By Debbie Bullington
For Rural Life Today
MEIGS COUNTY — Every year at this time my body starts craving “green food.” I mean fresh lettuce, fresh kale, chard and spinach. The other day I was craving them so much, that I bought some while I was at the supermarket. I knew this produce had probably come from miles away, harvested days ago and who knows what kind of chemical residue was still on it. (They weren’t organic) It didn’t matter, I could rinse them off! I just wanted some “green food!”
So, while I was making my “green food” selections, at the store, I happen to look over and saw these clear, plastic, “clam-shell containers” with something in them called “micro-greens.” I had been hearing allot about Micro-greens lately, from watching the “Food Channel.”
The contents of one of the clam-shells I had picked up looked really, really good until I saw the price. It was $8.00 for a few handfuls of micro-greens, that were made from Sunflower Seeds. Whoa. My cravings aren’t THAT out of control! So, I quickly put the micro-green container down and muttered to myself, “I bet I could make these at home!” So, I did just that. I went home and did a little more investigating. It seems that micro-greens are very nutritional and pound for pound, these tiny greens have about five times more nutrients in them compared to their full grown (leaf) counterparts. They are smaller than regular greens, but bigger than sprouts.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says that “micro-greens” is just a word that marketers use to describe the tiny, edible greens grown from the seeds of vegetables and herbs. Micro-greens are easy to grow at home on a sunny windowsill.
Well, I have a home and I have a sunny windowsill, so I’m going to give this a try.
I didn’t have to purchase anything for this “experiment.” I had some old Mung Bean seeds and Alfalfa seeds that I hadn’t used in a long time, I already had some Mescalin Mix Lettuce seeds and a few gigantic Sunflower heads, full of seeds left over from last year.
I guessed how many of each type of seed I would need. I ended up with a cup of Mung Beans, two cups of Sunflower Seeds, a quarter cup of Alfalfa Seeds and an entire package of Mescalin Mix. I soaked them in tepid water, in seperate containers, overnight, to help them sprout faster. (or so the USDA says.)
The next day, I went out to our greenhouse and from our stash, I chose four black, plastic trays (the kind that you purchase plant starts in, with the solid bottoms and drainholes) Two of these trays would be used for actually growing the plants and two trays would be used for lids. (I’ll tell you what the lids are for in a minute)
I was thinking about dead bugs and bacteria being on those old trays, so I washed them in hot, soapy water and then rinsed them real well. I put a layer of plastic wrap on the bottom of the trays and up the sides to make them watertight. I would be doing this “experiment” on the top of my washer and dryer, under a window that is the only south facing, sunny window in our house. I filled the trays with the same potting soil I use to start my vegetables and flowers in, in the spring. I dampened the potting soil a little before I put it in the trays so the seeds would stick to the soil better. I divided each tray in half by making a line across the center of the tray with my finger. This was enough growing space to get a sampling of all four of the seeds that I had chosen to try.
I then drained my soaked seeds (one container at a time) and placed a single layer of the drained seeds over the entire half section of one of the trays. Then drained the next batch and did the same thing until all the seeds were used.
I watered the seeds lightly and then turned the two remaining trays over and placed them on top of the trays that I had just planted. Because, the seeds require total darkness for four days to germinate and get the process going.
… and then I waited.
Four days went by and I lifted the lids and saw sprouts … tons of sprouts!
Over the next ten days, I turned them to face the sun and watered them and babied them. I waited 14 days until they were around four inches tall and harvested them with a pair of scissors. Alas, I had green food!
Their flavor is much more intense than that of mature greens. You can add them to salads or use them to garnish soups and sandwiches. If you use more trays, you can stagger your plantings and have a continious supply of Micro-greens any time you want. They are crunchy and yummy!
My kids are all grown and gone, but I’m sure any kid would love to watch the process of them growing and what a great way to get them grow what they eat! I especially liked the Sunflower micro-greens myself. If this sounds like too much trouble, you can purchase your micro-greens at the supermarket. But, the plastic clam-shell containers in which they’re typically sold don’t provide the right balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide for live greens to “breathe.” So, all the more reason for you to try growing your own at home.