What Are Microgreens and Why Should You Grow Them?

  • By: Linda Simpson
  • Date: May 19, 2023
  • Time to read: 7 min.

Welcome, my fellow gardening enthusiasts, to the fascinating world of microgreens! Today, we’re diving deep into this green revolution that’s captivating both gardeners and food lovers alike. Prepare to be amazed as we uncover the secrets of these tiny wonders and discover why you absolutely need to grow them in your own garden. Trust me, it’s a decision that will have you reaping a harvest of benefits!

So, what exactly are microgreens? Think of them as the young, vibrant siblings of fully grown greens. These pint-sized powerhouses are harvested when they’ve developed their first true leaves, usually within 7 to 21 days after germination. What sets microgreens apart is their intense flavors, stunning colors, and tender texture—a combination that makes them truly extraordinary.

Differentiating Microgreens from Sprouts and Baby Greens

Before we proceed, let’s clarify the distinction between microgreens, sprouts, and baby greens. Sprouts are typically grown in water, where the seeds germinate and are consumed before the true leaves appear. Baby greens, on the other hand, are slightly more mature, harvested when they have their first set of true leaves. Microgreens fall somewhere in between, offering a delightful blend of delicate leaves and concentrated flavors that truly make them stand out.

The Incredible Variety of Microgreens

One of the most exciting aspects of microgreens is the vast array of species available for cultivation. From aromatic herbs like basil and cilantro to nutrient-rich vegetables like broccoli and radish, the choices are endless. Each variety offers its own unique flavors, colors, and textures, allowing you to create a vibrant tapestry of greens in your garden.

Anecdote: I still remember the first time I laid eyes on a tray filled with microgreens of different species. The vivid hues of red amaranth, the lush green of pea shoots, and the delicate purple of kohlrabi microgreens—it was like a living artist’s palette right in front of me. It was then that I realized the incredible potential for creativity and culinary exploration that microgreens bring to the table.

Nutritional Benefits of Microgreens:

Now, let’s talk about the nutritional bonanza that microgreens offer. Despite their small size, these little wonders are packed with an abundance of essential nutrients. Research has shown that microgreens can contain higher concentrations of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants compared to their fully-grown counterparts. It’s like Mother Nature’s way of providing a concentrated dose of goodness!

With just a handful of microgreens, you can add a significant boost to your daily nutrient intake. Whether it’s vitamin C for immune support, vitamin K for bone health, or the powerhouse combination of antioxidants, microgreens offer a convenient and delicious way to nourish your body.

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As a nutrition enthusiast, I’m always on the lookout for foods that deliver maximum nutritional impact. Microgreens quickly became my go-to choice when I learned about their nutrient density. I couldn’t believe that something so small could pack such a punch! Incorporating microgreens into my diet has not only enhanced the flavor and visual appeal of my meals, but it has also given me an extra dose of vitality and well-being.

But hold onto your gardening gloves, because we’re just getting started! We’ll delve into the art of cultivating microgreens, sharing tips, and tricks that

Now that we’ve explored the wonders of microgreens, it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get our hands dirty in the world of cultivation. Don’t worry, my green-thumbed friends, growing microgreens is a breeze, even for beginners. So, let’s dig in and discover the secrets to cultivating these delightful greens!

Choosing the Right Seeds for Microgreen Cultivation:

The first step in your microgreen journey is selecting the perfect seeds. Fortunately, there’s a wide range of options available, each with its own unique flavor profile and growth characteristics. Consider your personal preferences and culinary interests. Are you a fan of spicy flavors? Try radish or arugula microgreens. Craving something fresh and crisp? Look into pea shoots or sunflower microgreens. The choice is yours!

When selecting seeds, make sure they are specifically labeled for microgreen production. These seeds are typically untreated and selected for their quick germination and tender young leaves. It’s worth investing in high-quality seeds to ensure a successful and flavorful harvest.

Insights on Suitable Growing Mediums and Containers:

Once you have your seeds, it’s time to choose a suitable growing medium. While there are various options available, such as soilless mixes, coco coir, or even paper towels, I find that organic potting soil is a reliable and readily available choice. Make sure the soil is loose and well-draining to prevent waterlogging and root rot.

As for containers, shallow trays or seedling flats work beautifully for growing microgreens. They provide ample space for the roots to develop while allowing for easy moisture management. You can even repurpose containers like takeaway trays or recycled plastic containers, as long as they have drainage holes.

