Microgreens are tiny baby plants that pack a serious punch of nutrition and flavour. If you’ve ever had a fancy dish at a restaurant decorated with delicate little leaves, then you’ve had microgreens. They’re not the same thing as sprouts, and they’re definitely not just a decorative accent. These mini-versions of common edible plants pack up to 40 times the nutritional value of mature plants of the same variety. They also offer a more intense flavour experience than their more mature counterparts.
Microgreens are an excellent way to add a hit of essential vitamins to your diet through the long, wet Powell River winter.
What’s The Difference Between Sprouts And Microgreens?
Sprouts are just germinated seeds, ready to eat in 7-10 days. They don’t require any nutrients or light to grow, and their moist environment with little airflow can be a breeding ground for bacteria. Unless they’re grown properly, cared for impeccably, and washed thoroughly, we run the risk of sprouts making us sick.
Microgreens, by contrast, are baby plants, ready to eat in 10-21 days. They’re grown in soil and benefit from the light, ventilation, and nutrients from their growing environment. They’re harvested once they’ve developed their first set of true leaves, which often happens when they’ve reached 5-8 cm in height. Because they’re grown with ventilation, soil and light, their risk of holding bacteria that could make us sick is drastically lower.
Unfortunately, buying microgreens can be expensive. One tray of microgreens for sale can go for anywhere from $30-$50! Luckily, microgreens are super easy and inexpensive to grow on your own.
How to Grow Microgreens
You’ll need: seeds, soil, a container, a sunny windowsill.
- Get a pack of seeds for any of the vegetables you like. You don’t need a fancy mix; veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, sunflowers, cilantro, chia, and radishes are excellent.
- Get a container; clean seedling trays are the perfect option. If you don’t have any, you can pick them up inexpensively from the garden center.
- Fill it with clean seed starter soil. Starter mix is sterile, so there’s no risk of bacteria, or fungal infections, unhealthy chemicals, or any weeds growing with your greens. Seed starter soil is also available affordably at the garden center. You don’t need a huge bag, just enough to fill your trays.
- Sprinkle the seeds on the soil. Because they won’t grow to full maturity, they can be seeded quite thickly. The seeds shouldn’t be touching each other, but as long as they have a tiny bit of room around them, they’ll be fine. Spread a thin layer of soil over your seeds.
- Water them gently. You can use a spray bottle to water them until the seedlings start to show up. Once the seedlings pop up and get a little stronger, you can use a regular indoor watering can.
- Set them under a full spectrum grow light or on the windowsill. Give them some good light for at least 12 hours per day, and keep the soil moist. You will get better results with a grow light, particularly through the winter. LED grow lights (also available at the garden center) are very affordable to run, and will keep your greens from getting tall and skinny with tiny leaves. Let them grow until they’ve developed a set of true leaves, usually once they’re about 5-10 cm tall.
- Use clean scissors, trim your microgreens off a little bit above the soil, add them to your sandwich or salad, and enjoy!
- You might get a second crop of microgreens from some veggies, so give the tray a bit more water and return them to their spot in the light to see if they’ll come up again.
Our Favourite Microgreens
We pretty much love all microgreens. They’re all full of different essential vitamins and yummy flavours, and they’re an excellent source of antioxidants as well. Here are a few popular Powell River microgreens that are easy to grow and have a significant nutritional payoff.
Broccoli is chock full of Vitamin A, B, C and K, along with plenty of iron, magnesium and phosphorus.
Kale also has lots of vitamins A, B, C, and K.
Peas have several of the B vitamins: niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, B-6 and folate, and are also loaded with iron, phosphorus and magnesium.
Radish greens have plenty of vitamin B and a flavour kick. Daikon radishes, in particular, are delightfully spicy.
Red cabbage contains vitamins C, E, and K.
Cilantro is full of lutein and beta-carotene.
Arugula has lots of calcium and a spicy, peppery flavour.
Swiss Chard is rich in folate, which is important for healthy pregnancies.
Microgreens have the most nutritional value when eaten raw. Cooking them breaks down some of the nutrients, so stick to eating them fresh, or toss them into cooked dishes at the very last second, so they stay pretty crisp.
Microgreens also add a beautiful decorative touch to the presentation of dishes. Get started growing now so you can wow your family and friends with beautifully presented holiday meals full of healthy vitamins.
Ready To Grow Your Own Microgreens?
If you want to try growing your own microgreens, stop by our garden centre for a visit. From seeds to soil, containers and grow lights, we can help you set up your mini microgreen farm. We can also recommend our favourite veggies to start and help you get started adding some fresh flavourful microgreens to your winter meals.