Anyone can grow microgreens in their kitchen garden; the lockdown is seeing a surge in people experimenting with different methods. Here is one you can try
Packed with nutrition, microgreens are fast gaining popularity. And a growing tribe of health conscious individuals are trying their hand at growing these superfoods in kitchen gardens during the pandemic.
While being a plant parent can be challenging, microgreens need little space to grow. They are small plants in the next stage of sprouting, when the first leaves develop from the seed. “If you have a windowsill or balcony that gets a few hours of sunshine every day, you are good to go,” says Visakhapatnam-based S Ravi Kanth Reddy, founder of the NGO Mother Earth Environmental Consciousness Society (MEECONS), and who is an advocate of sustainable living.
Recently, Ravi Kanth and his wife Naga Vijaya, released a video on Vijaya’s Healthy Home on YouTube. The video showed how to grow microgreens through hydroponics, showing the time-lapse of the growth of such greens. “These superfoods contain abundant Vitamin C, E and anti-oxidants, and are far more nutritious than the adult leafy versions. These are ideal to throw onto a salad or sandwich. You can also garnish a dish with a dash of microgreens,” says Ravi Kanth.
What to keep in mind
- When using cocopeat and soil, microgreens should be grown in flat surfaces, like a tray or cardboard box with drainage holes, that can hold up to two inches of soil.
- Spray water daily to keep it moist especially during the first two-three days of the germination stage.
- Microgreens taste best when fresh but can be refrigerated for a couple of days.
- The tender greens can be used as a nutritious side dish, added to smoothies or as colourful topping to salads.
- Use seeds that are untreated with any chemical.
- Good quality soil and cocopeat, which are chemical free, ensure that microgreens grow well.
- Be careful not to overwater them.
Besides being healthy, they are also simple to grow. “They don’t need a lot of light and can be grown in four to six days. So, there is no fretting about fertilising, repoting, or pruning,” he explains. And more importantly, these greens are completely organic as you would be growing them without pesticides or fertilisers. “Seeds like those of fenugreek, wheat, green gram and mustard take just two to three days to germinate. Preparing the seed is the first step in growing microgreens. For the initial 24 hours, the seeds need to be placed in a darker place before shifting them to a bright spot,” says Ravi Kanth.
Process of choice
He used the hydroponic method which he says can be an alternative to cocopeat and soil, as these may not be easily accessible everywhere during the pandemic. “I used a stainless steel sieve, which is usually available at every household, to grow microgreens hydroponically. Wash the seeds well; spread them on the sieve and place it above a container with water; spray water twice a day and cover with a lid. Follow the process for two to three days till you see tiny leaves coming out,” he says, adding, “After this, shift the sieve along with container to a brighter spot. But do not cover it. In six days’ time, you are good to go and harvest it.”