The history of microgreens begins from the 1980s; this was the time when microgreens were first served in restaurants. Microgreens are used as a nutrition supplement. It adds visual enhancement and flavour texture. Microgreens are smaller than baby Greens and are consumed just after sprouting. Microgreens are comfortably used in garnishing salads, soups sandwiches etc. Microgreens are widely used in Big restaurants along with starters. Microgreens are used in different ways in different cultures; some use them as garnish and some use microgreens as main ingredients. Micro grains are more popular and stones and are used as microgreen garlic pea shoots, pea shoots, micro cabbage in cabbage soup or coleslaw. Earlier there were few varieties of microgreens available such as Arugula, Basil, Beets, Kale, Cilantro and mixtures of these varieties were called “Rainbow mix”. Today, microgreens are mostly grown in the United States with more varieties.
Young greens are produced from various kinds of vegetables, herbs or other plants. Microgreens are tiny plants that range between 1 to 3 inches including the stem and leaves. While harvesting you should cut the stem above the soil line Microgreen contains fully developed cotyledon leaves and some partially developed to leaves.
- Microgreen plants are consist of three basic parts
- Central stem, Cotyledon leaf, true leaves
They vary in size according to the variety; the typical size of a microgreen plant is 1 to 1.5 inches. The plants which grow above the height are known as petite green. Microgreen plants can be harvested after 10-14 days from seeding. There are some slow growing microgreen varieties that take 16 to 25 days to get ready for harvesting such as beets, chard and various herbs. Generally, microgreens are consumed with entire plants including root, seed and shoots depending on the variety. There are two marketing terms used: “baby greens” and “microgreens”.
Growing microgreens is easier but you can face some problems at the same time. Fungus is the basic problem found in microgreens. Growing high-quality microgreens commercially is much more difficult and one has to face challenges. Microgreens are more popular among backyard farmers
Plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers should not be grown as microgreens because the sprouts of these plants are poisonous; they contain toxic alkaloids such as solanine and tropanes hence consuming these sprouts can cause adverse symptoms in digestive and nervous system.
According to USDA Agricultural Research Centre 25 varieties were tested and key nutrients were found are ascorbic acid (vitamin C) tocopherols (vitamin E), phylloquinone (vitamin K) and beta carotene (vitamin A). Red cabbage, cilantro, garnet amaranth and green daikon radish are some of the greens that contain the highest concentrations.
Microgreen contains 40 times more nutrition including vitamin C. K and E in comparison of fully grown leaves.
How to grow microgreens
Microgreens require fresh air and good sunlight with less humidity and atmosphere Microgreen seed planting density should be less. Most varieties of microgreen crop grow within a week or two weeks but some varieties need time to get ready for harvest; they might take around 3-4 weeks. Harvesting of microgreens is done with scissors cutting them just above the soil surface. You can check cotyledons expansion before starting microgreen harvesting if cotyledons are expanded well then they are ready to harvest. It is seen that some microgreen growers sell microgreens while growing in trays to be cut later for fresh microgreen ingredients.
- Microgreen is one of the low investment farming that requires less space and less money
- Microgreen needs good maintenance and regular check up for producing good results
- Nitrogen content soil is filled in the trays and beds are prepared then soil is pressed using cardboard and compacted.
- You can soak some seeds in the water for required water content and sprinkle the seeds on the top of the soil
- It is recommended not to use paper towels it might cause fungal disease. Instead you should use container with lid.
- 11 to 16 hours of sunlight is necessary for the seeds for fast germination.
- Microgreens grow at the height of 1.5 to 2 inches and you can harvest them with the help of a sharp knife or scissor. You should cut the stem just over the soil.
Materials required for microgreen farming
Organic seeds spray bottle tray organic soil with nitrogen content paper towel or thin cloth
Equipment's required for large scale microgreens farming
Greenhouse or hoop houses are basically used for commercial microgreen farming. Hoop house is cheaper to install and can be constructed with recycled materials. Solar heaters a good option for houses during the cold season
Heating mats - heating mats can easily reduce the cost of hoop houses in microgreen farming. The mats are connected with a hot fluid circulating system. Glycol fluid is used as a heating fluid.
