Saturday, July 2, 2016
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are high in nutritional value and are an alternative to sprouts. Most often grown in seedling trays, microgreens differ from sprouts in that they are grown in sunlight and harvested with scissors when there are 2 or more true leaves, whereas sprouts are eaten when they are much smaller. Microgreens are halfway in size between sprouts and salad mixes.
Advantages to growing your own microgreens include:
* Quick, simple and only basic equipment is required.
* There is a wide selection of taste sensations, colours and textures to choose from.
* Very little space is required in the kitchen. You can grow food without the need for a garden.
* Very economical as microgreens and sprouts can multiply by up to 15 times their weight.
Broccoli, chickpeas, kale, radish and red cabbage, amaranth, barley, basil, beetroot, bok choy buckwheat chickpeas, coriander, chicory, endive, cress, garlic chives, cress, dill, lettuce (all leafy tyes), linseed, mizuna, mustard, orach, oats, parsely, pea radish, red cabbage, rocket, silverbeet, spinach, sunflower, wheat.
Containers for Growing Microgreens
You don’t need a garden - just sunlight, soil and water to produce abundant supplies of nutritious microgreens on a kitchen bench, window-sill, balcony or shadehouse.
Commercially-made plastic seedling trays are the most common containers used to grow microgreens.
Trays should be flat with ample drainage holes allowing leafy microgreens to grow straight upwards to receive maximum light.
Use soil that consists of organic potting mix, cocopeat, vermiculite and/or seed-raising mix.
Fill the tray with your selected soil and moisten the mix.
If required, soak the seeds, but be careful not to over-soak. (If seeds and water go murky and a scum forms on the surface, this means that the seeds have soaked for too long. They are best discarded.)
Sprinkle the seeds evenly on top of the mix and gently pat down.
Do not over-crowd the tray as too much seed will cause ‘damping off’, which is a fungal disease that makes your plants collapse. It also results in long, spindly stems.
Sift a fine, thin layer of soil mix over the seeds then set the container into a drip tray.
Place the tray on a sunny windowsill or even under grow lights.
Water often using a sprayer bottle set to fine spray. Add diluted organic nutrients (eg. seaweed) to your sprayer bottle, as this will improve the nutrient levels in the microgreens.
Germination is the process in which water, oxygen and light work together with the grain or seed to start a new life. Seeds will germinate within 3 to 7 days.
Some seeds will not germinate at very low or very high temperatures. Always check the growing instructions on the seed packet.
If microgreens appear weak, spindly and/or skinny, the plants may need more feeding and/or sunlight. Move the tray to a position with stronger sunlight and/or spray with a diluted solution of seaweed.
Within 1 to 4 weeks, once the second set of leaves appear, the microgreen can be harvested for salads, garnishes and whatever you wish.
Cut just above ground level with scissors. Many types of microgreens will regrow and can be cut several times.
Afterwards, the tray contents can be added to the compost heap or worm farm.