By: Vincenzo Sisti, Co-Owner of SunFlower LLC
Deciding what crop we would start off growing in our 16’ x 12’ four-season off-grid greenhouse (otherwise known as Greenhouse 1.0) there weren't many viable options. Two major factors made our growing options slim: my business partner and I had little experience in the agricultural production industry, nor did we have a sizable amount of start-up capital to work with. With these two obstacles looming overhead, one of the only realistic options was to establish a microgreen farm - so that's what we did!
What Are Microgreens Anyways?
Awesome - that's what they are, well we think so! According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, microgreens are “a very small, young, and tender edible leaf (as of mustard, radish, mint, or lettuce)”. We think that's a rather vague definition, so let us break it down for you further!
Microgreens (micros) are not what is commonly referred to as a sprout, nor is it a baby green; micros are the phase of a plant’s life between stages where there is no flowering or budding (sprouts) and when the first true leaves appear (baby greens). This key stage, when the cotyledon leaf (the first leaf a plant produces) emerges, is when the microgreen stage occurs. Reaching this growth stage takes approximately 8-14 days, but can be shortened or lengthened based on the type of green or vegetable being grown.
There are so many types, here are a few that we grow:
Red Russian Kale
Italian Long Leaf Basil
All produce and most types of terrestrial plant life produce what is referred to as a microgreen during their early growth cycles. This stage of the plant can offer astronomical amounts of nutrients compared to their mature counterparts. Everything from Vitamins A, B, C and D to Potassium and Iron, microgreens come packed with some powerful health benefits, so get eating!
‘Why not?’ is the real question! They’re quick growing, low maintenance and the material required to grow them, when done hydroponically, is minimal. The risk of crop failure is little-to-none along with a low risk of unwanted bacterial growth. We chose our crop assortment based on the community's existing knowledge-base of leafy greens and produce, the shortened growth time to produce and, well, let's get real - FLAVOR!
From seeding our grow medium to harvesting, microgreens can take as little as 6 days to grow; yes, you read that right. Operating in our controlled growing space, we can grow some types of microgreens in as little as 6 days!
How do you use Microgreens?
The answer may surprise you. Microgreens can be used on, well, everything you would normally put fresh herbs or leafy greens on! In some cases, you can even utilize them as a replacement for full-grown produce or nutritional supplements.
Do you use lettuce or other leafy greens on your sandwiches or salads? Do you ever put kale into your smoothies? What about using fresh basil on salads or pasta dishes? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then do we have news for you… you already know how to use microgreens!
Simply switch out that romaine on your turkey sandwich with our Zesty Mix, which contains an array of micros including Daikon Radish, Arugula, Wasabina Mustard, Red Cabbage and Red Russian Kale. Instead of buying dried basil for your caprese salad, add a little fresh micro-Basil! In place of using head cabbage for a coleslaw, add in some Red Cabbage micros and Daikon Radish micros for a slightly more intensified flavor profile and texture. When making your daily protein smoothie or breakfast smoothie, in place of full-grown kale, increase the nutrient density and add some of our Red Russian Kale micros.
Microgreens can be utilized in a variety of ways and incorporated into your daily food plan or diet, not only providing great flavor profiles but also tremendous nutritional value and benefit. There are so many different types of microgreens with an endless number of flavors to satisfy your taste buds, nutritional desires and daily requirements.
Stay healthy, stay positive and Shine On!
“Microgreens and Sprouts Are Not the Same Thing.” Urban Cultivator, 19 Mar. 2016, www.urbancultivator.net/microgreens-vs-sprouts/.
“Microgreen.” Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster, 2020, www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/microgreen.