How to grow microgreens at home

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How to grow microgreens at home | Types | Health benefits

 All you need to know about microgreens: 

Microgreens have concentrated flavors and tastes that vary from sweet, sour, spicy -bitter depending upon the variety you grow. Microgreens should not be confused with sprouts because microgreens have a set of true leaves, a stem, and roots while sprouts are just a germinated seeds that have a shoot coming out of them. Microgreens are completely organic as they are grown without any pesticides. It is impossible to grow any nutritious food without spending much time or money on it. But growing microgreens definitely stands as an exception to this fact 

 

What are microgreens?

Growing plants (vegetable/herb) up to small heights (2-3 inches) until they develop cotyledon leaves (true leaves)  are considered microgreens. They can be harvested in less than 2-3 weeks depending upon the vegetable/herb you choose to grow. These microgreens have strong flavors and tastes. Initially, these are introduced/used as garnishes but became popular due to their excellent nutritional values. 

How to grow microgreens at home
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These young or micro plants hold the taste/flavor of their mature plants or vegetables e.g. A microgreen of carrot has the taste of carrot while fenugreek has the flavor of fenugreek .Microgreens are loaded with a lot of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, carotenoids and phytochemicals that have numerous health benefits when consumed. Roots of microgreens are also edible along with their leaves and stems. 


Types of micro-greens:

Not every plant can be grown as microgreens because micro plants of every vegetable do not contain such nutritional benefits. Only certain vegetables/herbs benefit us when grown as microgreens. Some of the popular microgreens among them are

Vegetables:

  • Most of the Brassicas like mustard, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, kohlrabi, turnips, watercress
  • Other vegetables like beetroot, carrot, 
Types of brassicas microgreens that can be growns

Image source

    Herbs:

    • Most of the herbs like spinach, coriander, basil, parsley, dill, amaranth, arugula, celery, lettuce, swiss chard, fenugreek.

      Chives:

      • Onion, garlic, leek.

      Legumes:

      • Chickpea, beans, lentils.


        Cereals:

        • Wheat, barley, oats, maize.

        Flowers:

        • Sunflower

         

        Reasons to grow microgreens:

        • Easy to grow even without any technical skills.

        • Can be harvested in less time.

        • Less soil/growing media: it just requires less than 3 inches of growing media (compost/soil/coco peat).

        • Need little sunlight and water.

        • Have many health benefits.

        • Increase the visual appearance of the dishes.

        • Add taste to food.

         

        Nutrition of microgreens:

        Nutrient levels of microgreens are many times (2-40 times) higher than their mature counter parts.

        • Microgreens are packed with vitamins A, C, E, and K.

        • They are rich in minerals like potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and copper.

        • They have carotenoids like β- carotene, lutein.

        How to grow microgreens
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        A study has been conducted on 25 commercially available microgreens and concluded that they contain

         

        Sl.no

        Antioxidant/carotenoid

        Mg/100 g of fresh weight (FW) of microgreen


        1.

        Ascorbic acid

        20.4 - 147.0

        2.

        Β - carotene

        0.6 - 12.1

        3.

        Lutein/zeaxanthin

        1.3 - 10.1

        4.

        Violaxanthin

        0.9 - 7.7

        5.

        Phylloquinone

        0.6 - 4.1 µg/g

        6.

        𝛼 - tocopherol

        4.9 - 87.4

        7.

        𝛾 - tocopherol

        3 - 39.4

         

        Among those 25 microgreens, cilantro is rich in lutein and - carotene while red cabbage, cilantro, garnet amaranth, and green daikon radish have higher concentrations of ascorbic acid, carotenoids, phylloquinone, and tocopherols.

         

        Health benefits of microgreens:

        • Help in managing weight 

        • Anti-oxidants that are present in microgreens help in reducing the production of highly reactive compounds (free radicals) which damage cells in our body

        • Help in reducing the risks of cancers, heart diseases, and Alzheimer’s diseases. Polyphenols (antioxidants) play important role in reducing these risks.
          Microgreens that belong to the Brassicaceae family like red cabbage, red and purple mustard, purple kohlrabi, mizuna have high polyphenol content.

        • Help in maintaining sugar levels in the body.

        • Improve heart health.

        • Prevent chronic diseases.

        • Act as good detoxifiers

        • Help in reducing the destruction of red blood cells by supplying a good amount of oxygen to the blood.

         

        How to grow microgreens:

        Growing microgreens is so simple that it can be done by anyone from kids to adults. It is such a simple task as it is not associated with any technical skills/knowledge of growing plants. All you need to care about it is, moisture. Yes just by maintaining the growing media moist, you will be rewarded with delicious microgreens whose taste will drive you to grow more and more microgreens.

        Essentials to grow microgreens: 

        • Suitable site: Window side (that receives sunlight), balcony, or you can even use grow light to grow microgreens.

        • Container: Any shallow container

        • Growing media: Any fertile soil/potting mix/compost you can even use coco peat by mixing it with compost/fertile soil.

        • Seeds:  Seeds from trusted source


        Steps to grow micro greens:

        • Take a shallow container and fill it with healthy growing media.

        • Moist the growing media by spraying water.

          Growing microgreens in shallow container Watering the growing media of microgreens
          Image source, image source

        • Scatter seeds all over the surface of the soil.

        • Use fork/any twig to distribute the clustered seeds.

        • Add a thin layer of growing media on top of scattered seeds and give a modest press. 

