Recently I posted an article by Emma Holister of http://www.art-margin.com/ on sprouting. Now here is a 3-part series from her on how to grow a micro-greens salad. If you’re not familiar with that term, you’ll easily see what it is from this article.
For larger images, just click on any one of these pictures. —Zana
Growing your own micro-greens is not only the easiest, cheapest and most rapid way to grow your own salads, but is also a guarantee of the highest nutrient level, freshness and organic purity of your food.
Sprouts and micro-greens have a far higher nutrient content than normal vegetables, for example lettuce, even if that lettuce is organic and freshly picked, something you are anyway unlikely to obtain from your local shop. I recently saw in a central Nimes store a tiny handful of these same sunflower greens, packaged in polystyrene and plastic, being sold for over seven euros.
With rising food prices and the poor quality of the chemical-ridden produce sold in most stores, learning to grow your own organic greens indoors is potentially a life-saving art. It is also a means to become self sufficient if you are able to produce your own organic seeds. Two of the most delicious micro-green salads are black sunflower seeds and snow peas.
This demonstration is with black sunflower seeds. You can grow the flowers in your garden throughout the summer and harvest the seeds to provide you with fresh salads throughout the year. Sunflowers are easy to grow in a variety of climates. I grew this batch of micro-greens end February/early March. Because they are grown indoors next to a window in any warm room, it is possible to grow these salads throughout most of the year. Only in the very dark and cold months of winter might this method need a supplement of electric lighting to boost its growth.
The average tray of micro-greens takes about a week to reach full maturity, at which point you simply harvest them with a pair of scissors and put the used soil mat into your compost bin where it will be recycled into fresh nutrient-rich compost within two to three months. A rotation system of two compost bins can be set up outside or even under a table in your kitchen. This method will be explained at the end of these instructions.
Black organic unhulled sunflower seeds are the best for growing micro greens because the seed pods come off the leaves more easily, producing a neater crop. Attempting to grow greens from hulled sunflower seeds will produce messy crop full of rotten seeds, as not all of them are whole or alive after hulling.
1) Put three table spoons of seeds in a jar.
2) Fill the jar with water, preferably spring water or filtered.
3) As the seeds are full of air, they will float. Some people like to jam them down with some type of weight. However, I find that simply pushing them with the fingers so that they all become fully wet is sufficient, even if they continue to float.
4) As with your normal sprouts, cover the jar with mosquito net or muslin attached with an elastic band.
5) Cover so that the light cannot reach them, leaving them preferably in a shadey corner to assure maximum darkness for the seeds to flourish. (The only time that seeds should ever be exposed to light is when they are pushing through soil to reach sunlight in the form of leaf shoots. Therefore it is important to remember that all your dry seeds should always be stored in a dry, air-tight glass jar in a dark cupboard. The jar needs to be air-tight to avoid mites getting in and feasting on the seeds.)
6) The next day your seeds will have rehydrated and swollen in size.
7) Pour out the water and hold the elastic band in place if you’re not sure it’s tight enough, otherwise you may risk dropping all the seeds in the sink. As with all sprouts, refill the jar with water and empty it again, in order to rinse the seeds. Always be very careful that you are indeed using the cold tap and not the hot, an easy mistake to make which will kill your seeds.
8) Put the seeds to sprout in just the same way as you do for your normal sprouts, on a dish rack, at an angle where the water can drain out easily onto a dish and the airflow is not blocked so that the sprouts can breathe easily.
9) Cover well to prevent any light from reaching the jars. Light will inhibit the growth of sprouts. Leave overnight, and the next day rinse the seeds and put them back to drain on the rack under the towel in order to grow for another day and night. As with all sprouts, give them a rinse twice a day, morning and evening.
10) After a day or two the seeds will have begun to sprout white shoots outside of their hulls. They are now ready to plant in a shallow soil tray.
(Parts two and three will be published tomorrow and the next day.)