages: sprout, microgreen, and baby green. You can harvest them based on what your purpose is.
Sprouts are very young, typically just a few days old. Sprouts grow in a wet, high-moisture climate and normally germinate without the use of soil. They are normally gathered whole, rather than just the small foliage or tubers, to be consumed.
Sprouts are a high source of protein and high in nutrition and enzymes. They’re better to digest than the later microgreen varieties. Some people may choose to harvest these microgreens at the sprout age for these purposes.
These are a somewhat older variant of sprouts grown in soil or a soil-free environment. When they have formed their first sets of leaflets, they are commonly referred to as “microgreens.” They are usually 10-14 days old, but slower-growing varieties may be up to a month old. They thrive in soil-less media or water alone.
These greens are usually obtained by clipping the small foliage from the roots, but you consume all parts of the plant. These were found to have about 40 times the nutritional value of the more mature salad greens and a much better taste.
Baby Green Stage
Baby greens are microgreens that are normally cultivated and set near one another. They have more foliage than microgreens and are picked until they reach maturity or have wholly evolved into a vine.
They are at least 14 days old, but they may thrive up to 40 days old. In soil or soilless combination, baby greens grow.
Baby greens are often harvested for their true leaves and roots, which are then consumed. In contrast to their other stages, the crops here are much more nutritional. They are very tender and have a different taste and texture than mature varieties, which some culinary aficionados favor.
How To Store Microgreens?
The best way to store your microgreens is to set them in an airtight box and refrigerate them. If you do not put the harvest in a cool environment, the temperature-sensitive seed flats might end up getting damaged. With proper cool and dry storage, your harvest should stay fresh for at least seven to ten days.
Storage In The Sprout Stage
Refrigerate the sprouts until they’ve been dehulled and cleaned of water. If they’re well-drained—especially if they’re dry—and stored in a container that can breathe, they’ll last longer. Any other containers or Ziploc bag will not hold sprouts fresh; they will get slimy very quickly.
To prolong the life of sprouts, remove and rinse them every few days, then drain well before re-storing them; this will prevent them from drying out too easily. If some of the sprouts start to mold, they should be discarded right away.
Storage In The Microgreen Stage
These are difficult to store since they do not hold up well after a certain period, especially in refrigerated conditions. So it is always advised that they be rinsed and used right away after harvesting. There is, however, a way for you to keep micros fresh for at least a few days.
Your micros must be cleaned before being placed in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. They will last up to six days using this technique. Hold them in a bottle with air holes for improved storing performance.
Alternatively, place the unwashed micro in a Ziploc bag after gently wrapping them in a wet paper towel. They can ideally be stored in the refrigerator’s freezer section. This method would keep your tiny greens fresh for around five to seven days.
Storage In The Baby Green Stage
- Cut or tear the foliage as needed after rinsing freshly picked microgreens. The smaller ones can be frozen whole.
- Greens can be blanched in small batches, around four cups of packed greens per gallon of hot water. When the water returns to a boil, then blanching time begins; the normally recommended blanching time is two minutes, but this varies depending on the baby green variety. (Note: This is a crucial move! If the baby greens are not blanched correctly, they can easily lose their flavors while in storage.)
- After blanching, cool your plants for the same period in a big bowl of ice water.
They can also be frozen for eight to twelve months in this manner. To keep track of when the plants expire, note the date you put them in storage.
If you consume them eaten within a week, another option is to store them in the refrigerator in breathable containers. However, one is most likely to get the most nutritious value if consumed right away.
How To Use Microgreens?
Microgreens, tasty little treats that they are. They have proven to be very flexible and can be used in a variety of ways. There are no right/wrong methods to cooking and/or eating microgreens, but there are a few easy recipes that highlight the goodness of microgreens.
Almost any dish will benefit from a garnish of microgreens. Use them on burgers, tacos, pizza, soups, and anywhere else you’d put lettuce or sprouts. You can stir fry them for an added crunch.
Use them as a decorative garnish or ingredient on almost every dish, including meat and seafood. Microgreens are usually meant to be eaten raw and fresh.
A lot of people aren’t sure how to use microgreens. Sandwiches may be addicting and filling. Microgreens have a bright taste and freshness that balances out earthier flavors while also adding nutritious benefits. Using cut microgreens on sandwiches can also be beneficial since it adds depth and crunch.
To take your sandwich to the next stage, change the variety of microgreens depending on the sandwich’s ingredients.
Salads made from microgreens are delicious and nutritious. Since various microgreens varieties have such diverse flavor combinations, they are combined to create salads with a sweet and spicy flavor profile. It can reach to surprise the taste buds with an explosion of flavors, depending on your preferences.
Microgreens are also a great complement to a traditional salad of leafy greens. Spicy microgreens like red ruby streak mustard provide a punch of heat and protein to salads.
If you want to live a healthier, happier lifestyle, have a power-packed snack made of microgreens. You can carry and use them in nutritious shakes every morning or during the day. Compared to mature plants, certain microgreens varieties have been shown to have up to 40 times the nutritional value.
Wraps, Sushi, Stir-fries, Soups, and meat dishes all feature microgreens. Microgreens are flavorful and flexible and can be used in a variety of dishes. Yes, they make vibrant and scrumptious garnishes, but they so much more than that.
When cooking or developing microgreens, you should be intrigued and imaginative. Keep in mind that microgreens are a way of life – a positive journey.
As amateur gardeners, you sure have some questions regarding growing microgreens. We hope to have answered your questions in this article.
Microgreens are yummy leaves used to garnish your food. They enhance the flavor of your food and provide a multitude of benefits to your health and lifestyle. The shelf life of microgreens might be less, but they are cost-effective and take minimal effort and time to grow.
Your greens are ready to harvest and consume in 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the variety of microgreens you choose. You cut microgreens when their leaves sprout and consume them when fresh. Note that the flavor of microgreens changes every day, so it takes trial and error to get the right taste and flavor.
So, what are you waiting for? Read the article and get on with growing your microgreens.
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.