Monday, September 30, 2013

Growing Microgreens and Wheatgrass

     Microgreens are very easy to grow indoors. I have some shelves on a wall that I place mine on. Usually within a week they are ready to eat. Some take a bit longer than others but generally they grow quickly and need minimal light. Wheatgrass is the same way. It doesn't need to be near a window and grows very quickly.

     Here is the process: First you soak the larger seeds. I soak my buckwheat, sunflower, wheatgrass, and barley grass seeds. This softens the hull of the seed so it can sprout easier once on the soil. You don't have to do this but I have found that it takes longer to grow if you don't. For the smaller seeds such as Pak Choi, Radish, Arugula, and Mustard I don't bother soaking. The seeds are small and are sprouted within a day. Additionally, making the smaller seeds wet would also make it much for difficult to spread them evenly on the tray.

The seeds closest to the front are the buckwheat seeds. Some of them float and some of them sink. This doesn't matter. They are all okay to use in the trays.

These are the sunflower seeds up close as they soak.

These are the wheatgrass seeds as they soak.

After they have soaked for a day I go ahead and plant them. The directions I got when I first ordered the kit said to soak for 8-12 hours. Then it said to drain the water and let them sit for another 8-12 hours with a wet paper towel over them. Finally, it instructed you to plant them.

I have started letting them soak for 12-24 hours and then planting them. This has worked out fine for me so far.

I take a tray and add about 5 cups of dirt and spread it evenly throughout the tray. I have started getting the trays with and without drainage holes. I put the dirt in the one with the drainage holes and then place that one into the tray without holes. This enables me to catch the water and keeps the water from sitting in the tray too long and becoming moldy which can happen if you plant them in the tray without any holes.

I get my trays from the local Brew & Grow store and sometimes from local home improvement and garden shops.

Above you can see the dirt spread in the tray. In this particular tray I partitioned off several sections because I want to grow several kinds of greens in the same tray. In this particular one I did Pak Choi, Arugula, Mustard, and Radish. With the smaller seeds I sow about two teaspoons of seeds for a WHOLE TRAY so for the partial tray I used about half a teaspoon of seeds since these seeds are so much smaller. When I use the larger seeds such as Wheatgrass, Buckwheat, Sunflower, or Barley Grass I use almost a whole cup of seeds in a tray.

Once the seeds are placed in the dirt I water it very well to get everything nice and moist since this is what helps the seeds sprout. This is important with all of your trays but especially the ones with the smaller seeds that you did not soak. It is the adding of the moisture that helps them break through their hulls and grow. If you don't keep them moist the growth process will be stopped or at the very least delayed.

After two days this is what the Wheatgrass looks like (above) and the Sunflower greens (below)
Two days later (four days in the tray) here is what the Wheatgrass and Sunflower greens look like, respectively:
After six days the Wheatgrass can start to be cut and used (7 days total if you include the day to soak it)
Below you can see the Sunflower greens after 6 days. The hulls remain atop the greens so you pick them off when you use them. It doesn't hurt if you eat a couple. These could start to be cultivated and eaten. I will probably wait another day.
The microgreens have traditionally been used as garnishes in restaurants but are finally being recognized for the amazing nutritional value. I put them in my salads. I have used all microgreens to make my salads. They pack an amazing nutritional punch, are beautiful to grow, and taste amazing, not to mention they grow very quickly.

So now that you know how to grow them. Let's talk more about why you should grow them.

Microgreens pack more nutrients than mature leaves from the same plant. They usually have 4-6 times more nutrients but exact numbers vary due to where it is grown, when it is harvested, and the soil medium used. It usually takes 7 days of sunlight and soil before they are ready to be harvest but again this varies depending on the seed type, where it is grown, when it is harvest and the soil medium used.
In addition to the ones I mentioned growing above, such as Pak Choi, Arugula, Mustard, Radish, Sunflower, and Buckwheat some other common ones are Daikon Radish, Cilantro, and Basil. There are many additional kinds as well.
Microgreens are harvested during the cotyledon stage of development. This is when the first true leaves sprout. It is after the germination and sprouting stage but before the plant fully develops its root and leaf structures.
What is the difference between a sprout and a microgreen? When you consume sprouts you are consuming the root in addition to the little plant that is starting to grow. With microgreens you are not eating the root, you are only eating the stem and leaves.

Wheatgrass increases your red blood cell count. It lowers blood pressure. It cleanses blood, organs, and the gastrointestinal tract of debris. It stimulates our metabolism and our body's enzyme systems by enriching our blood. It aids in reducing blood pressure by dilating blood pathways throughout the body. Wheatgrass stimulates the thyroid gland, corrects obesity, indigestion, and a host of other complaints. It alkalizes the body which helps in treating a host of gastrointestinal issues. It is a powerful detoxifier and liver and blood protector. Enzymes and amino acids found in wheatgrass protect us from carcinogens like no other food or medicine. It strengthens our cells, detoxifes the liver, and bloodstream, and chemically neutralizes environmental pollutants. Wheatgrass fights tumors and neutralizes toxins. It generally cleanses the blood and neutralizes and digests toxins in our cells. It contains beneficial enzymes that help your body work - whether it is healing a cut or losing weight. Last but not least, it is remarkably similar to our blood. It slows aging, heals our skin, provides oral care, restores fertility, and promotes youthfulness.

Above is a picture of the composition of chlorophyll and our blood. The similarity in structure between the two is what has earned wheatgrass the name of "Green Blood". Additionally, our bodies thrive in an alkaline state. The hydrogen content is what determines alkalinity and its content in our blood is 7.4. Wheatgrass has the same hydrogen content/alkalinity of 7.4
I can't say enough about this amazing food. I can however encourage you to start out by drinking one ounce and then increasing weekly from there. You should start out small because it's such a powerful detoxifier that it can give you an upset stomach if you are not careful. I also encourage you to wait two hours after eating before you drink it. I also encourage you to wait to eat for at least thirty minutes once you drink it.

Recommendations for choosing seeds and soil:

Make sure your seeds are organic, have a high germination rate, and are microbially tested.

If you want suggestions of brands or companies to use you can email me. I don't want anyone to think I am being paid to advertise a certain brand. I write my blogs because I love natural health and nutrition. I also love showing others how to do these things for themselves and enjoy seeing people thrive and live to their highest potential.

For the soil, I use mushroom compost which is very cheap, doesn't have chemicals, and can be purchased from your local hardware and/or home improvement store. Be careful to not buy your run of the mill potting soil especially if it has fertilizers and stuff in there otherwise you will be ingesting those chemicals.

Please feel free to email me with any questions or to book a workshop where I can demonstrate and show you in person how to grow these amazing living foods.