Regular water supply is necessary and microgreen farming Water is necessary to maintain the water level of soil
Ventilation is necessary to adjust the atmosphere. The four large fans are installed In microgreen farming to prevent the fungus. Especially in the winter season microgreen plants can be affected by fungus and here the role of ventilation fans comes into place. These pens are also useful in hot seasons for cooling the temperature of the microgreen growing area.
Packaging and refrigerator also plays an important role in microgreens farming while talking about packaging you should select micro perforated food bags it contains heat sealer as well these bags keeps microgreens fresh for long time. Refrigerators can be used as microgreen stores they prevent microgreen from wilting. One can start with a normal household refrigerator for storing microgreens and later can invest in big refrigerators while commercial level farming.
Benefits of microgreens farming
- Microgreen farming is time-saving farming and microgreens takes only two weeks to get ready for harvesting
- Less money and endless space is required to start microgreens farming.
- Microgreen farming as good option for those people who lives in urban area and don't have good space for gardening
- A person who is interested in agriculture and wants to gain experience can start with microgreen farming. It also produces results in only 14 days.
- The basic need for micro Green Farm as a very simple one just needs trays, table, water, good sunlight and microgreen seeds.
- microgreens are used throughout the year and they are commonly used in salads garnishing and sandwiches. Microgreens can be grown throughout the year in any climate conditions.
- Microgreens gives you an opportunity to grow the crops as a kitchen garden. It hardly needs any space and can easily be grown in kitchens as well.
- Microgreens can be grown several times and they contain lots of varieties.
Common varieties of microgreen are
Various seeds grown in microgreen farming
What do microgreens taste like
Microgreens have a specific taste such as fenugreek microgreen is bitter in taste, mustard microgreen are spicy and radish microgreen tastes like radish. Microgreens are scientifically proven to have good health benefits.
How to grow microgreens at home
one can easily grow microgreens at home even in kitchens. Two substrates are required to grow microgreens coco peat and ordinary soil. First take some coco peat in a small container if it is dry then add some water to it. It will be better if your container has drainage holes then mix it with the soil.
How to grow mustard microgreens in containers / tray
You can use mustard from your kitchen. Sprinkler on the top of the soil and bury them about 1-2 cm into the soil. Don't bury the seeds very deep that are smaller in size like mustard. Whereas growing moong dal you should bury it an inch deep due to the bigger in size. Water it and put a lid over it. Remember the lid plays a crucial role here and it can reduce your effort of watering due to the moisture created after putting the lid over a container.
You should open the lid only when the leaves start coming out however you may check it in between for a few times. You should open the lid after 3 to 4 days .Fenugreek as one of the biggest growing microgreen where is pulses my take long time in comparison of fenugreek. Speed of microgreen depends on the size of the seed. Small seeds Such as mustard and fenugreek grow fast in comparison to big seeds like moong dal.
Once they are germinated you should wait for 2 to 3 days, meaning when you see the first set of leaves coming out, wait for 2 to 3 days so they gather all the nutrients that we are interested in and then harvest them. Once you harvest them you cannot use them again because they are not going to grow back. This is one of the reasons growing microgreens from the kitchen is more economic.
Lentils that you can grow from the kitchen as microgreens are rajma, lobia Chiti, fenugreek, mustard. However, you can harvest wheatgrass twice or thrice.
Grass may grow in your container along with microgreens. You just need to plug out the grass. Sometimes you might have fungus in your wheatgrass container due to over-humidity and no drainage system then you should start again with new seeds.
It might happen that the seeds don't germinate in that case it's not your mistake. Actually when you use them in your kitchen they absorb moisture at that time they lose their fertility so start with the new batch and at the time you will get better results.
One of the major problems that people face; when the seed germinate they look for light when they don't get enough light the looks legi and eventually they become weaker and the fall on the soil this is basically the sign that your plant is looking for more light you cannot grow microgreens in low light condition so whenever you see symptoms like this shift them to direct sunlight these steps are applied to most of the microgreens Don't try to grow every kind of seeds as microgreens don't use potatoes as microgreen.