Growing Microgreens

Remember the little bean or mealie you had to grow in primary school – probably your first attempt at germination and keeping something alive?  Well, unbeknown to you, it was also your first, hopefully successful, try at growing microgreens.  You were way ahead of your time!

Microgreens are the very first leaves of a whole lot of densely grown seedlings, so all the goodness, vitamins and minerals contained in that little seed, is packed into this first little sprout.  The taste of the microgreens is also very intense and identical to that of the adult plant so you can still have the taste of your avo and rocket sandwich or your tomato and basil salad even if it’s out of season – all you need is a bright or sunny windowsill, the right container and your choice of seed.

Choose your style

As far as method goes, growing microgreens can be either soil-based or water-based.  We put both methods to the test and found that as far as growth speed and taste goes, there is really little difference.  The water-based method, however, is easier and cleaner and the container has a lot of depth for roots to develop and can be cleaned and re-used.

The common denominator in whatever method you choose to grow your microgreens is, of course, the seed of your choice and this is where you can experiment and try out any, obviously edible, seed that you like.  We decided on the following:

Since writing this blog, Starke Ayres has launched a brand new Microgreen Seed range with many delectably scrumptious herbs and vegetables to add to your list of choices – have fun! Here is a link to our blog all about Starke Ayres, and their delicious new range is mentioned there!

Water-based Microgreens

For this method we chose a dedicated microgreen box. All you need is water, seed and a spot indoors with bright light!

Fill the reservoir with clean water to just below the inserts. Spread a single layer of seeds on the surface of the inserts. (Larger seeds, like the radish, can be soaked for 6-12 hours before sowing.) Replace the inserts and gently spray the seeds with a spray bottle or mister.

Check the water level and fill up when needed. Replace with clean water every second day. If the air is very dry, you can also gently mist the seeds. After 4-6 days the seeds will start germinating.

You should be able to start harvesting your microgreens 10 – 14 days after germination, when they have 4 true leaves and are about 6cm high. Some seeds take longer to reach this height, so don’t give up on them. Harvest by cutting with sharp scissors or a knife just above the plastic insertion. Once you have harvested one section, clean and start your next batch. Easy as pie!

Soil-based Microgreens

The principle and method is basically the same as with water-based microgreens, except that, of course, you will be using a growth medium and you will need a pot or container that offers excellent drainage. We opted for a seed tray with sufficient drainage holes and used ready-to-use germination or propagation mix, because it is well-drained and provides the perfect conditions for seeds to send out their little roots with ease.

Fill the tray to about 1cm beneath the rim with the germination mix, pat down lightly and thoroughly moisten the soil. Once again, larger seeds can be soaked beforehand to speed up germination. Sprinkle the seed evenly onto the mix and cover very lightly. Spray with a very gentle mist sprayer. Place in a position with plenty of bright light.

Check your microgreens daily and keep them moist by spraying, but not waterlogged as this can result in mould. Because we used three different kinds of seed, germination was staggered and we were able to harvest at different times. You can also set up successive trays for a continuous harvest. It is best to replace the soil every time.

Once your microgreens have reached the desired height, snip away at the base and enjoy on your soups, stews, salads, sarmies, omelets or simply as a healthy, energy-boosting snack. Growing and eating your own healthy food really does come naturally!

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