Microgreens are becoming quite popular nowadays because of how people have discovered that they are more nutritious than their seed or full-grown counterparts. That said, many people are now growing their own microgreens at home. But, when you are growing microgreens, do you have to use microgreen seeds? If so, what makes microgreen seeds different from regular seeds, in the first place?
The major difference between microgreen seeds and regular seeds is that the former have a relatively shorter germination time, which will allow you to grow them faster. Microgreen seeds are also more expensive because there is better quality control and attention to detail when it comes to how they are packaged.
Technically, there aren’t a lot of differences between microgreen seeds and regular seeds because they are generally quite similar. The truth is that you can even go without using microgreen seeds your entire life as long as you know how to properly grow microgreens. That said, let us talk more about what makes these two seeds different from one another so that you can decide which ones to buy when you grow your own microgreens.
What makes microgreen seeds special?
If you are wondering what makes microgreen seeds special, then you should know that there aren’t a lot of things too special about them aside from the fact that they are bred and packaged to be specifically sold for those who are looking for plant seeds that they can grow to become microgreens.
Look at it this way. There are some greens that are commonly grown as microgreens. So, by picking those seeds and choosing the ones that are of the best quality, those who breed vegetable seeds would be able to package these seeds as microgreen seeds so that those who are specifically looking for seeds that they can grow microgreens from don’t have to put a lot of effort into looking for specific plant seeds anymore. They can just simply buy the seeds that are packaged as microgreen seeds.
Of course, because these seeds are carefully selected and handpicked, you can expect them to be of a higher quality compared to other seeds. This is probably the single quality that makes these seeds special.
Regular seeds – about them
What are regular seeds?
Now that we have talked more about microgreens and microgreen seeds, let us now talk more about regular seeds. These seeds are basically seeds that come from the product of a female flower-bearing plant when it is bred together with a pollen-producing male plant. As such, when regular seeds are grown, they would either become male or female versions of the plants where the seeds were harvested from.
Growing regular seeds is pretty much basic as you need to germinate them and wait for the seeds to sprout before you plant them in the soil where they can get the nutrients that they need to grow into plants. This is the usual seed-to-plant life cycle of a regular plant or any vegetable green, for that matter.
So, how does this relate to microgreens? Well, it’s because microgreens are just basically immature versions of the mature plants that can grow from regular seeds. You can get microgreens by planting regular seeds and harvesting the microgreens just right after they have developed their cotyledons. So, in a sense, you are just actually cutting off the life cycle at the point where the greens are at the right size to be harvested as microgreens or by putting in place specific measures that will prevent the greens from growing into mature plants.
That said, regular seeds are just your typical seeds. There is nothing special about them in terms of the way they are produced or in how they are handled and stored. And quality control is seemingly standard when it comes to your regular seeds.
What do regular seeds grow into?
Generally, regular seeds can grow into any plant depending on the seeds you purchased. However, if you purchased specific seeds for specific plants that you can consume as leafy greens, then regular seeds will grow into those plant varieties. And when you give them time to grow and mature, these regular seeds can grow into full-grown leafy greens that should form a good part of any balanced diet.
However, you can also use your regular seeds to grow microgreen versions of the leafy vegetables that they grow into. As long as you know how to grow microgreens, you will be able to produce them properly from regular seeds.
Differences between microgreen seeds and regular seeds
Now that we have talked more about what microgreen seeds and regular seeds are, we are now here to discuss what makes these two different seeds different from one another. After all, they wouldn’t produce microgreen seeds and market them as such if they are generally just the same as regular seeds. Or would they?
So, in that regard, you will be surprised to know that there aren’t really a lot of differences between microgreen seeds and regular seeds. In terms of quality control, microgreen seeds are simply superior seeds as they guarantee better and faster germination compared to regular seeds. In short, expect your microgreen seeds to sprout more often than not and to germinate faster than your regular seeds.
The same kind of quality control that microgreen seeds enjoy also allows them to produce high-quality microgreens that are almost certainly going to be edible and are more likely to have the same expected taste and nutritional values that microgreens should have. Meanwhile, compared to regular seeds, they are still capable of growing into microgreens but there is no certainty or assurance that they will have the same quality in terms of taste and nutritional value. It’s not even uncommon for some regular seeds to turn out to be inedible microgreens, and that is something that you wouldn’t want to happen.
