AVRDC also worked on simple production schemes for small-scale production of sprouts and microgreens. The findings can be summarised as follows:
- Sprouts and microgreens can be grown from a wide range of crop seeds, all year round, at the homestead in containers on a terrace or windowsill, or commercially. Given the short growth cycle of 3-7 days for sprouts and 7-14 days for microgreens from sowing to harvest, they do not require fertilisers and pesticides.
- Seed intended for sprouting is washed and then soaked in water for six to twelve hours at room temperature. The soaked seed is placed in any suitable kitchen container, such as plates, bowls, pans and plastic trays, or packed into glass jars or other containers and covered with cheesecloth or greenhouse net to maintain constant temperature and a high moisture level.
- The seed needs to be rinsed or sprinkled with water at least once a day to keep humidity high and facilitate the sprouting process. Proper drainage is important for aeration and to avoid fungal and bacterial growth. Spring or distilled water is preferable for rinsing as chlorinated water may damage the embryo and result in poor sprouting.
Sprouts are grown in the dark in water. Microgreens are produced under light, either in soil or soil substitutes derived from organic or inorganic substrates. Another alternative for microgreen production is the use of troughs with hydroponic nutrient film from which plants can be easily pulled for harvest and eaten whole with roots. Microgreens require a lower seed density than sprouts. One or two days after germination, the seedlings are grown under light with good air circulation and normal humidity levels.
These conditions make microgreens less prone to bacterial contamination than sprouts. Seed must be kept moist at all times to facilitate complete germination. Clear plastic is a good cover for microgreen containers during seedling emergence and provides a mini-greenhouse effect. Once the seedlings have fully emerged (2–3 days), the plastic cover is removed.
Morning hours are best for harvesting the tender sprouts and microgreens and only the amount required for the daily meal should be collected as levels of vitamins decline with storage. Sprouts and microgreens can also be stored in a refrigerator for several days up to one week.
Microgreens are larger than sprouts, but smaller than baby vegetables or baby greens. Compared with sprouts, microgreens have superior flavor and aroma and present a wider range of textures and colors, which are attributable to the difference in growing conditions.
Source: Ebert, Andreas. (2013). Sprouts and microgreens for a nutritious diet. Rural 21. 42-43.
Useful Article: Sprouts And Microgreens For A Nutritious Diet