What is microgreen and which cultivars are suitable for forcing? Methods for growing microgreens at home. Features and helpful tips.
Microgreens are young shoots of vegetables, legumes, cereals and herbs in the stage of formation of 1-2 leaves, containing a maximum of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. The product is not only extremely healthy, but also has a very delicate taste. Therefore, microgreen quickly gained popularity in cooking and healthy eating, and its cultivation became one of the new trends in agriculture. But you can also grow microgreens at home.
What are microgreens?
Microgreen is young shoots with 1-2 leaves, which have a height of 5-15 cm. The crop is cut, as a rule, 5-12 days after sowing the seeds when the cotyledons are thrown out, depending on the type and variety of the crop.
At this stage of plant development, the concentration of nutrients (vitamins, minerals, amino acids) in it reaches its climax, which is why the product gained great popularity and became a global culinary trend, although initially miniature greens were used exclusively for decorating ready-made dishes.
For the first time, chefs in San Francisco began to add microgreens to dishes in the early eighties of the last century, and in the mid-nineties, fashion covered Southern California. Then there was a small set of microgreens. They grew beets, coriander, arugula, basil. Today, dozens of cultures are available for distillation, on the basis of which salads, soups, as well as various drinks - smoothies, cocktails are prepared. Microgreen is also used as a spice, seasoning for sandwiches, meat and even in the preparation of desserts.
The increased concentration of nutrients in miniature greens is due to the fact that the plant is at the start of active development, when the maximum use of the supply of nutrients contained in the seed occurs. Thanks to the use of microgreen, you can replenish the energy supply, saturate the body with vitamins and minerals.
Sometimes microgreen is confused with sprouts, which is also a very useful product. However, in the first case, we are talking about the stage of crop growth, when the plant already has two leaves, and in the second, exclusively about germinated seeds with a released root.
Microgreens are eaten by cutting off the stem, and the roots, as well as the seeds, remain in the substrate, but the seedlings can be eaten completely, with seeds. In addition, the taste also differs: microgreen is a more delicate, piquant product.
Thanks to the active use of seed nutrients, microgreens grow without any fertilizers or stimulants. It is this fact that will make it possible to call microgreen an ecologically clean, organic food product.
The main types of microgreens
There are many varieties of miniature greens: these are sprouts of vegetable and cereal plants, legumes, lettuce and herbs.
The most popular ones are:
- Cilantro … Greens with a specific aroma and piquant taste, containing many vitamins and minerals. Coriander is good for food to support the cardiovascular system.
- Beet … Microgreen, which has a tonic effect. It has a positive effect on digestion processes, strengthens the immune system. Well suited for salad and main course recipes.
- Arugula … Greens have a bitter taste, which allows them to be used as an ingredient in meat and fish dishes. Ascorbic acid and flavonoids are in the lead in terms of quantitative content. With regular use, the plant helps to strengthen the immune system.
- Sunflower … Due to its pleasant sweetish taste, microgreens are considered a popular ingredient in salads, first and second courses. Contains proteins, fats, also contains vitamin A and lecithin. Thanks to numerous useful substances, sunflower microgreen stabilizes the acid-base balance, inhibits aging.
- Red cabbage … A large amount of ascorbic acid is found in the composition of greens, and carotene is also present. The plant, when eaten regularly, helps to strengthen the immune system and normalize digestion.
- Chives … Thin blades of grass have a mild onion flavor and are considered an ideal ingredient in snacks. Due to its composition, microgreens are capable of destroying bacteria.
- Radish … Sprouts have a pungent taste, add piquancy to dishes, and are used in salads and meat. There are many vitamins and minerals in radish shoots, microgreen is able to establish digestion processes, and it also has decongestant properties.
- Peas … Due to its sweetish taste and crispy structure, the sprouts are used in the preparation of sandwiches and salads. Miniature greens are rich in protein and vitamins, and they are also high in fiber.
- Daikon … Japanese radish sprouts contain a lot of sulfur: this nutrient strengthens the body as a whole. They have a tangy taste and are widely used in soups.
- Watercress … Microgreen contains B vitamins and carotene. It also contains a lot of iron and magnesium. The spicy taste and aroma determines the use of cress microgreens: it is added to salads and side dishes, and is used in the preparation of sauces.
- Mitsuna … The microgreen of Japanese mustard is known for its nutritional value, it is able to cleanse blood vessels, and is responsible for normalizing the regulation of water balance in the body. Fragrant leaves are a great ingredient for salads and sandwiches.
