Haven’t heard of microgreens yet? Chances are you’re missing a golden opportunity to increase the amount of nutrients present in your diet regimen. Recent research conducted by the USDA (U.S. Dept. of Agriculture) in conjunction with the University of Maryland, discovered that leaves found on microgreens have far more nutrients than fully grown leaves from the same plant. Making matters even more promising, you can grow microgreens yourself.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens refers to the initial leaves the seedling produces shortly after being planted, normally within the first 14 days. These leaves are immature and short in stature, averaging between 1”-3” tall. If these are left alone they will continue to grow into larger leaves. Most of us are familiar with microgreens, even though we are unaware of it; restaurants use them as garnish for soups and salads.
Are Microgreens the same as Sprouts?
No, they are not. In fact, there are some tell-tale differences between the two. Sprouts are germinated seeds that have grown roots, a stem, and 2-4 very small leaves within a 48-hour period. Microgreens are plants grown in soil with sunlight; they are usually ready for harvest 7-14 days after being planted.
Nutritional Value of Microgreens:
Microgreens are an excellent addition to any meal and will provide additional nutritional value to the meals you eat. Nutrients vary from one microgreen to the next, but on average these plants contain huge amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Beta Carotene. As an example, comparatively speaking, microgreen red cabbage has almost 40 times the amount of Vitamin C as a fully grown red cabbage plant.
One rule to determine microgreen nutritional value holds true across all crop cultivation; the brighter and more vibrant the crop, the higher the nutritional value it contains.
You can grow microgreens indoors or outdoors; the choice is yours. You can also purchase a prefabricated microgreen growing kit, or start your microgreen garden from scratch. If you choose to grow them indoors, then you will need an indoor growing location, soil, artificial lighting, a watering schedule, etc.
If you choose to grow microgreens outdoors, then the process is much like establishing an herb garden. Make sure the soil is free of weeds and is very loose. Sow the seeds to the recommended depth, but no deeper than the first knuckle of a finger, and sow them close together, approximately ⅛ to ¼ inch apart. Make sure the plants get plenty of water, but do not oversaturate. Do not add fertilizer of any sort.
Grow time for microgreens averages between 7-14 days, so you will be harvesting shortly after planting, normally when the plant reaches a height of 1-3 inches. If you are unsure about harvesting, look at the leaves, you will want to clip the greens off when the second leaves begin to show. Snip the greens just above the soil and leave the roots, or pull up the entire plant and clip off the small root ball.