When I first started an urban farming business last year growing microgreens, I was REALLY new to the whole process. I didn’t know exactly what I was doing, because I started out growing microgreens as a hobby. Only when I saw how beautiful they were and tasted their flavor did I decide to don my entrepreneurial hat and start selling them to restaurants around town.
When I was learning how to grow microgreens better, I came across this site by Mark Mathew Braunstein and devoured all of the content (despite the “90′s” look of the site. I’ve been around since the Angelfire and Geocities days too, so I couldn’t fault the design of the site – especially when the information on growing microgreens was so good.)
Mark’s info helped me grow healthier microgreens in bigger quantities…but I still wanted more. I was going deep into the process of microgreen cultivation, learning the right seed spacing, watering techniques, soil requirements, and even harvesting techniques…but there had to be a resource I could turn to to know how the commercial growers do it so successfully.
Out of the blue, I got an email from a gardening book publisher letting me know that Mark was releasing a book on microgreens, asking if I wanted to check it out. What kind of question was that? Of course I would!
Just a few days later I had the book in my hands.
The book takes you from an absolute beginner’s perspective all the way to the most intricate details of growing microgreens – all in 104 well-illustrated pages. I’ve gone ahead and summarized what you’ll learn in each of the main chapters below. Enjoy!
Starting Your Garden
Great introduction to the philosophy behind microgreens and what makes them different than most of the plants that you’re used to growing. Hint: they’re not that different!
Because microgreens are harvested at such a young age, it’s really important to choose the right seeds for each variety. Mark goes into incredible detail in this section, outlining the easiest seeds to start with, as well as the type of seeds you should look for (organic, untreated, which cultivar..) and how to care for them to maximize production
Sowing and Watering
When I started growing microgreens for the first time, the sowing and watering phase was by far the hardest thing to get a handle on. I tested around 10 different types of soil, coco coir, and even hydroponic mats, all with mixed results. When it came to watering, I just couldn’t seem to come up with a method that gave my plants adequate moisture without causing a lot of mold – which is a serious no-no when you’re selling to local restaurants.
In this section, Mark outlines exactly what soil you need depending on the type of plant you’re growing, as well as the best ways to water (hint: it’s simpler than you think!)
Germination and Growth
One of the more frustrating parts of growing micros is weak growth, or even a failure for most of the seeds in the tray to germinate. This section covers the most common problems people have with germination and growing high quality micros, with some great suggestions on lighting, warmth, and seed-specific strategies.
Harvesting and Storing
Knowing how to harvest and store your micros after you’ve grown them is crucial – especially if you’re selling them commercially. The last thing you want to do is deliver a batch to a local restaurant or a buyer at a farmer’s market, only to have them call you up and let you know that the microgreens went bad the very next day. Because you harvest at such an early stage, these plants are very fragile and require some really unique harvesting and storing techniques to make sure you are able to enjoy them for as long as possible.
Planting in Containers
If you’re a home grower looking to supplement your diet with these superfoods, Mark goes into some cool tips about planting in fruit containers,
Planting in Trays
If you just can’t get enough micros and need massive quanitities (or if you’re a commercial grower), this section is for you. Growing in trays requires a different approach and Mark outlines the things to consider when growing in trays.
Growing Sunflower and Pea Microgreens
Sunflower and pea microgreens are some of the most popular micros both commercially and for home growers – but they require a unique approach due to their seeds. These are two plants that we actually EAT both seeds as normal food, so it stands to reason that they need to be grown in a different way. Mark shows you exactly how to have a successful sunflower or pea microgreen harvest.
Bonus: Sunflower microgreens are delicious
In my opinion, this section alone is worth the purchase price of the book. Every plant is different, so it stands to reason that each type of microgreen that you grow will need slightly different watering, spacing, and lighting requirements to really thrive. This section breaks down the easiest and most popular microgreens, giving you all of the conditions that they need to thrive.
As if dropping this much knowledge on growing microgreens wasn’t enough, Mark then offers some really tasty ways to mix your micros into dishes. If you want to eat them in different ways than micro salads or garnishes, this section is for you.
Start Your Microgreen Garden!
This is the book I wish I had when I first started growing microgreens. It would have saved me hours of headaches figuring out how to water, light, supplement, harvest, and store my micros. No matter if you’re a home grower or someone looking to set up a small commercial growing operation, Microgreen Garden by Mark Mathew Braunstein will help you grow microgreens like a true master of the garden.