What are Microgreens?
Whether it is on the menu of a fine restaurant or the product section of a specialty grocery store, you are likely to spot microgreens. They are dressed in vinaigrette as a salad or used to stylishly top our meal dishes as garnishes. However, other than the fact that they are very small in size, what exactly are microgreens? Well, they are delicate miniature seedlings of edible herbs and vegetables that add flavor, texture and color to a variety of foods. They pack a dense assortment of nutrients complete with beneficial enzymes thanks to their rapid growth.
While they may be presented in a sophisticated manner at gourmet restaurants, microgreens, also known as “vegetable confetti”, are simple and cost-effective to grow. Typically, microgreens are harvested using scissors within a month with the edible parts being the stem and the leaves.
Nutritional Content in Microgreens
So how do these tiny greens fare against their mature counterparts? Well, studies have shown that they punch well above their weight in terms of nutrition. Microgreens such as red cabbage micros, garnet amaranth, cilantro, radish and lettuce seedlings pack as much as 40 times higher levels of vital nutrients than their mature counterparts.
Red cabbage micros, for instance, was found to have 69 times more Vitamin K than its mature counterpart. Cilantro microgreens recorded 3 times higher beta-carotene concentration. Green daikon radish on the other hand, was found to have the highest Vitamin E concentration among other microgreens as well as its mature counterpart.
How to Grow them?
The beauty of microgreens is that anyone can grow them. All you need is a shallow container, windowsill, hemp pad, some potting mix and suitable seeds. As long as the microgreens’ trays (containers) receive good light and adequate moisture, they will grow just fine. The seeds also need to be adequately spaced so that they are not too cramped. A useful tip to help with faster germination, that you can use for larger seeds like beans and peas, is to soak them overnight in warm water.
Microgreens are typically harvested before they attain maturity by snipping them at soil level after the first two ‘true’ leaves emerge from the cotyledon. They usually attain a growth height of anywhere between one inch and three inches. It really is the ideal crop for urban gardeners with limited space. There are dozens of microgreens’ varieties and the number keeps on growing with the years.
Benefits of Growing Microgreens at Home
- The obvious health benefit
Because microgreens are harvested almost immediately after germination, they contain a higher level of nutrients than mature plants. Studies have proven that they have a very high content of carotenoids, vitamins and antioxidants.
- It perfect for space-efficient urban home farming
You don’t need expansive tracts of land to grow microgreens. Even if you are living in a city apartment, all you need is a sunny windowsill and you are ready to grow your own fresh organic greens.
- It is as simple as A B C
You don’t have to be an experienced farmer to grow microgreens. It requires few and affordable materials and a few simple steps with little maintenance and you are good to go.
- Refine your means with color, texture and flavor
You’ve probably heard the phrase: “looks are an important part of taste”. Well, microgreens come in a variety of colors that you can use to garnish your dishes. In addition, they offer uniquely specific essences, textures and flavors known to please the most refined of palates.
- The aspect of “self-sufficiency”
Being able to eat what you grow is one of the most satisfying feelings. With microgreens, growing organic produce is no longer looked at as a daunting complex and labor-intensive task. As a matter of fact, modern technologies like hydroponic kits make it even a whole lot easier.
Many microgreens growers are opting for hemp pads over soil because they make it possible to obtain a clean soil-free harvest. Also, these stabilized growing media are suitable for a wide variety of microgreens as well as growing methods that preserve moisture much longer. We provide such hemp pads to all aspiring and established microgreen growers to help them achieve the best results (provide sales page link here).