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Optimal Growing Conditions: Temperature and Light:

Microgreens thrive in a cozy environment with plenty of warmth and light. Aim for a consistent temperature between 60°F and 75°F (15°C to 24°C) during the germination and growth stages. If you live in a cooler climate, consider using a seedling heat mat to provide the extra warmth needed for optimal growth.

When it comes to light, microgreens love bright, indirect sunlight. Place your trays near a sunny window or use artificial grow lights if natural light is limited. Position the lights about 4 to 6 inches above the trays and adjust the height as the microgreens grow to maintain an optimal distance.

Step-by-Step Process: Sowing, Watering, and Harvesting Microgreens:

Are you ready to get your hands dirty? Here’s a step-by-step process to guide you through the microgreen cultivation journey:

  1. Fill your trays with the chosen growing medium, leaving about half an inch of space from the top.
  2. Evenly spread the seeds over the soil surface, aiming for a dense but not overcrowded distribution.
  3. Gently press the seeds into the soil, ensuring good seed-to-soil contact.
  4. Mist the soil with water to ensure moisture penetrates the seeds and soil without causing waterlogging.
  5. Place the trays in a warm, well-lit location and cover them with a humidity dome or plastic wrap to create a greenhouse effect.
  6. Water the microgreens regularly, using a spray bottle or a gentle watering can to avoid dislodging the seeds.
  7. Keep a close eye on the moisture levels, ensuring the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.
  8. As the microgreens grow, remove the cover and continue watering as needed.
  9. When the first true leaves appear (around 7 to 21 days), it’s time to harvest! Use clean scissors to cut the microgreens just above the soil level.

I still remember the thrill of watching my first batch of microgreens sprout before my eyes. It was like witnessing a tiny miracle unfold. Day by day, those once bare trays transformed into lush green carpets of potential. The anticipation grew as I watered them, bathed them in sunlight, and watched them reach for the sky. And then, the moment arrived—the first true leaves emerged, a testament to their vibrant life force. It was time to harvest and taste the fruits of my labor.

Tips for Troubleshooting Common Challenges:

As with any gardening endeavor, cultivating microgreens may come with a few challenges along the way. But fear not! Here are some tips to help you overcome common obstacles:

  1. Preventing Mold and Fungal Growth: Proper ventilation and careful watering can help prevent mold and fungal issues. Ensure good airflow by removing covers once the seeds have germinated, and water the microgreens from the bottom or with a gentle mist to avoid excess moisture on the leaves.
  2. Addressing Leggy Growth: Leggy or elongated growth may occur if the microgreens are not receiving sufficient light. Adjust the height of the grow lights to maintain the recommended distance and ensure they receive at least 12-16 hours of light daily.
  3. Managing Overcrowding: It’s important not to sow seeds too densely, as overcrowding can lead to stunted growth and increased competition for resources. Aim for an even spread of seeds and thin out any excessively dense areas if needed.
  4. Preventing Nutrient Deficiencies: While microgreens receive nutrients from the seed, the soil or growing medium can become depleted over time. Consider using a diluted organic liquid fertilizer to provide an extra boost of nutrients during the growth process.
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Benefits of Growing Microgreens:

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge and know-how to grow microgreens, let’s explore the amazing benefits that await you:

  1. Accessibility and Convenience: Microgreens can be grown in small spaces, making them accessible to gardeners of all levels, including apartment dwellers and urban enthusiasts. They offer the joy of gardening, even in limited areas.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: Growing your own microgreens is a budget-friendly way to enjoy fresh, nutrient-packed greens. You’ll save money on store-bought options while indulging in a continuous supply of homegrown goodness.
  3. Environmental Friendliness: By growing your own microgreens, you’re reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation and packaging. Plus, you have control over using organic practices, promoting sustainability in your own garden.
  4. Culinary Adventure: Microgreens are a culinary delight, adding an explosion of flavors, colors, and textures to your dishes. From salads and sandwiches to soups and garnishes, microgreens take your culinary creations to new heights.

Now you have the basic knowledge and inspiration to embark on a microgreen adventure. With their intense flavors, nutritional benefits, and simple cultivation process, microgreens are a true treasure waiting to be grown in your own garden. So, grab those seeds, get your hands dirty, and prepare to harvest a world of deliciousness right at your fingertips. Happy growing and bon appétit!

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