Sproutpeople and Micro-Greens
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 @:-)
Dry Clover awaits Soaking.
12 - 24 hours later.... Harvest Time!
Another view. An overflowing Easy Sprout a