Friday, January 3, 2014

Growing Micro Greens and Health

Beet and Kale Microgreens, Photo Borrowed from Johnny's Selected Seeds

One of the things I've discovered during my declining health is what my diet is missing from salads. During the summer, I eat enough fresh vegetables (including tomatoes) that I don't notice any deficit, but it has become more apparent lately.

When I was first diagnosed with liver disease, they put me through 6 months of testing all parts of my body to determine if I was healthy enough for a liver transplant. During that time, they pulled all my teeth except 6 teeth in the lower front. Tooth decay had been a life-long problem for me despite throwing many thousands of dollars into my mouth for root canals, crowns and bridges and still losing the teeth.

Medicare will not pay for dentures and I haven't had an extra $5-6,000 sitting around to pay for them myself, but I get by except for the few things I cannot chew easily, notably a steak and most salad greens. I can manage romaine but not the baby greens I so love, and eating only romaine in salads gets old.

Micro greens turn out to be a great alternative that I can actually chew, and interestingly enough, they contain more nutrition than those same greens grown to full size! Over the course of this past summer I have been buying micro greens at the farmer's market but now they are closed for the winter so I ordered seeds and trays to grow my own, inside on a bookshelf under a windowsill.

To start off, I bought a quarter pound each of 2 mixes from Johnny's, one spicy (red and green mustards with various textures) and one a mild mix (Mizuna, Cabbage, Kale, and Kohlrabi). When I get the hang of growing them, I can buy the specific micro greens I prefer (and there are oodles of choices), but I thought this was a good way to start.

After 4 Days

My first try was to sow just a few rows of each in one tray just to see how they grow, although my ordered pack of trays was for 6 trays. I only have enough windowsill for 2 trays, leaving room enough for my cat to lounge in the sun's scant rays.

The first seeds (uncovered) sprouted in 4-5 days and the instructions said 10-15 days to maturity (cutting). I think the first sowing will barely make 1 salad with other additions, so I should get 2-3 servings per full tray and will do continuous sowing as I use them.

After 6-7 Days

I should be able to cut them in another week. 

Update, Dec 23. My micro greens are languishing for lack of enough light on the window sills. They don't even have a true set of leaves yet and are very leggy. My after-Christmas chore will be to hang a grow light (a fluorescent light with one cool-white bulb and one warm-light bulb) over that windowsill before I sow another batch. I have the light fixture, just need bulbs but I'm NOT braving the last-minute Christmas shoppers for them.


  1. Will you post another picture of what they look like when they are ready? I would love to do this, but I don't know when you're supposed to cut and eat them!

    1. Wildcard, I will do another post on a new batch (which will happen after I get some proper lights). I'm going to cut and eat what's growing now even though they have never developed their first set of true leaves.

      In their final state they should look more like the photo at the top of this post.

    2. That makes sense! That is my duh moment of the day :-)

  2. Even though my home is a passive solar heated house and therefore perfectly oriented north-South with LOTS of windows, I must use plant lights when I start seeds. I use only the full spectrum plant lights. The others just don't have the type of light needed and things either don't do well, or get leggy anyways. So I'd urge you to get real plant lights, if you can.

    1. Pam, my understanding is that one warm white bulb and one cool white bulb together offer the full light spectrum that plants need.

      However, I'll compare prices and info when I go to Lowe's for materials.

  3. I have a question.
    Many greens have a good amount of nutrition in them, but the issue is bio-availability...we can't digest and use them to the fullest. But when a ruminant eats them (for example cattle eating grass) and we eat the meat, we are able to digest and use the nutrients that they have converted to meat (or in the milk).

    That being said, I'm guessing you've researched the bio-availability of the nutrients in the micro greens. Could you comment on that?

    Thanks! And I'm always glad when I see a post :D

    1. I didn't take any notes, but I'm assuming the bio-availability was good or I'd have noted it.


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