MICROGREENS: WHAT VARIETIES TO GROW

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If there is one aspect that makes microgreens particularly interesting from a gastronomic and nutritional point of view, it’s the possibility to use and cultivate a wide range of shapes, colors, textures and flavors. It’s simply impossible not to find a role for them in the kitchen to make our dishes outstand.

Generally, their flavor is a concentrate of the flavor of their ripe counterparts, rather than the other way around. The smell, on the other hand, can be intense, as in the case of aromatic species, or almost imperceptible for other types.

In terms of texture, there are tender species like green leafy vegetables, more succulent like sunflowers, and more crunchy like celery.

Colors range from green to yellow, to various shades of red and purple. We can list microgreens in regard to their taste; a more delicate taste (turnip top, spinach), spicy (radish, rocket), slightly sour or bitter as they could be cucumber or squash microgreens.

The journey to discover the numerous varieties of microgreens available is a fascinating and stimulating experience. An experience that will have a nutritional, economic, tasty and stimulating advantage for us and our creativity in the kitchen!

SOME SPECIES OF MICROGREENS DIVIDED INTO BOTANICAL FAMILIES

Brassicaceae: this family includes cauliflower, cabbage, cabbage, turnip greens, watercress, radish, rocket and mustard, and many others.

Asteraceae: therefore lettuce, chicory, radicchio, dandelion, calendula, stevia and others. All seedlings have a tender consistency, and they are among the easiest and fastest to grow.

Apiaceae: dill, carrot, fennel, celery, parsley.

Amaryllidaceae: garlic, onion, leek.

Amaranthaceae: amaranth, chard, spinach,

Cucurbitaceae: melon, cucumber, pumpkin, zucchini, loofah

Cereals: oats, wheat, corn, barley, rice, quinoa, rye.

Legumes: chickpeas, beans, lentils, peas, clover, alpha-alpha, soy.

Herbs: basil, chives, coriander, oregano, thyme, mint, cumin, sage, helichrysum

Within all these species we can use not just commercial varieties, but also wild edible greens and herbs with high nutritional value and characteristic flavors.

There are many wild edible species that can be enhanced through the production of microgreens, providing a wide range of colors, shapes and flavors.

Among the most interesting spontaneous plants to focus on to grow succulent microgreens, I personally include amaranth, borage, plantain, chicory, purslane, dandelion, and milk thistle.

In case you decide to collect wild edible plant seeds to use for your microgreen cultivation, it is important to verify that each specie is edible in their seedling stage. Perhaps it’s possible to use all those species whose edibility is well known, avoiding species whose seedlings are not edible. We know, for example, that very common vegetables such as tomatoes, eggplant, potatoes and peppers from the Solanaceae family, are edible only when fully ripe.

These tasty vegetables that we all commonly keep in our kitchens, come from plants with high content of alkaloids, so much that they are even used in permaculture for the production of repellent macerates. Consequently, the seedlings of these vegetables are not edible and  not suitable for microgreens production.

Microgreens: what varieties to grow

CONCLUSIONS

Once we are sure of the edibility of the plants we are growing; taste, smell and texture are fundamental factors that are too personal. To decide which species of micro-vegetables grow it’s better to make a further evaluation. The availability and quality of  the seeds, which must not be chemically treated and should be available for a reasonable price.

Finally, microgreens don’t need much to grow, but the specific needs of each single variety in terms of temperature must be taken into account, especially in case you wish to grow several varieties together. Having think this up, we are ready to grow our microgreen and finally enjoy them within a few weeks from sowing.

To learn more about cultivation techniques, you may want to check the article “How to grow your microgreens“.