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Is anyone growing microgreens?

 
pollinator
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I’m planning to try growing micro greens this fall for the first time. The choices of plant species seems to be almost limitless. What are some of the best types to try? Easy to grow? Flavorful? Cheap seeds? Can they all be eaten raw?

I already ordered radish and oilseed sunflowers. I should be able to grow sunflowers for seed next year. I know I want try some kind of peas. What else should I try? Are any of the edible “weeds” good for microgreens? Lambs quarter, curly dock, pigweed, maybe even dandelions?

Seeds from the grocery store would save money. Can you use every type of bean seed? Maybe popcorn?


 
pollinator
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I daily grow radish shoots and buckwheat shoots.  They are the cheapest for me to buy and now I buy them in 5 pound bags to save even more money.

I mostly add them to salads or in sandwiches.  Sometimes, if I have too much, then I will cut them up and add them to soups.

Every once in a while, I'll grow pea or lentil shoots.

In the summer outside in a raised bed I grow some mixed radish, red clover, brocoli and alfalfa shoots that I cut & harvest all summer to add to salads & soups etc.…  I also grow outside radish shoots & buckwheat shoots in pots.  They grow larger this way and make about 50% of my salad mix.  I grow two black pots/week and then I start harvesting them the second week.  What I do not eat in salads & soups, I freeze for the winter for soups. (Sometimes I dehydrate them, but it is faster to simply put them in large zip bags.  Once frozen, I crunch the bags so they take less space in the freezer.  If I would run out of space, then I would dehydrate them.  I'll also add them to spaghetti sauce, omelettes and whatever else that makes sense. I could add them to smoothies, but since I easily add them at both lunch & supper in the above ways, I have no need for green smoothies, so I reserve my smoothies just for fruit.

I also grow sprouts in jars:  a mixed of radish, red clover, brocoli and alfalfa, as well as radish, lentils, sunflower, peas.

Before I started growing my own shoots & sprouts, fresh greens in the winter, we only ate salade greens once a week, now we eat them (edit - several times) per week.  In the winter, if I run out of other vegetables from the store, I will always have enough vegetable nutrition from the sprouts & shoots that I grow daily till I buy.




 
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I know that lambs quarters are pretty common in commercial microgreens mixes - you should definitely be able to use them.

Michelle, how do you set up your winter radish and buckwheat? Are you growing them as shoots and eating them  as soon as they sprout, or are you growing microgreens to the point where they have a couple true leaves and need some light?
 
Michelle Bisson
pollinator
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Location: Quebec, Canada
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Michelle, how do you set up your winter radish and buckwheat? Are you growing them as shoots and eating them  as soon as they sprout, or are you growing microgreens to the point where they have a couple true leaves and need some light?



My radishes I grow as sprouts in a jar and has greens in a black pot.  

I started growing them as larger greens in large black pots two summers ago when we moved and did not have the space for a regular garden.

It is easy to grow them quite large till the real leaves start to grow.  This whole process takes two weeks. They are so quick to get to a very large size that there is no comparison with growing lettuce for volume and speed. The

After this period I consider them oversized.  If they are oversized then I cut them and throw them in the freezer as it is the quickest way to deal with my surpluses.

Out of one pot, I can get enough greens to fill a large bowl.  Usually I divide the greens into 3 or 4 days harvest days as I mix them with lettuce and other greens or sprouts that I have to make a nice salade.

Now last winter, I did not grow them in large black pots.  I grew them in bowls according to this book.  It is a great method.

Year-Round Indoor Salad Gardening: How to Grow Nutrient-Dense, Soil-Sprouted Greens in Less Than 10 days
https://www.amazon.com/Year-Round-Indoor-Salad-Gardening-Nutrient-Dense/dp/1603586156/ref=sr_1_fkmr2_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1539796215&sr=1-1-fkmr2&keywords=grow+salad+shooter

But after two summers growing them in large pots and having them grow to quite large leaves compared to growing them in the bowls, this winter I am expermenting of growing them in the pots since they can grow much larger before they get the new leaves.  But to grow them in pots, since it takes much more space like a greenhouse, or dedicated location, then for most people the method of doing them in bowls might work much better since you need a lot less space indoors and most people do not have a greenhouse or space they can have large pots.

Radish leaves are edible, but since they get prickly, most people do not, althought if I have some prickly radish greens, I will cut it in small pieces and add them to soups and then there is no prickly feeling.


For our needs, I do two black pots each week to get sufficient radish greens, but we still have some lettuce that I grew in pots in the late summer that I mix with the radish greens.  Now I will also do buckwheat greens this way.  They are often referred to as buckwheat lettuce.  If the stems get thick, then instead of adding the stems to the salad, I chop the stems to add to soups or stirfries and the leaves I keep for salads.


I also continue to grow radish sprouts in jars throught the winter.  They are nice in sandwiches or I'll add them to soups.


My buckwheat seeds have shells so I cannot sprout them as there is no way to separate the shells from the greens.  So I grow them either in bowls or pots.  

--

This winter I will probably buy some sunflower seeds to grow them as greens.  I currently only have already shelled sunflower seeds and they do not grow right as shoots.   So for now I just sprout my sunflower seeds and add them to salads & natural peanut butter as an extra crunch.








 
pollinator
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Sunflowers are by far my favourites.

Popcorn greens are very sweet, with a green corn flavour.  I couldn't ever figure out what to use them for with that intense sweetness.
 
Posts: 85
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I grow greens as per the book Michelle cited.  I try to start one mixed tray and one pea tray per day, for salads and adding to cooked dishes.  I started out just using up old, likely spent, seed packets (which germinated much better than I had expected), and now buy in more bulk from a wildlife feed store (https://www.saatgut-shop.de/)  It's fun and takes very little time once you're set up.

Oh, and since the specific question was about which seeds to grow:  I like peas as they taste good and are sturdy enough to hold up to cooking (and they'll regrow from cutting once or twice).  The book recommends black-hulled sunflowers - I got the stripey kind and they taste... off somehow, so I can't recommend.  The book also talks a lot about certain greens being very spicy - I haven't gotten anything but a mild tang from any of my seeds, so I wouldn't worry about that.
 
master steward
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Here are a couple of threads on growing microgreens that I like:

https://permies.com/t/44218/Growing-microbeets


https://permies.com/t/54751/kitchen/microgreens
 
Ken W Wilson
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Thanks everybody!

I’m going to start the radish and sunflowers today. I think the radishes will be ready a few days sooner than the sunflowers? I may try popcorn soon since I have some. Has anyone grown cantaloupe? I have a lot of saved seed.

I bought a 22”x22” tray from the Greenhouse Megastore for 9.00. It is really heavy plastic. It holds four 10”x10” flats.  I may be growing them in my living for the best natural light, so I need to keep things neat. I may end up putting them in the basement with LED lighting.



 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
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Got the radish and sunflowers planted.

I also did a tray of cilantro and a tray of purple carrots with two packets of seeds in each tray. I think those were all free packets from Bakers Creek. It is hard to guess how many seeds to use. It’s kind of nice to have a way use extra seeds.
 
Michelle Bisson
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I may end up putting them in the basement with led lighting.



Before rushing out to buy led lighting, you might still have enough light in the basement for adequate growing.

We can be surprised how well they grow without the expensive lighting even in low light conditions.  But it is to try it first.  

---


 
Jan White
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I find sunflowers grow best when you weigh them down for the first little bit.  Sprout them in a jar until they've got little tails, then put them in your tray with something on top.  I use stackable trays, so they fit nicely.  Put a bit of weight on and let the  sunflowers grow until they start pushing the top tray up.  then uncover and grow normally.  You'll get better yields and more even growth with the weight.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Thanks Jan! I’ll try that next time. My sunflowers didn’t come up very well. I’m going to try your method today. They taste great.

Radishes were a huge success. They have a milder flavor than I expected, but I really like them. Great crunchiness too. They are more productive than I expected. I’ve actually cut then 2-3 times. I guess plants that germinated late were crowded out until the taller plants are cut. I don’t think they could actually be growing back?

The cilantro tray did not come up at all. I replanted with radishes using the same soil. They are doing even better than the first radish tray.

The carrots seem too small to be worthwhile. Maybe with a lot more seeds they’d be productive. I used 3 small packets that were freebies from Bakers Creek.

I used a layer of compost topped with a layer of potting soil. I planted four 12”x12” trays with drain holes in a 24”x24” heavy tray. I’m growing them on the kitchen counter with some light from a flourecent grow light. They really don’t need much light. I used other trays to cover them while germinating. It’s very easy. I think I will probably always be growing microgreens in the winter.

It’s going to be interesting to try other plants. I’m going to try peas next. Not sure what else.





 
Ken W Wilson
pollinator
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This is what they look like.
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Posts: 19
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I am also using the book quoted above, and I got great results with little space requirement. We ate a lot of greens in salads (mixing it with winter salads from the garden when possible), and the kids liked to snack on them.

Seeds I am using:
Buckwheat (bought as birdfeed)
Sunflower (black)
Radish
Mustard (bought in the supermarket spice section)
Broccoli
Peas (whole dry peas from the supermarket work)
Red clover
Alfalfa

In Germany there is a company specializing on sprouting seeds which are a bit on the expensive side, but as you only need a little at a time and have superfresh no-waste vegetables it is still justified in my eyes.
The pic shows what the trays looked like last winter.
On both ends, sunflowers. Second to left, radish or mustard, followed by buckwheat, more sunflowers and peas.
The Buckwheat will eventually shed the husks, any remaining I remove after harvest.
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pollinator
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I grow microgreens for couple of seasons already. I was growing in large trays, but recently I grow them in small ones, just for my family use. I prefer to have several small trays with different plant in each rather than a large tray of one variety.
Recently friends have asked me to make a video on this topic, so I made one, text is in Polish but I hope it is quite self-explanatory.

 
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I came up with an automatic way to grow microgreens using regular nursery grow trays. Check it out... As for the seeds, I just used several mixed seed packages that came along with the microgreens machine I bought before I assembled my own system. Our family like Cashew a lot.

Automatic Feeding and Recycling Water Used to Grow Microgreens. https://permies.com/t/100637/Automatic-Feeding-Recycling-Water-Grow
 
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We are growing a total of 19 different microgreens all winter long in our apartment.  We also have a subscription service for people living in the Flathead Valley for the winter months so you can get fresh greens all winter.  We sell our microgreens live in order to get all the extra nutrients that are packed into these little plants.  Once a plant is cut, it begins to lose nutrients by the hour.  What you get in the stores is not as healthy as cutting them fresh to put on your food.  We also sell a microgreen kit so you can grow your own.  Check it out at http://geckomountainfarm.com  Since we have been eating microgreens on a daily basis, we have not had a cold or flu. My husband has been able to reduce his blood pressure meds by half.  We love all the flavors we grow so far.  And we put microgreens on everything, such as: pasta dishes, salads, sandwiches, hotdogs/hamburgers, soups, breakfast burritos, wraps/rolls, oatmeal, and my husband puts sunflower shoots on his ice cream.  Of course, sunflower and snow pea, I love to just eat by themselves.  You can make everything healthy by putting microgreens on them!  Microgreens we grow are broccoli, basil, leek, kale, cabbage, arugula, mustard, radish, sunflower, snow pea, cilantro, sorrel, buckwheat, nasturtium, beet, basic mix, spicy mix, swiss chard, and wheatgrass.  Microgreens are a great way to get all the nutrients your body needs in a delicious way.  
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Posts: 600
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We set up a system for microgreens and i couldnt tell you how many varieties. Lots!

The trays available at bootstrap farmer are second to none, as far as i have tried and true leaf market has a decent square 10x10.

True leaf market is a one stop shop for seed. Super good leverage in multi pound bags. You can plant copiously in the ground for any stage you like and still get sick of planting microgreens. It was a huge research project to come up to speed on microgreens and sourcing.

Led lights should be of a modern high quality. There are some great horticultural led fixtures and replacement retrofit tubes. Regular led shop lights can be hung over a table or shelf, but for multi-tier vertical gardens, i would use the wet location stuff or other provision.

The valoya lights we selected exceed our expectations in plant production and quality under them. Efficiency is 40% better than high intensity discharge or compact florescent lighting when the spectrum is done right.

You can have daylight white to warm if you like, we chose the AP673L spectrum. Its a bit pink, but not purple or blue and red especially when used as an augment to daylight. These leds are wode spectrum, so each diode is the same hue, not all disco and darkroom!

The reason was high growth rate and we wanted to bring out and enhance the phytochemical colors as nutritave medicine.

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pollinator
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I am planning on growing 4 trays that are standard nursery size: 11" x 22" and are only $2.49 each or if you buy 6 or more they are $2.24 each! The microgreen trays are sturdier than standard nursery trays and have optional holes in the bottom for drainage.

I've done microgreens before in pots and they are so easy to do. It's nice to hear that lots of people are trying this out, especially up in Canada where fresh produce comes from so far away in Winter!

I am sprouting seeds in jars (until my potting soil comes in at the local store- for my new microgreens "factory"), and I really love how fast bean and pea seeds sprout. They are second to none with speed and give you big sweet sprouts within 2-3 days depending on the temperature in your home.

I buy in massive bulk quantities from Mumms seeds and they ship both to Canada and US: https://sprouting.com/
You can buy 5kg, 25kg bags, etc. Super cheap and really beats the nutrition-less lettuce from the store shipped from Mexico and California!

If anyone wants an instructional video for sprouting in jars, check out my Youtube video here:



Summary of my sprouting (in jars) tips:
  • Don't use cheesecloth with jars = MOLD
  • Clean your jars with diluted apple cider vinegar every time you are done with a jar
  • Soak your seeds for between 4-8 hrs on the first "watering" (depending on seed type)
  • Smell your sprouts everytime you open the jar to water them your nose can tell if there is something funky growing


  • Also, I made a video of my favorite salad with sprouts:


     
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    I usually grow broccoli, Daikon Radish and sunflower microgreens in my indoors and outdoors. These can be harvested within a few days are very easy to grow. Moreover, they are delicious too and can be added in any of your dishes. Yes, I also use every type of bean seed and popcorn is a great idea. Nowadays, various microgreen and refill kits are available in the market containing all the required material along with instructions on growing them. It will help in a great way and you can enjoy your microgreens.
     
    pollinator
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    I'm following this thread just to not lose the great ideas I'm seeing here. Have had lots of problems with sunflowers coming up. Popcorn, I'm looking forward to trying!
     
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    You can grow mustard and spinach microgreens as well. To grow microgreens you should choose south facing area having plenty of sunlight. It is a myth that more light can grow more amount of crop. As human needs six hours of sleep to relax their body, in same way plants also need a six hours in dark to re-energize their tissues. More light can generate more photosynthesis and the flavor of our microgreens can be converted from sweet to bitter.
     
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