Ever been to a fancy restaurant ? Well if you have, you would have noticed the plates/food are always presented in a very sophisticated manner. In order for the food to look so inviting, chefs usually add some form of topping or garnish to them. This brightens the plate and makes for a mouth-watering meal. Some might eat the garnish other will just scrape it to the side. Either way, these beautiful little green leaves ( also known as microgreens ) are really NOT just there to make a plate look pretty.
In recent years microgreens have become more and more popular not just in restaurants but also in the ordinary kitchen at home. Extensive research have been done on the nutritional value of these “little green babies”, and people have become more aware that they are actually very good for you. I decided to grow microgreens from home myself. Before giving you the “step by step recipe”, I’ll very briefly cover what microgreens are in essence, which seeds you can use, and my own two reasons why I grown microgreens.
Microgreens – Little Green Babies
All the plants, herbs or flowers I grow from seed, I call ” my little green babies”. Microgreens are a tiny form of young edible plants or herbs that are harvested once around 3-4cm in height and while only having it first leaves. From the moment you plant the seeds to the time you harvest them, it would have taken only 7-14 days. Very quick turn around time in my opinion. Microgreens are generally grown in some form of growth medium ( such as soil or peat ) or hydroponically. When harvested the stems are cut just above the soil-line. So, you will only be eating the stems and leaves and NO roots.
Microgreens are not to be confused with Sprouts. Sprouts on the other hand are usually germinated in water and the entire plant would be consumed ( roots, stems, pale and leaves ) . Sprouts should only be eaten fully cooked, as they could contain very dangerous bacterial pathogens.
There are literally hundreds of different microgreen available right now. Each with its own flavor, benefit or nutritional value. Some of the most popular microgreens to grow yourself at home are:
While some microgreens can be a bit difficult to germinate or grow, most are very easy to get going ( even for the complete inexperienced grower ).
I have always wanted to make sure my family ( especially the kids ) get enough nutrients and minerals in their meals. The problem I had was that my kids ( especially my daughter ) hardly ever wanted to eat her greens or vegetables. It was always a fight to finish the plate of food. So, because they couldn’t ” recognize ” the little green leaves on their plates as broccoli and me not making a fuss or telling them what they are eating. I was able to very easily disguise the ” vegetables “on the plate. This made Mommy very happy.
The amount of money one can spend on eating healthy Organic Vegetables or fruit can become a serious problem for most. It is just too expensive for most to keep buying it from the supermarkets. Sometimes double or triple the price of the ” normal alternative “. For the two reasons mentioned, it was a ” no-brainer ” to start growing microgreen myself.
The Two Favorites
Broccoli and Kale are two of my favorite Microgreens to grow. They germinate very easy and have exceptional nutritional value. Broccoli Microgreens are the super charged version of the fully grown Vegetable. Broccoli being one of the vegetables both adult and children dislike the most. It is also one of the best, hands down.
Broccoli contains a very special compound called Sulforaphane. Sulforaphane may reduce the risk of cancer and, assist with detoxification, is anti inflammatory, an antioxidant, assists with brain and mental health, boosts heart health, have anti- diabetic properties, may reduce the symptoms of Autism and are Anti- Aging. Research have indicated that Microgreens may have 4 to 40 times the amount of nutrients and Vitamins as that of the mature vegetables would produce.
Kale is loaded with Antioxidant properties, Vit C, Anti Cancer properties, one of the best sources of VIt K, prevents heart disease, anti diabetic, improves digestion, assists in eye health, and may aid in weight loss. One cup of Kale Microgreens has the equivalent of around 13 apples worth of Vit C. So it would be true to say, a cup of kale a day will keep the doctor away.
Some will become quite technical when it comes to growing microgreens, and that is fine. But for me getting straight down to the point without all the technicalities work well. With only a few items you can literary have microgreens growing all year around. All you will need are the following:
- 1x Seedling tray with drain holes ( I use 25cm x 37cm trays ) – You can use any size comfortable
- 1x Seedling tray without holes
- 1x Propagation Lid ( or plastic cling wrap )
- Growing medium ( Organic soil/compost )
- Seeds of choice
- Kitchen scale
- Drinking cup
- Water ( I use rain water )
- Water Spray bottle
- Grow lights
As you can see I mention ” Optional extras “. You can get these but it is not absolutely necessary. If you want to scale up your growing I would recommend adding them on. As for the seeds, you can use any seed labeled ” broccoli ” ( for example). There are no difference between sprouting seeds, microgreen seeds or ordinary seeds. All seeds go trough the same germination and growing process. Just make sure they are organic.
Place the Seedling tray with holes in the one without holes. Add growing medium, in this case organic soil/compost. Fill the tray approximately 4cm deep with soil. ( At this stage you can add a hand full Perlite & Vermiculite and mix well ). Make sure you level out the soil, do not press the soil down so that it becomes compact. Let the soil remain ” airy “. Add some seeds into a clean empty drinking cup. Measure out the seeds ( for Broccoli or Kale I use around 13 grams of seeds per tray ). Spread the seeds evenly on top of the soil ( this is very important ). Gently press with your hand onto the seeds ( you don’t have to cover them with more soil ).Add water to spray bottle. Spray with a fine mist over the seeds until you can see the soil is wet. Place the propagation lid ( or plastic cling wrap ) over the tray. Place the tray in a sunny windowsill ( or under grow lights ).
You will notice condensation start happening after a few hours, this is good. The humidity and warmer temperature under the lid is the perfect condition for the seeds to germinate. Spray water over the seeds if you see the soil become a bit dry or no condensation is happening. Keep the lid on for about 3-4 days or until you see most of the seeds have germinated. At this stage, remove the lid. Gently lift the top tray ( tray with holes that contains the soils and seeds ). Add some water into the tray without holes. From now on you will only be watering the seedlings this way, no more spraying water from the top. Water regularly ( check at least once a day ). The soil must always remain moist, but not saturated.
Once the first leaves have appeared ( 7-14 days) and the plant is around 3-4cm in hight it is time to harvest. Cut using a scissors just above the soil line. You don’t have to cut the entire tray at once. I cut as I need ( just don’t forget to keep watering them ). Rinse under clean water and add to your food, smoothies, salads, pizza, or pasta. Be creative, or just eat them straight from the plant.
Enjoy the ” fruits of your labor “
It is fun growing microgreens. My daughter and husband have become quite involved, helping me grow all different types of microgreens now. It’s quite exiting to see the whole process happening right in front of your eyes, knowing all the goodness we can incorporate into our meals. To grow microgreens from home are truly hassle free, anyone can grow them.
Until next time