Top 5 Reasons To Grow Microgreens At Home
Rachel Haber, June 24, 2020
If you are familiar with the super-food called microgreens, then you may have considered growing them yourself with a kit or your own set up. In this article I explain my top 5 reasons for growing microgreens at home. Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned plant parent, this article will shed light on how microgreens can fit into your diet and gardening style.
The first time I grew microgreens was as an activity for kids. I liked them instantly. So did the teachers and students I was working with at the time. Soon my foodie friends and veggie loving kids were all over them. There was something special about growing these little edible greens that pulled people in.
When I finally moved away from the giant trays that many growers recommend to using smaller planters that fit on my windowsills, growing microgreens became a game changer. It turned from a project into a staple activity and food in my home. We liked them so much that I started designing and 3D printing better planters for them (which eventually became the KnowingNature planters). Years later, they are still a big source of entertainment, learning and joy for us at home and at school.
Whether you are using a KnowingNature planter or a different set up, there are so many reasons why growing microgreens is great for beginners and seasoned planters alike. Below are my top 5 reasons to grow microgreens at home.
1. Microgreens Work Around Busy Schedules
I would love to tell you how easy it is to grow all these awesome plants and veggies during my free time, but "free time" and I had a falling out years ago, and I don't find most plants to be truly easy. Even when I have the right space, the right light, the right soil and the right containers, it's not easy for me to remember to prune, water, feed and tidy them up alongside pruning, watering, feeding and tidying up myself and my 3 little kids, not mention keeping my plants SAFE from my 3 little kids.
The demands or work and family keep me so busy on a regular basis that before I invest in any plants, especially edibles like herbs and vegetables, I have to think carefully about what this plant needs and if I will have what it takes to be a good plant parent.
That decision is just so much EASIER when planting microgreens. I can plant them when it works for my schedule regardless of the time of day, weather or season of the year because they grow indoors with direct or indirect sunlight. Best of all, the time investment is SHORT so I don't need to commit to weeks and months of care. Most microgreens reach their first leaf stage (i.e., the age when they are ready to harvest and eat) in just 1-2 weeks. If I have a busy project coming up or the kids get sick (as they do like dominos in the winter), I can skip planting for a few weeks and pick it up right where I left off when I am ready again.
2. Super Easy To Share With Others
Am I referring to sharing the initial planting? Caring for the greens? Eating the greens? The answer is YES TO ALL OF THE ABOVE!
Because each step of growing is so easy and fast, there is really no barrier to entry. Everyone from my 4 year old child to my "I-kill-plants" friends can get in on the fun.
The greens get shared in family meals and salads for friends. My babysitter and I share a wheatgrass and ginger juice almost daily (did you know that wheatgrass is a type of microgreen?). In our apartment, I couldn't keep my kids away from my plants even if I wanted to, so it's a relief that microgreens are super kid-friendly (which will be the topic of an upcoming post, stay tuned!) . During their playdates I often find them at our windowsill showing their friends how to snap off and taste the greens, or checking out the roots. We plant together, care for the plants together and harvest the greens together. Even my husband gets a kick out of bottom watering the gardens and seeing the water absorb.
3. Affordable & High Quality Greens
I've heard that this is the reason that most people start growing microgreens. I wish I were that healthy, but in fact I only started appreciating how great it felt to eat lots of leafy green vegetables after I started growing microgreens.
Fruits and veggies have always been a big part of my diet, and I am very thankful that I have access to fresh produce that I can afford year round. Even so, I was never excited about buying leafy greens. They are expensive, and I was turned off by wilted and mushy leaves, the variety of tiny bugs in them (no two ever looked the same) and how quickly they would turn bad in my fridge.
My improved leafy-green situation
When I started growing microgreens, my leafy green situation changed overnight. Microgreens straight from the planter have no mushy or wilted leaves. They are easier to clean and have ZERO bugs. They stay fresh in my fridge for days, and they have so much flavor and nutrition compared to store bought greens. All of a sudden I found myself adding greens to my breakfast and all kinds of foods that I didn't used to and drinking wheatgrass juice daily. I even add them to the plates of raw veggies that I put out as a snack for my kids and guests. There may be no parenting-win that is quite as satisfying as watching two 6-year-old kids chomping away on pea shoots instead of junk food as they chat about pokemon and math homework.
4. So Much Fun!
This may go without saying for the plant parents out there, but planting with real soil and seeds is FUN. Seeing seeds germinate is fun, watching seedlings grow is fun, bottom-watering plants is fun, watching the plants lean toward the sun is fun, harvesting plants is fun, and eating and sharing homegrown food is FUN.
Microgreens let you experience every part of the planting cycle in a short 1-2 week period with minimal difficulty. It's just awesome.
5. To Learn From Nature
Like many of my fellow millenials, I am re-discovering the intangible benefits of nature. Most of us were formally taught the tangible benefits, like how plants and animals provide us food, and how trees produce oxygen and absorb CO2. I was rarely encouraged to explore the intangibles, like the comfort of plant care routines, the confidence of knowing where and how plants grow, and the IMMENSE joy of growing something you can actually eat. The tastiest lettuce and kale is no comparison to even my lesser crops of homegrown microgreens, because there is just no making up for that incredible mix of gratitude, pride and wonder in every bite of food that I grew myself.
When I started planting, I immediately started feeling all those intangibles. As anyone else who has spent hours browsing their neighborhood plant nursery or scrolling through plant pics on instagram knows, nature is wonderfully addictive. Knowing nature is clearly part of our human nature, and all of us, especially children, crave nature in our lives.
Each time I plant, grow & harvest a garden of microgreens I get to know nature and my own human nature a little better. That knowledge comes from the experience, and I can't buy it with money or get it in any container. It is part of what has drawn me to creating KnowingNature as a way to help kids and all people experience nature. Even after so many years of planting, I am still learning something new with each garden.