- Basil … B vitamins, ascorbic acid and carotene are found in the composition of microgreens. The sprouts are also rich in essential oils. Basil shoots are useful for normalizing digestion processes, for stomach problems. They perfectly complement many dishes, but omelet and cottage cheese are especially successful with the participation of basil microgreen.
- Soy … The sprouts contain B vitamins and a large amount of ascorbic acid. They also contain numerous amino acids and iron. Soy microgreens normalizes cholesterol, has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system. Sprouts are best paired with side dishes and meat-based dishes.
- Amaranth … Tasteful miniature greens with a nutty aftertaste. It contains many vitamins necessary for the body, so this microgreen is actively used in the preparation of various vitamin smoothies.
- Alfalfa … It contains a large amount of iron, so its use is recommended for people who lack this mineral in their bodies. Also in the composition there is a lot of magnesium and calcium, there are numerous vitamins - K, A, E, ascorbic acid. Alfalfa microgreen goes well with fish, eggs, and is used in the preparation of various salads and snacks.
- Lentils … Miniature greens have a unique composition, they contain a lot of magnesium, iron, ascorbic acid. Its use is recommended to stimulate blood circulation and cleanse blood vessels. Lentil microgreen is often used in the preparation of hot and cold dishes.
- Corn … Microgreens have a pleasant sweet taste. And thanks to the bright yellow hue, young sprouts will decorate any dish. It has a beneficial effect on the body due to the content of numerous vitamins and minerals. It is an ideal ingredient for preparing salads and appetizers.
- Spinach … Spicy greens containing a lot of proteins and fats. There are also many vitamins in the composition. Microgreen is valued for its ability to normalize blood circulation and lower cholesterol levels. With regular use, you can count on the elimination of toxins. Young spinach plants are a great addition to side dishes, salads and gravy.
- Mustard … This green is known for its zesty, pungent flavor that whets the appetite. It is useful for cleaning the walls of blood vessels and stimulating blood circulation. Its peppery flavor makes it an ideal complement to fish dishes and salads.
- Sorrel … The plant is valued for its sour taste, which resembles a lemon, and miniature greens differ in similar qualities. It contains many minerals and vitamins. Regular consumption helps to strengthen the immune system. Sorrel microgreen is a great ingredient in recipes for egg dishes, sauces and salads. It goes well with cheeses.
- Clover … Miniature greens contain proteins, minerals and numerous vitamins - A, B group, ascorbic acid. Regular use of microgreen helps to cleanse the blood, eliminate toxins and toxins. It is customary to add young sprouts to salads and gravies.
In addition, for salads, you can plant microgreens of rutabagas, quinoa, flax, buckwheat, parsley, dill, onions and garlic. For the preparation of vitamin juices, microgreens of barley, oats and wheat are used. Also popular are sprouts of sesame, Swiss chard, different varieties of onions.
The seeds of plants of the Solanaceae family, which include tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and potatoes, are not suitable for growing microgreens. Their sprouts contain toxic substances and are poisonous. The use of it causes a disorder of the digestive system and a malfunction of the nervous system. Pumpkin sprouts (watermelon, cucumber, melon, pumpkin) taste bitter.
Note! Eating microgreens is especially beneficial in winter and spring. At this time of the year, there is an acute shortage of vitamins and minerals.
Features of growing microgreens
Microgreens are easy to grow not only on plantations, but also at home. Even a novice gardener will cope with the task. It is much easier to grow complete plants.
Microgreen develops at the expense of its own reserves, which are accumulated in the seeds, without requiring the introduction of fertilizers and top dressing. After 5-12 days, depending on the crop you are sprouting, you can cut the crop. Agronomists say that there is actually a technology for forcing microgreens.
Microgreen is undemanding to environmental conditions. You don't need a lot of light and heat, the containers don't take up much space: you can grow microgreens at home right on the windowsill. Plants are also suitable for cultivation in low light conditions, in indirect natural light and even in complete darkness.
Supplementation is not suitable for all crops, but it is necessary if you grow microgreens in several tiers or plan to harvest by a certain date, for example, when forcing a microgreen for sale.
Miniature plants feel great even in winter - you can grow microgreens on the windowsill, just choose windows facing south or east for this.
Since microgreen grows quickly, most diseases that affect mature plants do not have time to develop before harvesting. Also, the sprouts are not threatened by pests, from the invasion of which mature crops suffer.
The biggest challenge in growing is choosing the right seeds for microgreening. High demands are placed on them. They should not be pickled with toxic substances, pesticides, herbicides. It is important to pay attention to the fact that imported seeds are most often only pickled.
Buy seed with high germination rate. If the seeds are of high quality, you can even take those whose expiration date will soon expire.
