A micro experiment

With the completion of our newly installed Children’s Greenhouse, members of the Greenhouse Committee decided to use the space for an initial season of winter growing without the use of heat. The Committee's first microgreen trial is currently underway. Microgreens are often known to Farm-to-Table and health food enthusiasts as an easy to grow, vitamin packed food source. Microgreens are an easy-to-grow, four-season indoor crop. It can take as few as eight to fourteen days for seedlings to be table-ready after germination. We’re currently testing broccoli, pea tendril, radish, kale, cilantro, and a chard/beet combo in a 4’x8’ cold frame within the greenhouse.  Plants are kept warm with electric “grow” mats and maintained by volunteers.

Thanks to a generous donation of a greenhouse cloud-based wireless sensor by our friend and volunteer Murray Penny, we’ll soon be able to monitor growing conditions off-site, as well as provide data for future education and research applications.  And thanks to volunteers Chris Cameron and Pete Carroll for helping to launch this new initiative, Saratoga Organics for their discount on materials, GreenTree Garden Supply for donating our growing medium, and to board member Jody Terry, for underwriting the project.

A mighty group of helpers assisted last week with planting 5 different kinds of microgreens in two different styles of trays. The kids will return to see whether the trays with air holes grew faster or stronger than the trays with no air holes.

So what exactly is the difference between  microgreens, sprouts, and baby greens?

As detailed in this AP News article:

Microgreens are usually slightly larger than sprouts, are grown in soil rather than water for more taste and nutrient quality, and notably are already producing their first growth of tiny leaves that sprouts don’t yet have. Baby greens are allowed to grow longer to gain enough size for entire salads and side dishes, yet still have tender leaves and great flavor.  The most popular microgreen flavors come from peas, carrots, broccoli, arugula, beets and mustards.

Sprouts are the youngest of the seedling family, and the entire plant can be eaten, including shoots and roots, according to horticulturists with North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Popular seeds for sprouting include sunflowers, lentils, peas, mustards and alfalfa.

Baby greens, of which generally only the leaves are eaten, include spinach, lettuces and a variety of colorful herbs.”

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