Easy Guide On How To Grow Microgreens
Microgreens are all the rage these days. They’re the easiest way to add a dash of nutrition to your dishes without compromising on the taste. There are many benefits of microgreens, and they’re easy to grow at home.
Despite their small size, microgreens pack a nutritional punch. Ahead we tell you about their health benefits and how to grow your own.
What are microgreens?
You may have come across tiny leafy greens sprinkled on top of your pasta or in your salad recently. These baby plants are microgreens – typically are between 1-3 inches, are high on flavour and contain full nutrient content. They are not the same as sprouts (sprouts don’t have leaves). Microgreens can be grown from any vegetable or any herb – this is what determines their flavour profile. For example, if you’re looking for a fresh, zingy microgreen to add to all your summer salads, it might be a good idea to look at the mint.
The possibilities are endless, and we strongly recommend you try your hand at growing various microgreens before establishing your favourite ones.
Different types of microgreens
There is a whole world of microgreens out there. We can broadly categorise them into the following:
- Cucurbitaceae family – This includes melons, cucumbers, and squash.
- Amaranthaceae family – This includes amaranth, beets, spinach, chard and quinoa.
- Brassicaceae family – This includes arugula, broccoli, cabbage, radish and watercress.
- Apiaceae family – This includes carrot, celery, dill and fennel.
- Asteraceae family – This includes chicory, lettuce and endive.
- Amaryllidaceae family – This includes onion, garlic and leeks.
- Poaceae family includes cereals such as barley, corn, oats, rice, grasses like wheatgrass and legumes like beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
Depending on which family of microgreen you consume, the taste can vary from spicy to sour or bitter. Some variants are neutral, though and serve just as a nutritional punch.
Benefits of microgreens
As mentioned earlier, microgreens contain a concentrated form of nutrition. But what exactly are we looking at? Whereas the nutritional value varies across different microgreens, most are rich in potassium, zinc, iron, copper, and magnesium. They also contain high amounts of antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins. Most microgreens contain a higher quantity of nutrients as compared to mature green plants.
In more concrete terms, the following are the benefits of microgreens:
- They help boost immunity – We need this more than ever now. So if you feel a cold coming on, make yourself a nice little salad brimming with microgreens. Or do it regardless. Prevention > cure, amirite?
- They help keep eyesight in check – This is the case with most greens, but since microgreens contain higher levels of lutein, they might be more effective than stuffing yourself with spinach or kale.
- They keep stomach issues at bay – As they’re high on fibre, microgreens help aid a healthy bowel movement and support the growth of good bacteria in your intestines, thereby promoting overall gut health.
- They lower chances of heart disease & cancer – Microgreen help keep your blood pressure stable, thereby reducing cases of heart disease. Some variants (such as broccoli) have anti-cancer properties and are an excellent addition to anyone’s diet.
So why aren’t we devouring these baby plants in bunches? Get ready to grow your own!
How to grow microgreens at home
Microgreens can be grown both outdoors and indoors. The essential equipment you’ll need to start growing microgreens is: A pot or seed tray (you can even use a 4-5-inch-deep baking dish), water, soil (or home-made compost) and a light source (find a sunny spot so that your microgreens can receive sunlight at least 3-4 hours every day).
- Fill the pot/container with soil (3-4 inches) and sprinkle the microgreen seeds on the surface.
- Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil. Pat this down to make it level.
- Water it till it’s moist but don’t flood the container and place it at a room temperature spot.
- Once germination occurs (usually takes 2-3 days), move your microgreens tray to a sunny spot.
- Water the microgreens twice a day (make sure not to overwater) hereon.
- Give them about a week to reach full growth post, which you can pull out and start sprinkling them on your meals!
You can also grow microgreens hydroponically (without soil). For this, you’ll need a proper container (with drainage holes), a growing mat (hemp mat, coconut coir etc.) – basically something the microgreens can hold on to, hydroponic nutrients, pH test kit and water. In this process, you first prepare your water (add nutrients), soak your mat in it, get rid of the excess water and transfer it to a tray. Sprinkle your seeds and dampen the mat with a spray bottle. Cover the seeds, so they’re in darkness. Spray them with water twice a day (every 12 hours) and let them stay covered for five days. After this, take the cover off and place them under a fluorescent light. Now water them with droplets. After 10-12 days, you can cut them off at the base of their stem and start consuming them.
PS: you can store microgreens in your fridge in an airtight bag with moist paper towels.
If you’re new at growing microgreens, it’s a good idea to start with rocket, radish, beetroot, parsley and broccoli microgreens. They’re the easiest ones. Bigbasket has a few plants and gardening material that you can buy online – check them out here.