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If you happen to ask a person on the street about microgreens, chances are you will get these answers:
“Aren’t they the same as sprouts?”
“Is it the pretty plant used for decorations?”
According to many people, “microgreens” is simply another word to call “sprouts." However, the reality is contrary to popular belief. So what is the difference between microgreens, and sprouts?
Scroll down if you are eager to know the answer!
How Microgreens Differ From Sprouts
#1 Growing environment
The very first difference is related to the environment for two plants to grow and thrive. While sprouts flourish in water, microgreens are typically grown in soil or peat moss.
Soils for growing microgreens should contain adequate amounts of nutrients, including organic matter, and minerals. Otherwise, your microgreens will suffer from weak growth, and mold proliferation.
To add nutrients into soils, make use of organic fertilizer, compost, or topsoil. These will not only provide plenty of organic matter and minerals, but they also add essential microorganism for the plants.
On the other hand, planting sprout seeds is relatively straightforward. Simply repeat the process of soaking the seeds in water, rinsing, draining, and you will grow fresh sprouts right in your kitchen. There is no specific requirement for the water, but the growing environment should be extremely humid with dim light.
The word “sprouting” refers to a stage of plant growth, in which the embryo develops its stem. If you let the sprout seeds grow, there will be a full and healthy plant. But until then, you will have the crunchy sprouts that are ready for serving and cooking. These sprouts are tasty with abundant amounts of fiber, protein, essential nutrients, and enzymes.
Microgreens, meanwhile, have undergone the complete process of growing, and developing. That said, they boast stems and leaves as any plants out there. The seeds are inedible, however.
You should not mistake microgreens for baby greens. Baby greens are the leafy plants harvested before maturation; so they do not fit into any particular growth stages.
As mentioned above, while sprouting is generally a stage in the growth cycle, microgreens refer to the full plant. Therefore, it is understandable that it takes longer to grow microgreens than sprout seeds.
I had been investigating microgreens, and sprouts for quite a long time, and I came across a useful article by Linda Claire yesterday. He is an herb specialist, and owner of GrowHerbsGarden.com. He gave plenty of helpful advice on growing these two plants, and I think you should read the post carefully when you have time.
According to Linda Claire, the suitable time for harvesting sprouts is after four to six days of planting. With microgreens, you need approximately one or two weeks to allow microgreens to get ready for cooking purposes.
As they are fully developed, microgreens carry more flavors inside compared to their younger versions; sprouts. Their fresh leaves are typically served in garnished dishes in restaurants. The concentrated flavors of microgreens allow customers to enjoy freshness after each bite.
Meanwhile, the tastes of sprouts depend on the kinds of seeds. With Alfalfa sprouts, they are quite crunchy and mild. Beet sprout seeds taste extremely sweet, and slightly earthy.
#5 Nutritional Value
Linda Claire also pointed out that microgreens contain a little more nutrition than sprouts do, particularly fiber. However, sprouts still have a decent amount of nutrition as mentioned above. Feel free to serve sprout seeds in your meals.
One word of caution: boil the sprout seeds before serving to kill off bacteria. As you know, sprouts grow in areas with high humidity levels, the perfect conditions for bacteria to thrive.
How To Grow Microgreens Properly
Below I will present you with a step-by-step guide for growing microgreens successfully. You will need:
- A shallow tray
- Organic Soil
- Microgreen seeds
- A bottle spray
- Fertilizers, compost or topsoil
- Step 1: Select a few microgreen crops. If you are a newbie, go for some easy planting seeds. Basil, arugula, radish, and sunflower are suitable for beginners.
- Step 2: Mix your soil and spread on the tray. Remember to add fertilizers, so that the soil has essential nutrients for the microgreens to absorb. Create a flat surface, but do not compress the soil too much.
- Step 3: Scatter the seeds on the tray, as evenly as possible.
- Step 4: Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, then mist the soil with clean water. You should use a spray bottle for the best results.
- Step 5: Place the tray near the window with plenty of sunlight. You also grow the microgreen crops outside if the weather is warm enough.
- Step 6: Keep the soil moist evenly to germinate the seeds.
- Step 7: After one or two weeks, check the tray and harvest the microgreens. They should be ready for cooking, and eating purposes.
Now you know the detailed differences between microgreens and sprouts. Do not mix them up the next time you come across these two tasty plants!
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