Microgreens sprouting at home
A microgreen is not yet a very competitive, but already profitable business. Its advantages are:
- year-round cultivation; in this, there is no need to equip greenhouses- it is enough to have a closed ventilated room;
- high yields in a small area;
- simple-to-learn technology;
- the rapid development of crops (the harvest is obtained in 2 weeks, which means dozens of cycles per year).
Microgreen doesn't need transplanting, picking, tying, cutting, and other agricultural activities. Watering and fertilizing are automated, and almost no human participation is required.
What's the use of microgreen?
Microgreens are shoots of greens, vegetables, and grain crops in the phase of two leaves. Young shoots have tens of times more vitamins and microelements than fruits and adult plants; at the same time, their caloric value is minimum. Plant shoots retain the taste of the culture, allowing them to be used as exciting spices and diversify your diet.
Due to its high concentration of beneficial organic compounds, microgreen promotes health. Antioxidants contained in young shoots protect against the development of pathological processes in the body. Thanks to them, blood circulation improves, while the level of bad cholesterol and the risks of cardiovascular diseases decrease.
Main types of grown microgreens
One of the benefits of microgreen sprouting is a vast range of crops grown on a home farm from the seeds of species, herbs, grains, vegetables, and legumes. The exception is the nightshade family (peppers, potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant) because their shoots contain harmful toxins. Cucumbers, watermelons, and melons aren't grown as microgreen for another reason - their sprouts are bitter.
Crops that can be grown:
Pink color and a light nutty taste are perfect for smoothie and salads.
It stimulates the appetite and has a good smell of species and a burning taste. It goes well with salads, soups, meat dishes, and omelets.
It doesn't have a pronounced taste, which is why its shoots are used as a vitamin supplement in burgers, smoothie, and soups.
It contains lots of proteins and vitamins. Its bright taste is appropriate in salads and as a separate dish.
It has an astringent taste and is good for salads and soups.
The spicy taste and bright aroma. It is appropriate as an addition to any dish.
It has a distinctive smell and spicy taste of Japanese radish. It goes well with meat and salads.
It contains essential oils, giving a pleasant aroma and taste to salads, gravy, and sauces.
It contains a lot of vitamin C and carotene. It is added to salads.
It has a pungent smell and spicy taste. Coriander is used in salads and meat dishes.
It has a yellow color and a sweet, delicate taste and goes well with salads.
It is a vitamin concentrate for salads and soups.
Its shoots are crispy and taste like green peas. It is suitable for soups, salads, and fish.
It is a wealth of micro elements and vitamins. It is added to salads, cocktails, and soups.
Red juicy leaves will add brightness and taste to salads and side dishes.
In addition to the crops mentioned above, people also grow soybeans, lentils, chives, cress, spinach, dock leaves, and other plants.
Features of the technology of microgreen sprouting
According to the specialists' experience, internal resources, and a small amount of moisture are enough for the development of sprouts. Therefore, there are no special requirements for the environment. Still, each plant has its own preferences in terms of temperature and humidity level, degree of illumination, and feeding frequency. To achieve success, you will have to get acquainted with the nuances of their cultivation, using experienced farmers' recommendations, or test the conditions yourself.
General rules for all crops:
- Keep the humidity level at 65–70 %, and the air temperature — at 18–22 °С;
- for the first 3 days, keep the seeds in the dark in a closed container, and open them after germination;
- when sprouts arise, turn on the lamps every day for 14 hours;
- devote 15 minutes daily to disinfecting the structure with ultraviolet light;
- spray the sprouts from a spray bottle 3 times a day;
- ventilate the room regularly.
There are several technologies for microgreen sprouting:
In the ground:
Seeds are planted in pre-disinfected peat or a mixture of sand and earth. The substrate is distributed among the containers in a layer of 3-5 cm. High planting density explains fast nutrient consumption, which is why the substrate is changed every month.
In the sawdust:
It is more convenient to grow shoots without soil; they don't get dirty, and the risk of infections decreases. You should take a small last year's fillings. They don't retain water well, so frequent watering is required.
On cotton or gauze:
The bottom of the containers is covered with a layer of 1-2 cm. Materials dry quickly, so constant watering and a cover on the top are necessary.
In a jar:
It is a good way for those who don't know where to begin: this way, microgreen is grown very quickly. Seeds are poured into a jar with water, and once they germinate, they are washed and placed back, but without water. Then the jar is covered with gauze and laid on the side.
Different substrates are used for this- rock wool, jute or coconut fiber, and perlite. Seeds are spread on the surface of the chosen material, while the nutrient solution circulation system is provided for irrigation.
The substance retains water well. At first, it is put in a liquid for swelling and then used to fill the trays. Seeds are simply poured on top or slightly sprinkled with hydrogel.
What kind of equipment do you need for microgreen sprouting?
Equipment for microgreen sprouting at home can be purchased or made with your own hands. It is more convenient to use the ready-made multi-layered devices for sprouting microgreens on hydroponics.
The list of the necessary equipment (apart from the mini-farm itself) includes:
- ventilation system;
- germicidal lamp;
- jute rug;
- thermo hygrometer;
- three-compartment sink;
- solution analyzer;
- cooling chamber and refrigerator;
- trade and laboratory scales;
- gloves and overalls;
- instruments (sieve, scissors, spray, secateurs, etc.)
Recommendations on how to use it correctly
Microgreen can be consumed separately and used for serving your culinary masterpieces. In addition, healthy greens are added to smoothies, and different vitamin shakes. The principle of its use is the same as that of the other green crops and vegetables: fresh, in the salads, and for preparing sauces without heat treatment. Healthy leaves are often used to decorate seafood and meat dishes.
Dietologist's recommendations boil down to two main points:
- The fresher the greens, the more useful microelements, vitamins, and minerals it contains. Almost immediately after the harvest, their content reduces, and during continuous storage, the vitamins are destroyed, and the taste of greens becomes less rich. Therefore, it is advisable to cut sprouts with leaves immediately before eating.
- Thermal (and any other) treatment of microgreen is contraindicated. If you fry or boil the leaves, they will turn into a green mass, which will not be useful. Marinating, freezing, salting, and preserving the sprouts is also meaningless. Only a fresh crop provides the benefits as mentioned above. Otherwise, it makes no sense to grow crops.
The taste of microgreens is recognizable, typical for the corresponding crops. Thus, the sprouts and leaves of radish taste like young radish, while the mustard greens have familiar spicy-piquant notes.
Follow these cultivation tips to get tasty and healthy dishes at home!