Microgreens in the north

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Project: Growing & Producing

In the north, produce is expensive and often not very fresh. Fortunately broccoli, kale, radish, buckwheat and peas can all be grown as microgreens in a small space for pennies a serving. Not to mention, they are also super nutritious and tasty. To get started all you need is a small table, a fluorescent light or sunny window, and a bag of potting soil and some containers for growing.

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Grow North

Northern community members from Shamatawa to Black River and a number of places in between gathered in Leaf Rapid this past April to learn and share their own food knowledge and skills. A hands-on approach to learning got participants to dig their hands in the dirt and learn about growing their own microgreens. Learning to grow microgreens was a pretty new to everyone in group, even some of the most experienced gardeners. Learning how easy and nutritious it can be, many community members were inspired to grow their own at home, at work and in their classrooms.

What are microgreens?

They are not sprouts, they are plants that have developed their first true leaves. This takes 1-3 weeks depending on what you’re growing. Then they are ready to be harvested and eaten. A four foot fluorescent light can keep a family supplied in fresh greens throughout the winter. There are literally dozens of different kinds of seeds. Some of the easiest and tastiest greens to grow are fava beans, peas, kale, sunflowers, broccoli and radish.

Steps

  1. Fill trays with soil. Gently press down to create flat surface but not squeeze.
  2. Soak large seeds like peas and beans overnight in a bucket, rinse and drain. This will speed up the process. Smaller seeds do not need soaking.
  3. Sprinkle seeds over the entire surface. Seeds should be spaced apart slightly to allow seeds to grow.
  4. Press the seeds into the soil and cover with a damp unbleached paper towel or fine layer of soil.
  5. Add lots of water and keep moist. Use clean drinking water and check it every day.
  6. Use a plastic lid to prevent water loss and store in a warm location.
  7. After 2-3 days, leaves will appear. Put under fluorescent lights or in a sunny location.

Tips

Try to buy seeds in bulk, as individual seed packages can be expensive. Som companies, like Mumm’s Sprouting seeds, specialize in bulk seeds. A 50 pound bag of fava beans for under $75. This is enough seed to supply a small community with greens for quite a while! Mumm’s website also provides detailed instructions on how to grow each kind of seed they sell.

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Sections of this good food story were submitted by community partner, Ray Derksen.

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