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Microgreens make a healthier you and a greener planet 

Hello, I’m Bonnie Groessl, and today I want to introduce you to a little secret of nature that is close to my heart. As someone who grew up on a Wisconsin family farm, I have a fascination with the extraordinary power of natural foods, and in particular, microgreens. These incredible plants represent a link to our past as well as a gateway to a healthier future. The fact they are delicious is a tasty bonus! 

I am a holistic nurse practitioner by education and a lifelong enthusiast of organic gardening and sustainable living. The natural world dictated the rhythm of life growing up on our family’s dairy farm in eastern Wisconsin. We all had our chores to do and the growing season was the busiest time of year. It was a way of life for many families in an age prior to the big corporate farms that dominate today’s farming industry. 

This connection with the earth is something I continue to pursue today, whether it is with my extensive gardens during the short Wisconsin summers or the trays of microgreens I keep handy inside our house all year round. Microgreens offer a simple, accessible way to nurture my relationship with the natural world while providing a delicious food source that I know is free of chemicals or preservatives. 

What are microgreens? 

Microgreens are young vegetable greens that you harvest just after the first leaves develop. They are the seedlings of various vegetables and herbs. Some of the most popular varieties are radish, beet, broccoli and kale. 

From a culinary perspective, microgreens are a foodie’s dream. They add color, texture, and distinct flavor to any dish. Their fresh, sometimes intense flavors range from peppery to tangy, making them the perfect addition to salads, sandwiches, an edible garnish, and even an ingredient in smoothies. 

Microgreens are different from sprouts in that you harvest them just above the soil line, leaving the roots behind to be composted along with the growing medium. Sprouts are grown without soil and consumed whole. Sprouts are also more susceptible to bacteria that can cause foodborne illnesses due to the wet, warm conditions required to grow them. 

Sustainability and self-sufficiency with microgreens 

Growing your own microgreens is a step toward creating a more sustainable lifestyle. Many people find this to be a fulfilling choice given the current challenges with climate change and environmental degradation. Microgreens require minimal water, resources or space, and you can naturally compost the leftover growing medium and plant roots rather than toss them in the garbage and send to a landfill. 

If you’re like me, you will feel a sense of comfort in growing your own food, even if it makes up only a small portion of your overall diet. This self-sufficiency was part of our upbringing on the farm, where we always had something to eat that came from our land or the animals we raised. 

Cultivating microgreens is more relevant today than ever. We are not just nurturing our spirit, we are contributing to a greener planet. 

Microgreens are nutritional powerhouses 

As a holistic nurse practitioner, the nutritional value of microgreens is very exciting. They pack a punch when it comes to nutrients despite their small size. 

Concentrated nutrients – Microgreens contain higher concentrations of vitamins and minerals than their mature versions. Studies show that some varieties can feature as much as 40 times higher nutrient levels. This means even a small serving of microgreens can provide a significant nutritional boost. 

Rich in antioxidants – Microgreens are an abundant source of antioxidants. These compounds are key tools in helping our bodies fight off chronic diseases and maintain good health. 

Heart health and beyond – Some microgreens have been identified as having properties that are good for your heart, such as the ability to reduce the level of bad cholesterol in your blood. They can also play a role in reducing chronic conditions such as diabetes. 

A simple guide to growing microgreens 

We cultivate microgreens in soil or a soil-less growing mediums such as hydroponic mat confetti or soil pucks called coco coir (often pronounced “coco core”). These mediums are lighter than garden soil, providing more air between the particles. This makes it easier for roots to grow and spread. They are compostable, just like garden soil. 

Spread the seeds evenly over your chosen growing medium. Unlike traditional gardening, it’s not a big deal if you sow them rather closely together as they won’t be growing to full size. In fact, you will be harvesting them when they are only 1-3 inches in height. 

Microgreens don’t need as much light as mature plants, but they do need some light to promote photosynthesis. A sunny windowsill, a grow light, or even a kitchen countertop that enjoys some natural light should be enough. Check on the moisture level twice a day, keeping the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. 

Use a scissors to harvest your microgreens just above the soil line. Depending on the variety and growing environment, you should be able to harvest most microgreens in 7-14 days. 

Conclusion 

Gardening in any form can be therapeutic. I know it is for me. It connects me with the cycle of life and grounds me in the present moment. Growing microgreens can bring peace to your mind and balance to your busy life. I like to think of it as a way of reconnecting with the earth and tapping into its healing powers. 

The simplicity of growing microgreens reminds me of the bounty available from the earth, which is certainly something that resonates with my farming background and holistic nurse practitioner education. Growing microgreens is a culinary trend as well as a lifestyle choice. It is about embracing sustainability, nurturing our health, and perhaps even rediscovering the joy of watching something grow. Plus, it’s so easy to do that even beginners can easily enjoy success. 

Microgreens provide an opportunity to return to the basics. I feel like I am returning to a time when I would help my grandmother with her garden on the family farm as a child. Our family was in tune with the land and the seasons, and we were brought up to respect that relationship. 

Whether you are an experienced gardener or a beginner, I encourage you to join me on this journey. We can grow a healthier, more sustainable future for ourselves and our planet, and in the process enjoy the deliciousness of natural foods grown right in our own home. 

To your health and happiness!

Bonnie Groessl