Chia is a very nutritious mucilaginous seed, and an easy Micro-Green.
This is another seed folks asked us for - for years - before we ever stocked it. We could never find a source which was certified organic and we didn't want to stock another expensive seed, but we special-ordered some for a customer and when we saw how lovely the seed was, we fell in love. Again.
Chia is among the most glorious of all seeds, in appearance. It is a mottled black and white/off-white. Gorgeous!
When we found a stable source of seed - from a supplier who IS certified organic, we decided to commit to it long-term.
We wonder how many people get into Micro-Greens as a result of having grown a "Chia Pet". Just curious.
Yields approximately as many Micro-Greens (by weight) as seed "planted"
We put quotes around Planted because the seeds are always spread atop a medium - not planted under.
This is a mucilaginous seed. Do NOT soak it unless you are performing an experiment!
(see Notes (below) for variations)
Grow these on soil or Baby Blanket (a soilless medium) in a Tray, on a Hemp Bag,
a Miniature Garden (which is basically a small set of trays - each which holds a medium) or on virtually any moisture retaining medium
(theoretically as minimal as paper towel or fabric - like cheesecloth) you can think of.
Thoroughly moisten the Medium upon which you are going to grow.
Whether you are using a Hemp Bag, Baby Blanket, or another medium - lay it on a plate or in a pan or something -
so that you don't end up watering your counter. If you are using a Tray with drainage slits to hold your medium, put it on a plate or in a solid (Drip) Tray -
or use a plate or pan to capture the water runoff.
Spread seeds sparsely on your thoroughly moistened medium.
There should be a bit of space around each seed but you are not expected to place them one at a time - just spread them out as much as you can and as evenly as you can, within reason.
You may cover your seeds:
If planting on soil or another medium in a Tray use another identical tray - up side down.
If using a Miniature Garden you can slide the tray into the central unit for the first 2-3 days.
If using a Hemp Bag, Baby Blanket, or another medium - be creative. If it's on a plate then use an identical plate (upside down) as a cover.
It is not mandatory when growing Micro-Greens to cover them at all. Experiment for yourself and see what works best in your climate/location.
Place your Micro-Garden in a low-light, room temperature location (70° is optimal).
Keep the medium moist - but not soggy - by watering or misting with a Spray Bottle every day.
When your plants grow up and begin to shed their hulls they are ready for light so move them (if necessary) to a well lighted location.
If you go with sunlight be prepared to water more frequently. Room light will usually do quite nicely - and will not dry out your medium as quickly.
Keep the medium moist but not soggy by watering regularly.
Water from the side if possible to prevent injuring the tiny plants - especially if you are not using a Spray Bottle.
When your plants have open leaves which are green, they are done.
Cut the plants just above the medium upon which they have grown.
During the final 8-12 hours minimize the surface moisture of your plants - they will store best in your refrigerator if they are dry to the touch. So if you water try to keep the water off the plants - just water the medium.
When you are ready to store them (I'll remind you that these degrade fast, so eat them instead of storing them if you can), if they are still damp - lay them between some paper towels or anything you prefer, and dry them very gently.
Transfer your crop to a plastic bag or the sealed container of your choice - glass is good.
We sell an amazing Produce Storage Bag that actually extends the shelf life of produce, if you're interested in the best of the best =;-)
Whatever you store them in; put them in your refrigerator - if you must.
* Dry Seed Volume
See our Notes (below) for Variations.
If using Sproutpeople's Single Harvest Pack and a 5x5 inch Tray; use the whole bag.
2 Teaspoons for our little 5 inch tray.
2 scant Tablespoons for an 10 inch square tray.
4 Tablespoon for an 10 x 20 inch tray.
The first time you grow these you should consider giving quite a bit of space to each seed just to familiarize yourself with the plants' habit. Our suggested Dry Seed Volume will provide you with this space.
