If you are new to gardening, microgreens are a perfect way to start learning and practicing your gardening skills. They grow quickly and easily. Growing microgreens is a simple process that can be done all year round. You may recognize microgreens from seeing them served as a garnish on dishes in gourmet restaurants. Aside from making a dish look nice, they are actually considered a superfood and can provide an abundance of nutrients into your diet. The coolest part is that they are very easy to grow in your own home!
You may be wondering if microgreens and sprouts are essentially the same thing. There are actually several differences between the two. Sprouts are grown in water, while microgreens are grown in soil. Sprouts are basically germinated seeds and can be harvested less than a week after germination. The seed and stem of the plant can be eaten because it is grown in water. Microgreens are seedlings that are harvested approximately 14-21 days after germination. They are grown longer and require air ventilation and sunlight to grow.
Health Benefits of Microgreens
Microgreens are packed with nutrients and have a higher concentration of nutrients in the smaller plant compared to when it is fully grown. They contain all of the nutritional value of the fully grown plant, but concentrated into the smaller, younger plant. The nutrient-dense microgreens contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that promote overall health in your body. For example, broccoli microgreens contain a cancer-fighting compound called sulforaphane (SFN). The microgreen contains 10-100 times more sulfrophane than the full grown plant. Sulforaphane has been said to help protect against cancer and fight inflammation. You can read more about the benefits of this compound here.
You can take any vegetable or herb and utilize it as a microgreen by harvesting it early and not letting it fully mature. Microgreen seed mixes are available to purchase or you can buy a regular packet of seeds of any kind of plant that produces a good microgreen. The following plants are widely accepted as some of the easiest and most delicious microgreens to grow.
- mustard greens
How To Grow Microgreens
Supplies you will need:
- growing tray with no holes
- potting soil
- spray bottle
- window with natural light or a grow light
- heating mat (optional)
- Fill the tray with approximately 1-2 inches of moistened soil
- Spread the seeds out evenly and densely across the tray, close enough that the seeds are almost touching each other.
- Lightly cover the seeds with potting soil and mist with the spray bottle.
- Place the tray under your grow light or near a southern-facing window. If you have a heating mat, use it to help promote germination.
- Mist the plants a few times a day to ensure they do not dry out. Be sure not to overwater as that will cause mold to grow.
- The microgreens can be harvested once they grow their second set of leaves which is usually two-three weeks after germination.
- Harvest the microgreens by cutting the stem to just above the soil.
- Make sure to wash them!
- Microgreens can be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for approximately one week.
Practical Uses for Microgreens
Now that you are on your way to growing your own microgreens, naturally you are wondering what to do with them! I’ve listed some creative ideas on how you can best add them in your everyday diet.
- Micro basil and arugula are perfect toppings for a freshly made pizza!
- Adding different varieties of microgreens to a salad will enhance the flavor and improve the nutrient profile compared to plain lettuce.
- Add crunch to your sandwiches and wraps by adding in microgreens.
- Use microgreens in your smoothie to boost the nutritional content.
- Microgreens can also used as a garnish to make any dish look more fancy!
Have you ever attempted to grow microgreens or sprouts? Leave a comment below with your experiences!
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