HOW TO GROW MICROGREENS AND SPROUTS
But first, what exactly are microgreens?
As the name suggests, microgreens are just miniature plants of greens, herbs, or other vegetables. Like sprouts, they are a concentrated nutrient source and packed with beneficial enzymes because of their rapid growth. That’s exactly why knowing how to grow microgreens and sprouts can be such a boon for your diet.
Restaurants love to use micro greens because of their delicate flavor and sophisticated presentation. But fancy, they are not.
Microgreens and sprouts are simple to grow and cost very little once you have the supplies. With the right tools, you can have a year-round vegetable source on your kitchen counter.
Microgreens also solve the problem of the potential for bacteria growth in sprouts. (though rare) And that’s because they’re grown in an open-air environment and in soil. Unlike sprouts, only the stem and leaves are eaten, not the seed and root.
But, having said that, sprouts that are thoroughly rinsed several times a day and harvested promptly have an extremely low chance of being contaminated by bacteria.
WHAT SEEDS ARE GOOD FOR SPROUTING?
Now let me start by saying that you shouldn’t run out to the garden center just yet. Seeds for sprouting are different than those that are packaged for planting and growing in your garden. Many garden seeds are treated with fungicides, making them unsuitable for growing microgreens or sprouts.
You must be careful to purchase seeds that are labeled specifically for sprouting. They can be found in organic grocery stores, some garden centers, health food stores and of course, on the internet.
THE MIX IN THE SPROUTER ABOVE IS: Blue French, Red and Green Lentils
Did you know all these seeds make fabulous sprouts and microgreens? They sure do!
- Mung beans
- Sunflower seeds (my personal favorite!)
- Alfalfa seeds
- Leaf lettuces
- Pumpkin seeds
- Radish (a spring salad favorite)
- Mustard (tiny, but they pack a powerful punch!)
- Green, Red and French Blue Lentils
- Onion (try them, they’re delicious)
Growing microgreens and sprouts is lots of fun, and easy too. I tend to grow them during the winter months here in Western North Carolina. It can get grey and grim on our mountain, so having a “kitchen garden” can be quite uplifting. Dreary winter days – BE GONE! (I try to stay positive!)
COOKING WITH MICROGREENS AND SPROUTS – More than just a salad ingredient
I’m going to inspire you to try your hand at growing your own microgreens this season!
First up, Why not serve Spring Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche as the starter for your Easter or Mother’s Day Luncheon?
This delicious and easy recipe is so simple and can be made the day before you serve it. How stress-free is that?
Spring Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche is bursting with the flavors of Spring, and is such a lovely shade of green!
Don’t worry, Creme Fraiche is super simple to make yourself!
Garnished with your home-grown pea shoots, bacon and creme fraiche, it’s as fabulous tasting as it is gorgeous!
GET THE RECIPE HERE: Spring Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche
Secondly, look at how pretty your salads can be when you throw microgreens and sprouts into the mix!
A combination of sprouts is a great substitute for traditional greens in your Spring salads. They lend a nutty taste and crunch to salads that lettuce and greens just can’t.
But don’t think that salads are the only way you can use your sprouts.
Sturdy sprouts like mung beans and lentils are perfect for stir-frying. And in your grain-bowls too.
Or how about a mix of radish, cress and alfalfa sprouts on your sandwiches instead of boring old lettuce? They provide an excellent crunch factor and lots more flavor too.
What about throwing a combo of more delicate sprouts in your juicer? They pack a powerful nutritional punch when added to your smoothies or protein drinks.
It’s really worth it to grow microgreens and sprouts just for the extra nutrition they lend to your Winter diet.
HERE’S WHAT YOU’LL NEED TO KNOW TO GROW YOUR OWN MICROGREENS
HOW TO GROW PEA SHOOTS AT HOME
- SOAK ‘EM – soak the peas, completely covered in water for 24 hours (dried peas from the grocery store usually work fine)
- CHOOSE YOUR CONTAINER – Choose a container about 2- 3 inches deep. I usually hang onto any plastic frozen food trays and use them, as you can see in the pictures. Just make sure to poke some holes in the bottom to allow water to drain out. Your empty clementine boxes work well too. Or, you can always purchase some at your local garden center.
- ADD SOIL AND MOISTEN – Fill your container with starter soil or compost, leaving about 1/2 to 3/4 inch head-space. For best results, purchase premium starter soil or compost. Despite pea shoots not being too finicky, using high quality soil makes for a good crop. Then give the soil a good watering, ensuring that the soil is moist from top to bottom.
The pea shoots pictured here are just 4 days old!
- SOW YOUR PEAS – Place the peas on the surface of the soil, then press lightly into the dirt. You can sow them very closely together, leaving a gap the size of a pea between each seed.
- COVER THE SEEDS – Cover the seeds with a layer of soil, about 1/2 inch deep. Lightly mist the surface of the soil again.
- GIVE THEM A DAILY WATERING CHECK – Mist the surface of the soil until completely moistened, making sure to get the corners and edges too.
- HARVEST AND ENJOY YOUR “CROP” – In two to three weeks (a bit longer in cold weather) your crop will have grown 3 – 4 inches tall. YOUR PEA SHOOTS ARE NOW READY TO EAT! If you want to grow them a bit longer, just give them a few more days of growth. (I like mine about 5-6 inches long)
Harvest by pinching off each shoot just above the bottom leaves. (NEVER EAT THE ROOTS OR SEEDS- THEY CAN MAKE YOU ILL)
DO MICROGREENS RE-GROW AFTER CUTTING?
No, most microgreens do not regrow.
But, if there is at least one healthy leaf left, the microgreen can still survive and regrow. That’s because the seedling will still create photosynthesis with sunlight. However, the growth rate would be much slower than before and often result in stunted growth.
In addition, the second-harvest of microgreens will have a slightly different taste as well. That’s why most commercial growers would rather just throw them away and start fresh with a new crop.
DO SOME SEEDS RE-GROW BETTER THAN OTHERS?
That being said, some pea-type microgreens do have a higher chance to regrow. Here’s a short list of a few types that can give you a second, but significantly smaller harvest:
- Green peas
- Speckled Peas
- Fava Beans
- Sugar Snap Peas
- Snow Peas
- Field Peas
In other cases, you might also be mistaking some late-sprouting seeds as “regrowth”. Either way, it’s probably not worth trying for a second harvest, but that’s completely up to you.
YOU NOW KNOW HOW TO GROW MICROGREENS AND SPROUTS LIKE AN EXPERT!
NOW, you can head over to the garden center or health food store and buy some of your favorite seeds! You’ve got all the information and know-how to grow microgreens and sprouts right in your own kitchen.
So start rummaging around for some suitable “sprouting” containers, get some soil and seeds, and you’re ready to start SPROUTING!
If you’ve got any questions on how to grow microgreens and sprouts, please use the COMMENT SECTION BELOW THIS POST. I’m always happy to answer my reader’s questions!
When your microgreens or sprouts are “picture ready”, how about posting them over at The Fab Life? We’d all love to see your GREEN THUMB in action!
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