Of course, because of the quality control and the attention to detail that are put into producing or breeding microgreen seeds, these seeds are going to come with a heftier price tag compared to regular seeds. So, if you don’t want to compromise quality and assurance, microgreens can be the better option for you.
Convenience-wise, it is also better for you to go for microgreen seeds because they already come packed as seeds of the plants that are commonly grown as microgreens. You can even find seed mixes that come with some of the most commonly grown microgreens. In comparison, you would have to buy the specific regular seeds of the greens themselves if you are going to be using regular seeds.
However, if you are not willing to spend a lot of money on microgreen seeds and you are confident that you can grow good microgreens using your regular seeds, then you can always opt for regular seeds. In fact, most of the experienced microgreen growers used regular seeds because they already know what to do to harvest high-quality microgreens.
In short, aside from quality control and attention to detail, there really aren’t any differences between microgreen seeds and regular seeds. Both of them will still end up growing into microgreens or mature plants, whichever of the two you are aiming for.
Can you use regular seeds for microgreens?
We have been mentioning over and over again that regular seeds can be used for growing microgreens. In short, you don’t need microgreen seeds or any other special seeds to grow microgreens in your home. All you need are your regular seeds and the knowledge and know-how to properly grow microgreens.
So, how do you use regular seeds to grow microgreens? Here is a quick guide that will help you grow your usual regular seeds into good-quality microgreens that you can add to your regular diet:
- Germinate the seeds so that they will sprout. This is the first thing you need to do when growing any regular seed at home as you would have to make sure that the seeds sprout before planting them in the soil. You can use the paper towel method or germinating your seeds.
- After germinating the seeds, transfer the sprouted seeds to a large enough pot or to a garden bed. Space the sprouted seeds closely each by each. When you want to grow regular plants from seeds, you need to space them far apart so that they won’t compete for nutrients. But because you want your seeds to grow as a microgreens, keeping them close to one another and this should be the best way to plant them.
- The soil in your pot/container or your garden bed should only be about two inches deep and the seeds shouldn’t be covered with the soil (this is the difference between growing microgreens vs. regular vegetables, because then it needs to be covered with the soil). Your goal here is to get a bunch of tasty microgreens, so that you will get quite a yield of microgreens to eat.
- Mist the seedlings gently regularly and convert your pot with something and make sure that they get at least six to eight hours of natural light each day. You can also grow them indoors by making use of a pot or container but make sure that the seedlings are placed near the window where they can get plenty of sunlight.
- You don’t want the soil to dry out but you also have to make sure that you don’t flood the soil with too much water. Also, fertilizing them isn’t important because you are going to harvest the plants while they are still young. They don’t need the additional nutrients from fertilizer because your goal is to prevent them from growing into mature plants. However, the organic matter in your garden bed or fertilized soil can be good as they would provide the seedlings with enough nutrition to stay healthy.
- As time will pass, you will notice the microgreens developing true leaves or cotyledons. This will happen sometime between 10 to 14 days after the seeds were germinated. You will be able to harvest them once this happens.
- When harvesting your microgreens, snip them just above soil level. Do not pluck them out of the soil because you are not harvesting mature leafy greens here. So, by snipping them, you may be able to harvest the microgreens multiple times because you are not plucking them out from the root.
- And even if the old roots don’t end up producing new microgreens, just leave them there to serve as organic matter for a fresh new batch of microgreens. You can just repeat everything from the top by germinating your regular seeds.
As you can see, growing regular seeds into microgreens can be quite easy to the point that you don’t have to buy microgreen seeds. But if you are after quality and assurance, you are still free to use microgreen seeds instead of regular seeds. The process of growing them will be pretty much the same but microgreen seeds have a higher germination rate and will end up growing slightly faster than regular seeds.
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What seeds are good for microgreens?
Once you have decided that you want to buy microgreen seeds or regular seeds to grow your own microgreens in your own garden at home, you might be wondering which greens are the best for you. However, you should know that this boils down to personal preferences because you have to take into consideration the flavor and the nutritional value of the microgreens when you are choosing which greens you want to grow in your garden.
Still, there are some common microgreens that people often grow at home. These include broccoli, arugula, beets, radish, sunflower, pea (buying seeds in US), salad mix and herbs. The usual factor that people usually look at when choosing which microgreens to grow is flavor because, let’s face it, you want to eat greens that are not only healthy but are also tasty. And no matter how healthy a certain microgreen might be, you would dread eating it if you don’t like its taste.
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