At this point you may have heard some of the buzz about Microgreens but may not know exactly what people are talking about. Well, here’s your opportunity to learn some of the basics about Microgreens as well as DIY methods to get your greens to grow easily and inexpensively!
First off, what even is a Microgreen?
A microgreen is a vegetable that is harvested just after the cotyledon leaves develop. Cotyledon leaves are the first leaves produced by plants. They are often referred to as “seed leaves” because they are part of the seed or embryo of the plant. The interesting part is that the role of the cotyledons is to store the food reserves of the seed. As the reserves are used up they turn green and begin photosynthesis.
So, Why all the Buzz?
Microgreens were originally used for garnishes by chefs but in 2017, they gained a lot of popularity for many reasons. Mainly, they now offer a healthy addition to our diets with the ability to be farmed and grown in small spaces. Microgreens are packed tight with nutrients and flavor which is why they have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Many varieties are packed with potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and copper. A lot of them are also rich in plant-based antioxidants.
Microgreens are often deemed to be healthier than their full-sized relatives. Research has found that microgreens contain a denser variety of antioxidants and polyphenols than found in their mature stages. For example, a micro red cabbage contains 103 mg of vitamin C, where a full-grown red cabbage contains 69mg of vitamin C. Nutrient levels vary in different microgreens. They usually have higher levels of Vitamin E and C, along with carotenoids, which are beneficial antioxidants. They are also often chock full of vitamin A.
Microgreens are also easy to incorporate into your diet and can be done so in a number of ways. Popular consumption methods include sandwiches, wraps, salads, juice, and smoothies. I also like putting them on eggs or even pizza! Microgreens are considered best eaten raw as they lose important nutrients and water-soluble vitamins when they are cooked.
Popular microgreens Include: • Kale • Arugula • Beet greens • Radish • Peas • Mustard • Cabbage • Basil • Lettuce • Spinach • Cucumber • Garlic • Onion • Leek • Broccoli
Why are they so expensive?
Like many trends, things can become expensive when they become in demand! The microgreen cultivation process can require a lot of labor. In caring for microgreens, farmers must frequently water them, keep them well lit, and keep the area at a certain humidity level. Because of their nutrient content, upkeep, and popularity, their price has been driven up.
How can I grow them at home?
If you’re like me, you like plants. I find a lot of joy in my indoor and outdoor plants. I get something out of watering them and seeing them grow makes me happy. The other week I stopped by a farm supply store and took a walk through their nursey, looking for a new addition to my indoor plants. I came across a seed section that was dedicated to microgreens. There were so many varieties! I was a bit overwhelmed, unsure of which microgreen to purchase. I ended up buying a “Umami Asian Blend” that consists of Bok Choy, Pak Choi, Red Giant Mustard, Mizuna Mustard, and Chinese Cabbage! I was so excited! Such a variety of greens!
Another easy way to get started with microgreens it is with sunflower seeds! You can actually buy bird seed and use that as the seed for your microgreen project. If you want to go with this route (by far the cheapest) look for 100% black oil sunflower seeds used in bird seed. (it’s found in most bird seed).
Do it yourself!
Fill a Tupperware container with soil and lightly water it. Then place the seeds on top and space them out evenly. Then mist water on the seeds and cover with a lid. Check on your seeds daily. Once they have sprouted, remove the lid of the container and mist them twice a day. Depending on your seed, microgreens are ready for harvest two to three weeks after planting. Microgreens can be grown indoors anytime of year. They are ready to harvest when they have their first leaves (aka cotyledons).
Be careful of nightshade family plants such as tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers. These should not to be grown and consumed as microgreens because nightshade plants are poisonous during their microgreen stage. Don’t eat!