Powerful nutrition: Growing your own microgreens

Powerful nutrition: Growing your own microgreens
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(NaturalHealth365) Microgreens aren’t just “cute.”  This plant-based nutrition, which looks like a cross between sprouts and baby lettuce, is packed with more nutrients per gram than the same weight of most of their “grown-up” counterparts.

And while bundles of microgreens can be a bit pricey at your local farmer’s market, they cost next to nothing to grow at home.  Now, you can get specialized equipment … but, you can also make do with a re-purposed container and a sunny window sill.

How to keep it simple with microgreens

You’ll get your best results if you use seeds that are specially designed to be grown as microgreens.  Consider growing different types, like beet, arugula, peas, kale, chard, radish and mustard, to maximize these plants’ diversity of vitamins, minerals and specific antioxidants.

Some suppliers offer a microgreens mix so that you can grow several types in one tray – but choose your seed source carefully!  Many treat the seeds with fungicides, to prevent plant disease from damp fields.  But, your container garden won’t require this – so organic seeds are really good to use.

Whether you choose a special microgreen growing kit or a couple of cheap pie tins, set up a simple two-part system, so that the container in which the microgreens are growing nests inside some sort of tray.

If you’re re-purposing food containers, use at least one clean, shallow type in which you can easily poke holes. (A takeout container that’s certified BPA-free, for example.)  Underneath that, place a tray, or the container’s lid.

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As for the growing medium, a bagged sterile seed-starting soil is best. Look for organic brands with either peat or coir.

Get to (micro) growing!

Put your soil into the shallow container to a depth of about 1 inch. Next, scatter the microgreens seed over the top of the soil, and press them firmly into the soil.

Mist the seeds with water, and cover the container with a clean dish towel or another light-blocking cover, with a gentle weight on top to press the seeds into the soil.  Some people prefer to use another layer of soil instead of cover, so it may take some experimenting to find which you prefer.

Then, it’s just a matter of misting the planters every day so that the soil is damp, but not sopping. They don’t need to be in the sun at this point, but they should be in a warm spot.

Depending on the seed type, you’ll start seeing the microgreens popping up within a few days. When that happens, remove your cover, if using, and set the container on a windowsill or another stable surface that receives some sun.

If they seem to be slanting toward the light source, rotate the trays to achieve even, healthy growth.  And, yes, continue misting them daily with clean water.

Reaping your harvest

You can usually start harvesting your microgreens within two to three weeks. When microgreens are only about 2 to 3 inches tall, they’re ready for eating. Use kitchen scissors to cut them off just above the soil line. Add them to your salads or other meals ASAP, and store the rest in the fridge.

Keep the harvest going! Your best bet for ensuring a continual supply of microgreens is to start a new tray every week or 10 days.

But some plants, including pea shoots, may regrow a few times after they’re sheared. To optimize the chance of regrowth, don’t cut the microgreens as close to the soil line, and try to leave a leaf behind when you harvest.

Sources used for this article include:

Organicconsumers.org
TheGuardian.com
UCANR.org
PSU.edu