What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are a type of immature plants that are harvested and eaten when they are just 1-3 inches tall. They are typically grown from seeds, such as those from radishes, beets, kale, arugula, and more. Microgreens offer a variety of flavors and textures to dishes and have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their convenience and health benefits.
Benefits of Growing Microgreens at Home
Growing microgreens at home can provide numerous benefits, including cost savings, increased nutrition, and convenience. Microgreens are a nutrient-dense food that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are incredibly versatile and can be added to salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and more for an extra nutritional boost. Growing them at home is also incredibly easy and requires minimal space and equipment.
Materials Needed for Growing Microgreens at Home
Growing microgreens at home requires a few essential materials to ensure successful cultivation. Here's a list of the materials you'll need:
Microgreen Seeds/seed sprouts: Select a variety of microgreen seeds based on your preferences and nutritional goals. Popular choices include broccoli, kale, radish, sunflower, and cilantro. Make sure to choose seeds labeled specifically for microgreen production.
Containers or Trays: Use shallow containers or trays with drainage holes to plant your microgreens. Plastic trays, seedling trays, or repurposed containers like salad containers work well. Ensure they are clean and sanitized before use.
Fresh Potting Soil or Indoor Potting Soil: Choose a suitable growing medium that promotes healthy growth and moisture retention. Options include a soilless seed-starting mix, coconut coir, vermiculite, or even compost. Ensure the medium is lightweight, sterile, and well-draining.
Watering Can or Spray Bottle: You'll need a watering can or a misting spray bottle to water your microgreens gently. Look for a watering can with a fine nozzle or a spray bottle that provides a gentle mist.
Plastic Cover or Plastic Wrap: To create a humid environment for germination, use a plastic cover or plastic wrap to cover your containers. This helps retain moisture and encourages successful seed sprouting.
Light Source: Microgreens require adequate light to grow properly. If you don't have access to sufficient natural sunlight, consider using artificial grow lights. LED or fluorescent lights with a spectrum suitable for plant growth are ideal.
Seed-Starting Trays, Plastic Produce Containers, or Take-Out Containers: Choose containers that are wide enough to accommodate the number of plants you intend to grow. Make sure they have drainage holes at the bottom and use a thin layer of gravel or pebbles in each container to ensure adequate drainage.
Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Microgreens at Home
Microgreens are a great way to add flavor and nutrition to any meal, and they're surprisingly easy to grow at home. With this step-by-step guide, you'll be able to enjoy your own homegrown microgreens in no time!
Step 1: Selecting Seeds:
First, decide what type of microgreen you’d like to grow. Explore different microgreen varieties to figure out which ones are best suited for your home environment and desired flavor. Select the clean seeds. Make sure you're using good-quality seeds. It is recommended to buy high-quality organic seeds from trusted seed suppliers.
Step 2: Prepare the Containers:
Choose a shallow microgreen tray or container with drainage holes to ensure proper water drainage. Plastic trays, seedling trays, or even recycled containers like cardboard juice cartons or salad containers work well. Before use, make sure to clean and sanitize the containers to minimize the risk of contamination.
Step 3: Prepare the Growing Medium
Fill your containers with the growing medium of your choice. It’s important to use lightweight, sterile, and well-draining material that will promote healthy growth.
Step 4: Sow the Seeds
Now it's time to sow the microgreen seeds. Evenly scatter the seeds over the prepared containers, ensuring good coverage and a dense layer without overcrowding. Gently press the seeds into the growing medium to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. A sprinkle of water after sowing can help settle the seeds in place.
Step 5: Water and Cover
After sowing the seeds, water them lightly using a misting spray or a gentle shower. The goal is to moisten the seeds without oversaturating the growing medium. To create a humid environment that aids in germination, cover the containers with a plastic lid or plastic wrap. This helps retain moisture and promotes seed germination.
Step 6: Germination Process and Growth
Place the covered containers in a warm and sunny spot. Ideally, position them near a window that receives ample direct sunlight or use artificial grow lights. Microgreens require adequate sunlight to grow properly. Keep in mind that different types of microgreens may have varying light requirements. As the seeds germinate and sprouts emerge, remove the cover to allow for air circulation.
Step 7: Watering and Care
Keep the growing medium or soil moist but avoid overwatering, as it can lead to mold or fungal issues. Mist the microgreens gently with water as needed, using a spray bottle or a watering can with a fine nozzle. Ensure that the water reaches the roots without causing waterlogging. If excess water accumulates in the tray, pour it out to prevent root rot.
Step 8: Temperature for germination of seeds:
Microgreen seed germination requires temperatures between 15 - 25 degrees Celsius for optimal growth. When the temperature is too low, germination can be delayed or impaired, and when the temperature is too high, there is a risk of root damage and wilting.
Step 9: Monitor and Maintain
As your microgreens grow, monitor their progress and make necessary adjustments. Check for signs of pests or diseases, and take appropriate measures if needed. If the microgreens appear overcrowded, thin them out by snipping excess sprouts at ground level, allowing more space for the remaining plants to thrive.
Step 10: Harvesting
Once your microgreens have reached the desired height, typically around 1 to 3 inch tall, they are ready to be harvested. When they are ready to harvest you can see a set of true leaves. Using clean scissors or a sharp kitchen knife, cut the microgreens just above the soil level. Rinse the clipped stems gently with water to remove any loose soil or debris.
Step 11: Enjoy and Store
Fresh microgreens are bursting with spicy flavor and nutrition. Incorporate these fresh greens into your favorite dishes or garnish dishes like salads, sandwiches, or smoothies. If you have excess microgreens, store them in a storage container or a resealable bag. They can stay fresh for a few days, but it's best to consume them as soon as possible to enjoy their optimal flavor and nutritional content.
In conclusion, growing a microgreen kitchen garden at home is a simple process that allows you to enjoy a continuous supply of fresh and nutritious greens right from your kitchen. By following the basic steps outlined above, you can easily grow microgreens at home. Remember to provide your microgreens with adequate sunlight or artificial grow lights, as light is crucial for their development. Select high-quality, organic seeds to ensure the best results, and explore the vast array of microgreen options available. From the peppery flavors of mustard to the nutty flavor of sunflower microgreens, the variety of microgreen varieties is truly endless. Remember to care for these tender plants with love and attention. Embrace the joy of homegrown microgreens and experience the freshness and nutritional benefits they bring to your meals.
Dr. Vandana K.