          Scattering seeds - how to grow microgreens at home Adding soil layer - how to grow microgreens at home
          Image source, image source

        • Sprinkle some more water to moisten the seeds and added growing media.

        • Place the container in a spot where it receives at least 3-4 hours of sunlight.

        • Maintain the growing media moist (not wet) all the time.

        • Within 7-10 days (depends on seeds) all these small seeds will be turned out into closely growing microgreens with a small and lovely set of true leaves.

          Spraying water after sowing microgreen seeds Fully grown microgreens
          Image source, image source

        • Now you can uproot and add them to your food after washing them properly. You can even consume the roots as the whole shoot, root and leaves of microgreens are  edible.

        • After harvesting you can start a next set of microgreens by adding some more soil/compost to the existing growing media.

        • You can even cut the microgreens with a pair of scissors (above soil level) to get one or more (depends on seeds) harvests from them.

          cutting microgreens with scissors freshly cut microgreens
          Image source, image source

         

        Tips to grow microgreens: 

        • Always use healthy seeds and growing media to prevent the risks of soil borne or seed borne diseases.

        • After sowing seeds, place weights on top of soil until you notice the signs of germination. This will facilitate the simultaneous germination of seeds.

        • Do not overwater the growing media as it facilitates the growth of pathogens.

        • Do not expose the seeds/microgreens to harsh sunlight. Only 3-4 hours of morning/evening sunlight works wondrers for microgreens.

        • Use clean scissors to harvest microgreens.

         

        Time-taken by different microgreens to grow:

        Most of the micro-greens come to harvest within two weeks.

        Microgreen

        Days of harvest

        Radish

        8-10 days

        Spinach 

        10-12 days

        Beetroot

        10-12 days

        Fenugreek

        8-10 days

        Mustard

        7-8  days

        Wheatgrass

        5-7 days

        Broccoli

        10-14 days

        Red cabbage

        10-14 days

        Rocket (arugula)

        10-12 days

        Kale

        8-12 days

        Swiss chard

        7-12 days

        Lettuce

        8-12 days

         

        How to use microgreens:

        • Microgreens can be used in smoothies
        • They can be used as side dishes
        • They can be added in sandwiches, and burgers
        • They can be used in soups and salads

         Microgreens in salads Microgreens in hotdog
        Image source, image source

        Microgreens in burgers Microgreens in soups
        Image sourceImage source

        Frequently asked questions:

        1. Is it risky/harmful to eat microgreens?

          Microgreens can make you fall sick if you have grown them using poor/diseased seeds. So always consider buying microgreens seeds from trusted sources. Organic microgreens contain a lot of health benefits in addition to this, they can be added to many of your favorite dishes.


          2. Can we grow microgreens at home?

            Yes, microgreens can be grown right at your home despite your climate, region, and state. All you need to have are, a container, compost/any organic potting mix, and seeds. Only by having these essentials, you will be rewarded with nutrient-rich microgreens within few days.


            3. Is it costly to grow micro-greens?

              No, growing microgreens is not at all costly as it takes only 2-3 inches of potting mix or soil media which is many times lesser than growing mature plants. And the best part of them is, they worth growing in less time.


              4. Can we regrow microgreens?

                We can regrow few microgreens by cutting the stems instead of uprooting them. When they reach 3 inches (when they develop cotyledon leaves), cut them at the base using scissors. By this you can harvest them again (once or twice). Growing them again and again leads to decrease in nutrient content. So harvest them twice and start growing them again from seeds.


                5. Can you use store-purchased regular grains to grow microgreens?

                  While not all types of grains, but you can grow few microgreens from store-purchased grains. Some of them are fenugreek, mustard, green gram, chick pea, wheat and sunflower.


                  6. Are microgreens and baby greens same?

                    No, both the microgreens and baby greens are different.
                    When plants develop their first set of true leaves, they are considered microgreens while any stage greater than microgreens and lesser than mature greens are considered baby greens. 


                    7. How do microgreens are different from sprouts?

                      Microgreens have a set of true leaves, a stem, and roots while sprouts are just a germinated seeds that have a shoot coming out of them.

                       
                      8. Do microgreens need a lot of growing media?

                        Microgreens just need 2-3 inches of growing media to reward you with nutritious edibles. Any fertile soil/potting mix/compost can be used as growing media to grow microgreens.


                        9. Are microgreens safer than sprouts?

                          Yes, the risks of bacterial growth in sprouts are more than that of microgreens. So when compared to sprouts, microgreens are safer to consume. However, the presence of bacteria/pathogens in sprouts/microgreens mainly depends on the type of seeds and growing media you use.


                          10. Can we cook microgreens?

                            Microgreens can be used to garnish your food but cannot be cooked. They can be eaten raw by adding them to your salads, sandwiches, burgers etc.


                            11. What happens if we forget to harvest micro-greens?

                              You need not to worry when you forget to harvest microgreens in time. Because you can also grow them to baby greens/mature greens with the same microgreen seeds


                              12. Which microgreens have higher nutrient content?
                              Microgreens of the brassicas (red cabbage, kohlrabi), cilantro, radish have higher (nearly 40 times more than their mature counter parts) nutrient content than other microgreens.


                              13. Which microgreens can be harvested in less time?

                                Microgreens of wheatgrass, mustard, fenugreek, spinach, lettuce can be harvested in less time 

                                 

                                Reference
                                https://www.researchgate.net/publication/267354000_Microgreens_Assessment_of_Nutrient_Concentrations 

                                 

                                 

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