You can grow microgreens yourself in 5-12 days, the speed of forcing depends on the type of seed you are using. Miniature plants will usually be 10 cm tall. But microgreen growth can be accelerated. To do this, large hard seeds can be pre-soaked in warm water, keeping for 4-8 hours. Small seeds are not soaked.
Note! Choose the right time for cutting microgreens. If the plants are overexposed, they will turn yellow and wither.
Microgreen growing methods
Microgreens can be grown at home using several methods: in the ground, hydroponically, without soil. Let's consider each method in detail.
Growing microgreens in hydroponics
Prepare growing containers before planting microgreens. The easiest way is to buy special germinators in the store for obtaining sprouts in hydroponics, which are plastic containers with a small height and a removable mesh located inside.
Instead of using a purchased germinator, a structure for planting microgreens can be made by hand. To do this, prepare any convenient container where you want to put the mesh. It is best to use food grade plastic trays.
Technology for growing microgreens using a hydroponic method:
- Prepare seeds for microgreen growing.
- Spread the seed evenly onto the screen.
- Pour water into the pan so that its level reaches the grid.
- Close the sprout using the clear cover.
- Until seeds for growing microgreens have germinated, keep the structure in a warm, dark place.
- As soon as the first shoots appear, move the containers to the light and start caring for the plants.
Young shoots appear quickly. Microgreens at home in hydroponics are grown at room temperature. It is recommended to regularly change the water. For ventilation and oxygen enrichment, open the lid slightly to allow air access. If you use a store sprout for distilling microgreen, there is no need to ventilate: a special pump can handle this.
Turn the container for growing microgreens regularly with different sides to the window. Otherwise, phototropism can be encountered when the plants turn towards the light.
To harvest, carefully cut off the stems when two leaves emerge using sharp scissors. After collecting the first batch, discard the roots, and you can start re-growing microgreens at home and a new sowing.
After the full use of the first batch of sprouts, the roots should be removed and discarded, the container should be rinsed, and a new sowing can be started.
Growing microgreens in soil
Prepare the microgreening substrate before forcing the plants. You can use any soil that is in the store - for vegetables, seedlings. Do not use soil for orchids and cacti: it is not suitable for this business.
It is better to take a neutral reaction substrate for growing microgreens at home. The layer thickness should be 1-1.5 cm.
In order to grow microgreens at home, different containers are suitable. When forcing plants in the ground, a net is not needed.
Technology for growing microgreens at home in the ground:
- After preparing the container for distilling the microgreen, add soil to the bottom.
- Moisten the soil using a sprayer.
- Sow seeds over the entire area of the container on a substrate for growing microgreens. They should not fit very tightly.
- Press down on top of the seed with your palm and add a small layer of soil. Make sure that it does not reach the edges of the container: the shoots will rest on the walls as they grow.
- Compact the soil to ensure the best seed-to-soil contact.
- Spray the soil with water using a spray bottle.
- Close the container using the transparent lid. You can also take a film or an ordinary plastic bag with a low density for this purpose.
- Place the microgreen distillation container on the tray.
- Until you see the first microgreens in the ground, keep the container in a warm, dark place.
- After the shoots appear, namely after 2-3 days, move the container with miniature plants to the light.
The conditions for growing microgreens in the soil are room temperature and watering as needed when the soil dries up. For this, it is recommended to use a sprayer, this way you can prevent the seeds from washing out to the surface.
For harvesting, the sprouts are cut above the ground level using sharp scissors. To extend the period for collecting greens, cut off the leaves selectively, leave small ones for the next time.
Note! The soil for growing microgreens in this way can be used repeatedly without additional fertilizing and fertilization.
Growing microgreens without land
You can grow microgreens without land and any devices by building a mini-greenhouse or greenhouse. To equip the structure, you will need any container: it is convenient to use a plate. It should be covered with a bag without fail.
Technology for growing microgreens without land:
- Place two layers of paper tea towel at the bottom of the plate. The perforated side should be facing up. Also, loose fabric (cotton, flax, gauze) is used for germinating seeds. You can do with cotton and bandages.
- Whatever material you use, dampen each layer with hot water.
- Top with seeds for growing microgreens on a windowsill without soil.
- Further, using a syringe, you should moisten the seeds, also with hot water.
- As in the previous cases, the structure is covered with a transparent lid or polyethylene to maintain the moisture level.
- Once the seeds have sprouted, move the plate to the light.
- Spray the "soil" as it dries using a spray bottle.
Note! The first crop can be cut 6-10 after the seeds have been planted.
How to grow microgreens - watch the video: