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Enjoy the Taste of Summer Now with Sprouts and Microgreens

By Ashleigh Smith, True Leaf Market
Photographs courtesy of True Leaf Market

A meal crafted from garden-fresh ingredients is unmatched in flavor. However, in the early spring, securing that freshness can be challenging without an indoor growing area. Fortunately, no matter the size of your space, microgreens and sprouts are always viable options for cultivation this time of year.

Sprouts are the germinated seed and emerging roots of vegetables. They are full of nutrients that originate from the seeds' storage reserves. Microgreens similarly grow from these reserved nutrients but are harvested once the cotyledon leaves emerge. Both sprouts and microgreens are grown from the same seeds that grow into traditional vegetables like broccoli, radishes, peas, cabbage, etc. Sprouts and microgreens, however, have a more concentrated flavor compared to their mature counterparts, making them a perfect addition to meals for both a boost of nutrients and fresh vegetable flavor.

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Getting started is easy. To grow sprouts, all you need is a container that can hold your seeds and drain excess water. A jar with a sprouting lid is ideal for individuals and small families. For larger amounts, consider using a sprouting tray. Simply add your seeds, soak, and drain. Then, rinse and drain 2-3 times a day until they reach your desired stage for eating.

Microgreens can be cultivated in soil or using a hydroponic growing medium. Among these options, soil is generally considered the easiest medium for nurturing microgreens. However, hydroponic growing can be cleaner and just as reliable with practice. When considering what seeds to grow, it is best to select from seeds that clearly have been identified for sprouting or microgreens. Generally speaking, any plant that can be harvested for its foliage or stems can also be grown as a microgreen in 5-28 days; and any plant with edible roots can be grown and consumed as sprouts within 3-10 days.

When it comes to cooking, sprouts and microgreens are used very differently compared to their mature vegetable equivalents, as they are best eaten raw to preserve their nutritional value. Sprouts offer a satisfying and refreshing crunch that can be added as a garnish or mixed into a meal before serving. For example, mung bean sprouts are often used in Asian cuisine dishes such as pad thai, pho, spring rolls, soups, wraps, and salads. Outside of Asian cuisine, sprouts are often used to garnish avocado toast, blended into smoothies, or mixed into a fresh green salad.

Microgreens are used similarly and can be added anywhere you would normally use leafy greens, such as lettuce, spinach, kale, etc. While microgreens are also best used raw to preserve their nutrients, they can also be lightly cooked or added to hot foods like pasta, pizza, risotto, etc.

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One of the greatest benefits of growing and cooking with sprouts and microgreens is that you get the flavor and nutrients of your favorite vegetables in a fraction of the time. Utilizing vegetables at their sprout and microgreen stages also reduces the food miles incurred from transporting mature vegetables from the field to your home.

During the winter and the transitional periods of the growing season, most people rely on grocery stores for their vegetables, unless they have preserved enough from their previous season's harvest through freezing or drying. A simple tablespoon of seed can yield cups of sprouts or greens, all grown from your kitchen counter without needing any specialized machinery or supplies. This allows you to not only grow your own food all year long as well as helps reduce the demand for out-of-season produce to be shipped across the country or the world.

Whether you are an experienced gardener or trying things out for the first time, sprouts and microgreens are for you. They are some of the easiest and most nutritious plants to grow and require the least supplies to get started. Make your own containers or try some handy self-watering trays to keep your indoor microgreen garden thriving whether you are home or not.

Enjoy life on the go? Sprouts can also be grown in a mesh or linen bag for a delicious, protein-filled snack. Add a carabiner clip to the bag for backpack attachment to easily enjoy your most extreme of adventures while fueling your body with fresh vegetables. Get started today and enjoy a fresh harvest of summer flavors within the next one to two weeks! Learn more: www.trueleafmarket.com.

Ashleigh Smith is the Managing Editor at True Leaf Market with a bachelor's degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University - Idaho. True Leaf Market is a nationally certified organic, non-GMO seed and horticultural company based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The True Leaf Market staff specializes in supplying a large selection of conventional, heirloom, and organic seeds to home gardeners everywhere. Learn more about our sprouts, microgreens, supplies, and other seeds and growing ideas: www.trueleafmarket.com.


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