Date: 25 February 2020. Microgreens
Seeds to Harvest (part 3)
When I was a little girl on our 40'er, I would
cut pictures out of magazines. Those pictures were invariably of
steak and salads. Never lobster, as that was a normal part of the
menu. Salads were few and far between. We did not have refrigeration
for many years. In any event, discovering that I can successfully
grow my own rabbit food has been life changing. This is my personal
epiphany and I invite you to share in my joy.
The boat I grew up aboard:
The impetus for my journey into small scale gardening
aboard Seaweed is as a direct result of a vacation I took with my
daughter and her family to Walt Disney World here in Florida. I told
you about that in the
article. There, we took a special behind-the-scenes tour of the
Disney facility's hydroponics area. I was fascinated.
Pausing for a Grandma moment: My
Grand danced with Mary Poppins at Disney.
But I digress...
The realization that I could duplicate to some degree the Disney
system of growing food was an eye-opener. Though I did not end with a true hydroponics set-up, I am satisfied that even a person
with zero skills can grow at least some of their own salad
requirements. As a matter of fact, here is my Complete garden:
By utilizing a couple dozen soap dishes I am able to
have healthy home-grown salad each day.
Generally I harvest four to six soap containers daily. That
satisfies my appetite quite nicely.
In my home I do not have space for the
larger containers some prefer. I opted for what would fit
best in my limited space. In considering the options available, I am
rather pleased to have chosen the smaller soap dishes. One provides
a light topping to a sandwich in lieu of lettuce. Two or three can
be added to chicken broth for a mock-Chinese soup dish. Four
generally make a nice salad for me.
microgreens growing aboard Seaweed is both practical and fun.
I am able to provide some of my basic foodstuffs with a few minutes
of effort twice
each day. Every morning and afternoon I add one teaspoon of water to
each container. That's all I do until harvest time.
Black permanent marker works well on old bread tags
to label each crop.
This is how you can grow your own
Cut foam and layer approximately 1/4" thick to
fit inside your soap dish. Wrap with a paper towel. Then add
water to dampen the paper.
Add seeds. I spread/sprinkle
approximately 1/2 teaspoon onto the paper towel.
Though some experts advise
adding loads more seeds, I had issues with mildew when I added
too many. The other side of the coin is that if the seeds are too sparse
they don't grow as well for me.
I grow just one seed variety per soap dish. Combining does not
work well for me. That is because the containers are small.
Additionally, broccoli takes one more day to begin growing than
the others I recommend.
My advice is to start with the Fabulous Four varieties: broccoli,
cabbage, kale and turnip. For me, these are the easiest. They grow
best even with a bit of neglect.
Speaking of neglect, if I do not water enough or
forget to do so one day, the microgreens will wilt.
Wilted plants do not die. It is easy enough to water them. After
microgreens will revive. Post rehydration, there is no discernable
difference in quality.
Top the seeds with a a piece of smooth opaque
plastic. I cut up a placemat from the Dollar Tree to cover the seeds.
The purpose of the plastic is to mimic dirt and allow the seeds to
germinate in the dark.
Next I flip up the SIDE
LATCHES → and then place the
lid on top of the soap dish. This allows airflow. It also
helps keep in the moisture, thus the seeds germinate. The lid
creates a miniature greenhouse effect however there MUST air
circulation to prevent mold.
Additionally, I add a bread tag with the name
of the seeds in the container.
Another thing to keep in mind regarding the Fabulous Four (broccoli,
cabbage, kale and turnip) is that broccoli is slow to start. It does
catch up, however I have found broccoli takes one additional day
before germination begins.
During the initial growth process
↓ appears along the roots. These
tiny hairs are not mold.
From left to right: day four, day three at the top,
and day two on the bottom right.
I keep the
microgreens covered in the initial stages of growth. They will
remain yellow until I expose them to sunlight. Within a few hours
(three or four) the plants turn green.
When the plants start to push up
the cover of the soap dish, I remove the plastic. The ambient light
in my cabin is enough for them to green up in just a few hours. The
microgreens nearly double in size to 3" tall over the next couple of
days. It is then that I consider them ready to eat.
There are various methods of
harvesting the microgreens. In the trays with just water the highest
they grow is about 3.5" tall.
Please note that were I to grow these plants in dirt my results
would be approximately double the size after just a few days longer.
I could also go to the grocery
store and buy the fully grown plant.
This is ↑ kale. I
am not fond of the taste of the fully mature plant. As a microgreen
kale is yummy.
Instead of dirt farming, I opted
for a more tidy plant growing option. Hydroponics would produce
larger crops. Bigger plants grown in dirt with fertilizer would also
yield a greater quantity of edible product. The space and time
required for said plants is more than I can manage aboard Seaweed.
One of the things
boaters learn is that everything must be adapted for
space constraints. For my small home, soap dishes are an ideal
Harvesting has a couple of options. Some professional growers chose
to use very sharp knives and cut close to the surface of the dirt.
Experts advise the purchase of an expensive "razor sharp" knife.
That won't work for a budget boater. Instead I get out my scissors.
I cut above the paper towel,
starting at one end and working my way across the soap dish.
This photo was taken during my foray into using
screen. The screen did not effect plant growth.
Washing the bits of plant from the screen was water intensive,
and a pain in the transom.
I find that
cutting just above the seed casing is easiest. Also note that the
seed shells/casings are not hard. Although some advocate rinsing off
the shells from the seeds, I do not do so. Rinsed microgreens seem
to wilt faster in the refrigerator.
Sometimes I am more careful and
try to cut closer to the paper towel. That would net a slightly
larger crop. I have also attempted to pull the plant through the
paper towels. Tugging generally fails or leaves bits of paper towel
in my greens.
The whole process
of growing my own garden
takes me between five and fifteen minutes per day.
After harvesting the microgreens,
I throw away the root embedded paper towel, wash the layers of foam
and start afresh. The foam is reused. After washing, I wrap the foam
in a new paper towel.
Red clover sprouts and broccoli microgreens with store-bought kielbasa piled on top makes a great lunch.
During the days of
World War II folks in America were advised to grow Victory Gardens.
Because so much of our goods were going overseas to support the troops, it
became up to our families left here at home to grow what we could to supplement our
diets. These became known as Victory Gardens. My parents did this,
and now aboard Seaweed I have my own Victory Garden.
You can do this too. The biggest
problem I had was that as I ramped up production, I needed a place
to put my crop. The next article will show you what I made. I'm very
happy with the results.
Thank you for reading. And please,
start your own Victory Garden.
I'd love to learn if your family also had a Victory
And, have you ever grown a garden?
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Microgreens Container Set-Up (part 2)
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