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Chasing Away the Winter Blues

by Karen Gonzalez, Collin County Master Gardener

As the weather gets colder and we start putting our gardens to bed for the winter, I’m sure some of us feel a twinge of sadness. For years, I found myself longing for my garden time and had an unfulfilled desire to provide nutritious homegrown food for my family through the winter months.

Fortunately, I discovered a remedy to my winter veggie blues — homegrown microgreens!  

Now, I’m a relative newcomer to this world of teeny-tiny vegetables. One late night in mid-2020, I was searching online for some particularly rare seeds when I curiously clicked a link referring to microgreens. One click led to another, then another and I fell into the rabbit hole of microgreens research. Before I knew it, it was 3AM and I’d spent a whopping $85 on supplies to get me started. It was just going to be an experiment because I was certain it would end up being too complicated and time consuming. I figured there was no way I actually had time for that!

Boy, was I wrong. Like many things in life, you can make your indoor garden as simple or as elaborate as you want! This is something almost anyone can do with the tiniest space. Depending on variety, microgreens can be ready anywhere from 7 to 21 days. For people like me, who love seeing the fruits of their labor as quickly as possible, the short growth cycle is a HUGE benefit. As far as food production goes, a microgreen harvest is as close to instant gratification as it gets! It is a lot of fun for the kids to experience and they can learn about the growth cycle of plants, too.

There are many reasons to jump into the adventure of growing this lovely veggie confetti. We love being able to grow greens in our house year-round. We eat them fresh in salads, sandwiches, soups and sautéed depending on the type of green. Since you cut them right before you consume, you will not find anything fresher than that!

Perhaps, the biggest advantage is the high nutritional value — the nutrient profile of microgreens is INCREDIBLE! A 2012 study measured the nutritional value of 25 commonly available microgreens and, using the USDA National Nutrient Database, discovered that while levels varied, many varieties had up to 40 TIMES the nutrients in comparison to their full-grown versions! Some of the nutrients found in microgreens include vitamins A, C and E, Omega-3s, copper, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, fiber, amino acids, protein, and antioxidants. WOW!

Microgreen farming is simple, fun, fast, nutrient dense, and delicious. It is also relatively inexpensive, especially when you consider that they cost about $35 per pound at Whole Foods. Growing microgreens has made me love kale for goodness sake! Yeah, you heard me — KALE.

I’ve only had 18 months of experience growing microgreens yet have had tremendous success growing many, many trays and pounds worth of these little beauties to share with my friends. I promise that you can do this, too!

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