Microgreens are young vegetable greens. Also known as micro herbs or vegetable confetti, they are rich in flavor and add a welcome splash of color and taste to a variety of dishes. Despite their relatively small size, they pack a nutritional punch. They often contain higher levels of nutrients than more mature vegetable greens. This makes them a good addition to any diet. Microgreens can be grown from many different seed types. If you are reading this article, then you’re probably wondering whether you can use bird seed for microgreens.
Birdseed can be used for microgreens. This, however, is not recommended because of several reasons. Birdseed can at times have additives that are not safe for human consumption. Also, some may contain chemicals or fungicides. The germination rate may also be slow too. Unlike regular food-safe seeds, bird seeds are not tested for pathogens.
So despite the fact that birdseed can be used for microgreens, you probably shouldn’t do it. We will endeavor in this article to inform you in detail whether you can use birdseed for microgreens, how you can use birdseed for microgreens, how to sterilize bird seeds for microgreens, and which microgreens grow best from birdseed. So read on to get the inside scoop. This will for sure be an insightful article for you!
Can You Use Bird Seed for Microgreens?
I’ve been pondering on this question for a while now. I’m probably not alone in this and if you made it this far in this article, chances are that we are in the same boat. If so, then just read on and you will get to know the truth of the matter.
Microgreens have become such a popular food for lots of people all around the world. They have a vibrant and strong flavor and are usually fast to grow. With this increased popularity, numerous people are finding more and more ways to grow them, using different types of seeds.
The most common seeds used include cauliflower, dill, cabbage, lentils, carrot, celery, spinach, lettuce among others. People have also resorted to using sunflower seeds to grow microgreens. But one question remains; can bird seeds be used for microgreens?
Bird seeds can be used for microgreens, but it isn’t a good idea to do so. Let me explain.
Birdseed can sometimes have vitamins and other additives that may not be safe for human consumption. Some may also be stored on wet floors in nurseries or warehouses that are non-food-safe conditions. Also, you don’t know if the bird seeds were treated with chemicals or fungicides and if they are safe for human consumption. Food-safe seeds are always tested for pathogens. Bird seeds on the other hand are not tested at all. Germination rate may also be an issue and it may result in mold problems during growth.
For microgreens, food safety is critical. That’s why if you do choose to go ahead and use bird seeds for microgreens, they need to be of the best quality and safe for human consumption. The seeds should be fresh and clean. They should also be free of chemicals and pests. They should also be sterilized before they are used.
Birdseed can have a few issues that may not come to your mind at first. So it’s good to think back on their supply chain and then work forward. This way, you will find the best bird seeds you can use for microgreens.
The best seeds are those that are fully mature. They also shouldn’t be stored for long if you want the best quality seeds. Generally, the longer these seeds are stored and the further they travel, the lower the quality becomes.
So to be on the safe side when using bird seeds for microgreens, it’s always best to invest in quality. I mean, look at it from the buyer’s perspective. Would you buy microgreens if you knew that they were grown from bird seeds? Probably not, right? So if you are set in stone on using bird seeds for microgreens, make sure you do it the right way.
How To Use Birdseed for Microgreens
As we have already mentioned, birdseed can be used for microgreens, though one needs to be extremely careful. So here’s how you can use birdseed for microgreens:
- Get your birdseed. When purchasing your birdseed, make sure that they are safe for human consumption. Make sure it’s of top quality.
- Sterilize your birdseed. You should sterilize your birdseed to get rid of any fungi that may be present. You can do this using either of the methods we discuss below.
- Soak the seeds until they start to sprout.
- After this, fill a nursery tray with a seeding mix. Sow the seeds across the tray and then cover it with another inverted tray.
- Water the tray from the bottom once or twice a day. Once the shoots begin to grow, remove the top tray.
- Move the tray to an area with adequate lighting. When they are ready, it’s time to harvest. Cut them off at soil level with scissors.
How Do You Sterilize Bird Seeds for Microgreens?
It’s important to disinfect the bird seeds because all seeds have the possibility of carrying foodborne pathogens. For maximum safety, it is recommended that all seeds you use for microgreens be disinfected.
Improper use of seed treatments can damage or kill your seeds. Always use raw seeds that haven’t been treated with fungicides or other products. Also, never use more than one of the sterilizing methods described here.
There are many methods of disinfecting your bird seeds and we are going to have a look at a couple of them. You should pick one that you will be most comfortable with.
Using Hydrogen peroxide, white vinegar, and water
- Prepare the sterilizing solution using 33Oz of water. Add 5 Oz of food grade 35% hydrogen peroxide, and 1 Oz of white vinegar.
- Soak your bird seeds in this solution for 10 minutes.
- Rinse the seeds thoroughly and then soak them in water for 10-14 hours, or overnight.
- Before planting the seeds, rinse them again.
Using Hot water
- Hot water will eradicate seed-borne fungi and bacteria. Here’s how you can sterilize your bird seeds using this method.
- Place the seeds loosely in a weighted nylon bag.
- Warm the seeds by soaking them in 100 degrees Fahrenheit water for 10 minutes.
- Transfer the seeds into a water bath already heated to about 120 degrees Fahrenheit. The seeds should be completely submerged in the water for about 10-15 minutes.
- After this, transfer the seeds into a cold water bath for 5 minutes to stop the heating action.
- Remove the seeds from the nylon bag and spread them evenly on clean paper towels. Allow them to dry completely.
Using Calcium Hypochlorite
- Add 3Oz calcium hypochlorite to 1 gallon of warm water. Mix thoroughly and add your bird seeds. Let it stand for 20 minutes.
- After this, drain and rinse the seeds in water.
When using this method, take care not to add water to calcium hypochlorite. Instead, make sure you add the calcium hypochlorite to water when mixing the solution.
Using Chlorine Bleach
- Add 1 quart of chlorine bleach to 5 quarts of water.
- Add a drop or 2 of liquid dishwashing detergent to the solution. Add the seeds to the disinfectant solution (about 1 pound of seeds per 4 quarts of the disinfectant solution will do).
- Agitate for 1 minute and then rinse the seeds in a cold water bath for 5 minutes. This will remove residual disinfectant.
- Spread the seeds evenly on clean paper towels to dry.
All these methods are effective in sterilizing your bird seeds for microgreens. So choose one that is most reliable to you.
Which Microgreens Grow Best From Birdseed?
Birdseed is made up of a variety of different ingredients as we have already mentioned. These include sunflower, safflower, corn, millet, peanuts, and much more. So with this in mind, you are probably wondering what microgreens you can grow best from birdseed. Well, in all honesty, several.
- Sunflower microgreens– They have a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture. They are a great source of calcium and iron. They are high in fiber and contain a wide variety of vitamins (A, B, C, D, and E) and minerals. These grow easily and fast. They are the most popular microgreens.
- Corn microgreens– They have a slightly sweet flavor. They are good for disease control, bone strength, improved immune systems, and healthy vision. They are a bit more labor-intensive than other types of microgreens but definitely worth it.
- Peanut microgreens– They contain rich minerals, amino acids, fat, and vitamins which makes them a great pick. They also grow easily.
Safflower and millet microgreens can also be grown from birdseed but these are less popular and also less nutritious. Therefore, the best microgreens to grow from birdseed are sunflower, corn, and peanut.
In conclusion, extreme care should be taken when using birdseed for microgreens. Regular food-safe seeds are usually tested for pathogens while bird seeds are not. So care should be taken to ensure that the microgreens from birdseed are actually safe for humans to consume. Follow the tips in this guide and all should be well.