We first grew Micro-Greens back in 1994. We were way ahead of the curve. Nobody was interested in them - not our farmers market customers, not our food stores (co-ops, natural food stores and grocery stores we delivered to every week), not our restaurants, nobody!
That did change some as the years passed, but we were always Sprout People first. Frankly, we prefer Sprouts to Micros, but we keep working with them. We want to like them more.
There are varying opinions of what constitutes a Micro-Green. Traditionally it is just a plant grown to the Cotyledon stage, and cut above the medium upon which it is planted.
When we grow to this stage; we either grow on Baby Blanket or soil (any kind will do). Baby Blanket is less messy and works fine and dandy. We cut a piece to fit a plate, then
we follow our own instructions for keeping the medium and seeds-sprouts thoroughly moist. We use another of the same size plate - inverted - as a cover. We uncover our plants when they are about 1/2 inch tall, or when they are hitting the covering plate.
We then expose them to all the light our kitchen has to offer. We even use direct sunlight when available. We have to water them more often when we do this. When it comes to watering, We mist them with a Spray Bottle until the seeds have firmly rooted. After that -
when growing on a piece of Baby Blanket on a plate; pour water directly onto the plate. We gently tip and turn the plate so as much water as possible gets soaked up by the Baby Blanket, and then pour off most of the excess.
When growing on soil; we continue to spray with the Spray Bottle, but we keep the medium moist by adding water directly to the plate or solid tray it is sitting on.
We allow the medium to drink up what water it can, and then gently pour off the excess. Leaving a little water on the plate is fine - it will get sucked up before your next watering. If it doesn't, you are leaving too much water behind.
There are some nowadays who want a Micro-Green to be a plant which puts out a True Leaf before they'll call it a Micro-Green.
We find that concept Very interesting, so we have worked to make that happen.
The first thing is to plant less seed. Just how much is the question. The general rule is this: The more space your plant has to grow roots - the bigger it can grow.
We are currently using 1/4 teaspoon in a 5x5 inch tray. That leaves quite a bit of room between the seeds-plants, but gives them enough space to grow to the True Leaf stage. This can take 2 weeks or more.
The main thing that is needed is More Light. Plants get "leggy" when they need to reach for light. We use that to our advantage in all other circumstances in the Sprout World, but here we want to minimize the legginess of the plants. If you can put a light right above your crop -
or keep it in direct sunlight, that will help. Keep everything adequately moist. Remember - the more light the faster the medium and plants will dry. This may sound like a lot more work, but really it isn't much more than usual.
We cover the seeds only until they have sprouted when growing this way. We plant on soil which has been enriched with 20% Earthworm Castings, which add nitrogen that a plant uses to grow leaves. When making up the soil,
do not exceed 20% Earthworm Castings as too much nitrogen can burn your plants (they actually whither and die when the soil is too "hot" - which means it has too much nitrogen).
Mix the castings into the base soil (anything will work, though we do not advise mixes that are heavily peat moss as we find it hard to work with and we don't find the crop turns out as well) - it is the roots that will need access to the rich soil medium.
If growing a mix, not all of the plants will grow True Leaves at the same time. Keep growing until most have them. Harvest then and eat them up. Though you can store Micro-Greens,
they degrade quickly, and since you have put so much work in these - you should enjoy them at their peak.
The Next Variation
The next obvious step (to us anyway) we find really exciting. It is to grow even fewer seeds into even fewer plants. Those plants will grow more leaves. They will be more like Baby-Greens than Micro-Greens. They will require more time. They may re-grow more quickly because they'll have a bigger root-mass.
The container (tray, pot, etc.) they grow in will likely be too small for that root-mass to live long, but it's possible. When it comes right down to it, we're talking about an indoor-garden. All the other stuff we offer is about indoor gardening, but this is more like a garden. Not many of us have space in our homes to Garden
inside, but we love the idea. We're working on this, and we'll tell you what we find out as soon as we know something. It was gardening that eventually led us to sprouting. We feel like this is closing that circle started so long ago - now it is sprouting leading back to gardening @:-)
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