Thanks to a resurgence in the popularity of microgreens, more and more people are growing these nutritionally potent plants for personal use, and some have even started growing commercially. We recently sat down with a few folks who grow microgreens, from hobby to commercial, here's what we found out about these tiny greens.
What are the best plants to grow as microgreens from home?
It really comes down to what you enjoy. There are some that are more challenging to grow but taste amazing, like Swiss Chard and Sunflowers. Other varieties that are easier to grow are Broccoli, Purple Kohlrabi, Speckled Pea, Mustard, and Radish, to name a few. The cool thing about microgreens is there are so many varieties, and they grow so quickly that you can always try new crops till you find your favorites.
How did you start growing, and how long did it take you to scale up to a commercial grow?
We found out about microgreens through YouTube! We like to sit down and watch YouTube while having lunch, which always has us stumbling into watching random stuff. One day we came across one of those videos that claimed you can make as much as $10,000 a month growing and selling microgreens, and after watching it, we ordered our supplies to get started! We grew our first tray on January 31, 2019, and instantly became hooked because the turn over rate was so much faster than our adult plants we grew hydroponically at the time, they looked stunning, tasted amazing, and they were so good for you. By May 4, 2019, we had our business plan and sold our house to move back to the city to start On The Grow... we strongly believe in open source and share all of our growing techniques for free on YouTube for others to learn as well! You can start a commercial business selling microgreens for under $500, and it is very easy to scale up quickly.
Do you automate any of your grow process?
Currently, we do not automate our watering, but all of our lights and environmental controls are automated. We have made a few automatic watering systems such as Flood and Drain and NFT systems... we made full DIY walkthrough videos for the community, but we took those systems down to continue with more experiments. The automatic watering systems are nice for commercial growing, but we like to experiment, and they limited us on that.
What are the most nutritionally viable microgreens?
Pea Shoots. All microgreens are packed with vitamins, and pea shoots are no exception. The nutritional value of pea shoots contains beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, an essential building block for the human body, and fiber.
Radish Sprouts. Looking at a list of nutrients for radish sprouts is like the info panel on a bottle of multivitamins. These are some seriously great little plants. In addition to vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, they also deliver calcium iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Radish sprouts are abundant in essential amino acids and chlorophyll, both of which have cancer-fighting properties. They also contain a whole lot of fiber, which we all know is essential to help keep things running smoothly.
Sunflower Shoots. Much like other microgreens, sunflower shoots have an impressive nutritional profile. They are a complete plant protein. Sunflower shoots contain all of the essential amino acids as well as iron, potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, and phosphorous. They are particularly high in zinc, which has many benefits, including a boost to the immune system and digestive regularity. As if all this weren't enough, sunflower shoots also deliver vitamins A, B complex, D, and E.
Wheatgrass. There are excellent reasons that wheatgrass has been one of the prevailing microgreens. Wheatgrass is plentiful in vitamins A, B complex, C, and E. It also contains iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, and selenium. Many of these aids in proper thyroid function, improves blood flow, helps lower risk of heart disease, and may even be linked to appropriate respiratory function. Did I mention it's also an immune-booster? What's not to love?