It’s no secret that there is a global shift taking place towards a healthier way of life, the goal being to take in as much nutrition as possible in the easiest way possible.
This is where growing microgreens in your kitchen comes in. You may have seen microgreens on the shelves in supermarkets – some are harvested and packed, some are even sold in their growing trays for utmost freshness.
They are the tiny little leafy sprout looking things; the ones that will make your salad or veggie wrap look super sophisticated.
What are microgreens?
Seedlings grown to their first or second stage leaves, growing no taller than about 7.5cm – 10cm, they can be considered adolescent vegetable greens, harvested before they reach maturity.
Microgreens have a growing cycle of anything between 7 and 21 days and are harvested once the little plants’ first leaves have emerged.
They are similar to baby greens in that only their stems and leaves are edible. Unlike sprouts, they are usually grown in soil and only the visible part of the plant is harvested for consumption.
Types of microgreens
There are several different types of microgreens that can be grown:
- Asteraceae family: endive, radicchio, lettuce
- Apiaceae family: dill, fennel, celery, carrot
- Amaranthaceae family: amaranth, quinoa, swiss chard, beetroot, spinach
- Amarullidaceae family: garlic, onion, leek
- Brassicaceae family: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress, radish, arugula
- Cucurbitaceae family: melon, squash, cucumber
Benefits of microgreens
Although their nutrient content varies depending on the type of plant, they all contain an exceptionally high concentration of nutrients.
In fact, they contain up to nine times more nutrients than their fully developed versions.
They are rich in minerals like iron, zinc, magnesium and potassium. In addition, they are a great source of antioxidants.
Their vitamin and antioxidant contents have shown to be about 40 times higher than those of their mature counterparts.
Therefore, it’s safe to say that including microgreens in your daily diet can have significant health benefits, whether it be in your salads, smoothies, soups, sandwiches, wraps, pizzas or green juices.
How to grow microgreens in your kitchen
Growing microgreens in your kitchen is extremely easy and equally rewarding. Once you have mastered the technique, you can create a cycle of growing so that you have a constant supply of microgreens at your disposal.
Here is a simple guide on how to grow microgreens:
Firstly, you will need the following supplies:
- A shallow tray with adequate draining
- A bottom tray for bottom watering and to catch drained water
- Spray bottle
- Peat moss (Grow medium)
- A sunny windowsill
- Microgreen seeds
- Purchase a good brand of fine peat moss – make sure it has a PH level of 5.5 – 6.5. Fill your seedling trays with the peat moss. Level the peat moss to ensure the seeds can spread out evenly.
- Spread the seeds across the soil. Be careful not to completely cover the soil in seeds – a high density of growth can lead to airflow being inhibited once they germinate.
- Using filtered water, mist the seeds with the spray bottle and cover with a plastic lid in a dark area for 3 -4 days to ensure good germination. You can mist the trays up to 3 times a day during germination.
- Once the seeds have germinated, you can remove the plastic lid. Then place the tray in a windowsill that receives a lot of sun. Continue misting with a spray bottle when needed. Do not overwater, this can lead to waterlogged grow medium which can result in disease.
- If the growth is too dense for the mist to reach the soil, you can switch to bottom watering by simply pouring water into the bottom tray. This allows the soil to take up as much water as it needs through the drainage holes in the grow tray.
- Make sure to rotate your tray at regular intervals, ensuring that all of the greens receive the same amount of sun – this will prevent them from leaning too much in one direction.
- Harvest your microgreens and enjoy.
When to harvest microgreens
These little plants are ready to harvest when they have developed cotyledons, which are known as the embryonic leaf found in seed-bearing plants.
These are the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed.
Harvesting time varies depending on what type of plant is growing. However, you can experiment with harvesting at different stages of growth, which will offer different taste variations.
Although you can store harvested microgreens in the fridge for up to 3 days, they are best eaten straight after harvesting.
Therefore, it’s a good idea to harvest or grow only the amount of microgreens you will need for your meal.
Also, by planting a new tray every week, you can ensure you have a constant supply of fresh microgreens all year long.
Bocadillos – Restaurants in Port Elizabeth
The chefs at Bocadillos love the idea of growing microgreens in your kitchen. We believe in living a healthy, nutritional life (with a bit of guilt-free indulgence here and there, of course).
To find out about the nutritious options on our menu, or to make a booking, contact us.