Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Fast Food from Your Backyard

The Frugal Gardener - Gardening on a Budget

It's spring, the vivid array of colorful seed packages in Walmart catches your eye.  You say to yourself this year I'm gonna do it. This year I going to grow a few vegetables in my yard. It's not until you pick up the envelope of watermelon seeds that you are reminded of why you chickened out last spring. 
  • The most common plants used for growing microgreens are:
  • Lettuce.
  • Kale.
  • Spinach.
  • Radish.
  • Beet.
  • Watercress.
  • Herbs.
  • Greens.
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It's like sticker shock 80 to 85 days to harvest. Not willing to commit yourself to nurturing and caring for something that grows in the dirt for three months you reach for the tomato seeds. Six to eight weeks, better but still no Bueno. You eventually settle for the cute little cactus plant that now sits on your desk at work.

It doesn't have to be that way. Growing vegetables in your yard or in pots doesn't always require a long-term commitment. The photo above is me watering my freshly planted spinach seeds which will become micro greens in just two weeks. That's right in 14 days I will have what is commonly referred to as microgreens.
See definition below.

Here is what they looked like four days after planting. The silver tray is spinach, the tray in the foreground contains mustard greens. If left to grow to maturity this plant will be ready for harvest in about 35 days. By the way, the greens in the silver tray spent most of the four days in the basement.

Still too long, how about radishes. You can reap your bounty of radishes in a mere 23 days.
Radish              23 days
Garden Beans  40 days
Turnip greens   45 days
Lettuce            40 days

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture “microgreens” is a marketing term referring to tiny, edible greens grown from the seeds of vegetables and herbs. They’re smaller than baby greens and bigger than sprouts. Microgreens germinate in soil or soil substitute, require sunlight for growth and are harvested when they’re seven to 14 days old and one to three inches tall. Their flavor is much more intense than that of mature greens. You can add them to salads or use them to garnish soups and sandwiches.

Microgreens do appear to have a significant nutritional advantage. A study from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) found that, at equal weights, almost all of the tiny greens contained about five times more nutrients than found in the mature leaves of the same plants. The investigators measured essential vitamins and carotenoids, including vitamins C, E (tocopherols), K and beta-carotene in 25 commercially grown varieties of microgreens, including red cabbage, cilantro, garnet amaranth, and green daikon radishes.
Source - Dr. Weil Website

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