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The Benefits of Microgreens

The Benefits of Microgreens

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

Microgreens can be grown as an alternative or replacement for everyday leafy greens. They often contain a greater nutrient density than their mature counterparts, making them the perfect way to increase the value of your favorite everyday meals.

What exactly are microgreens? They are the tender, leafy seedlings that first develop following seed germination. While they are small, they are mighty with nutrients. Because microgreens can be grown indoors from the comfort of your kitchen, you can also enjoy them all year long. Seasonal changes don’t have to get in the way of growing your own food. Enjoy the leisure of growing fresh greens quickly, easily, and with little mess to clean up. Stay healthy with food grown fresh within your home.

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One of the most common questions we receive is, “how can you use microgreens? Do you cook them or just consume them raw?” The answer is yes. There are hundreds of ways to utilize microgreens in your everyday cooking. While microgreens are generally best raw, some may be lightly cooked or used as a garnish to your favorite warm dishes. With the benefits of eating raw and whole foods becoming better known, recipes involving microgreens are on the rise.

If you are new to using microgreens in your meals, I highly suggest you start by adding them as a substitute for common leafy greens like lettuce and spinach. Try them on sandwiches, burgers, salads, smoothies, etc. The options are endless! You can grow the microgreen version of vegetables if they have edible leaves and stalks. Some of the most common types include broccoli, lettuce, kale, peas, radish, cilantro, arugula, and many more.

Experiment with each to figure out which types you prefer. Most microgreens will deliver a similar, sometimes stronger, flavor relating to their mature counterpart. You can find a wide variety of common and adventurous microgreen seeds at True Leaf Market. If you aren’t sure which types you will like, start with a kit that comes with a variety of seeds to try.

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You have probably noticed lettuce becoming sparse in the grocery store from time to time as crops fail, problems with transportation occur, or the growing season is cut short by extreme weather. Don’t let these issues stop you from enjoying all the benefits leafy greens have to offer. In fact, microgreens can boast up to four to 40 times the nutrients of their mature counterparts, according to research conducted by the University of Maryland. This is incredible news, as only 10 percent of Americans are getting the recommended portion of vegetables a day. Not only is this lack of vegetable-sourced nutrients happening in the United States, but it is also being seen in greater proportions globally, according to a study published by The Lancet.

Vegetables play an essential role in the human diet. Microgreens are now playing a key role in helping us get back on track with our health. Research performed by agencies such as the USDA has shown that microgreens can prevent and combat diseases and cancer. The key to a healthy life really does depend on what we are fueling our bodies with. Microgreens are an excellent way to provide food stability within your home while providing the necessary vitamins and antioxidants for a healthy and well-balanced life. Don’t let the ebb and flow of supply and demand determine when leafy greens are available in your home.

Keep a fresh harvest available by growing at least one batch of microgreens each week. Most seed types are ready to harvest in only 10-14 days, although some may take longer. Growing a new tray weekly will provide approximately 8-12 ounces of fresh leafy greens. Simply grow them on your counter, a windowsill or grow rack.

There's no need to worry about clearing large areas of land or keeping up with the never-ending list of plant care responsibilities associated with growing outdoors. With microgreens, you will want to make sure your tray has a source of light to develop strong, healthy and colorful growth. If you don’t have access to good natural light, give your crop a boost with the aid of a grow light. Regardless of the weather outside, you can harvest a fresh crop daily. Rain, snow, frost, and space are no problem when growing indoors all year long.

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Get your crop started by gathering the needed microgreen growing supplies. You will need seeds, trays and a growing medium. When it comes to trays, you can really use any size container you wish. However, we recommend a 10x20-inch tray to provide a regular and reliable harvest. Plus, it will make measuring the necessary amount of seeds easier as most seed rates are given per 1020 tray.

To make watering simple, nestle a tray with holes inside one without holes. Add your preferred growing medium. If you are new to growing microgreens, it is best to use a soil-based medium such as potting soil or coconut coir. Hydrate your soil and spread your seeds over the tray. Sprinkle a light covering of soil over the seeds to lock in moisture for germination. Plants tend to develop better growth when bottom watering is practiced. Each day, add approximately two cups of water to the bottom tray. Allow a few minutes for the soil to soak up the water, discard any excess or supply additional water if needed. Depending on the light and temperature environment of your growing location, a second watering time may be needed each day. Follow a microgreen growing guide for detailed instructions related to specific seed-type preferences.

Growing food and living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to be complicated. Who said you had to stop growing just because winter arrived? Experience the joy of growing all year long. Give microgreens a try for a fast, easy, nutritious harvest week after week. Not only will you love it, the whole family will, too!

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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 national 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 seeds, supplies and other growing ideas:

All articles are copyrighted and remain the property of the author.

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