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Date: 25 February 2020. Microgreens Seeds to Harvest (part 3)

janice142


Memory Lane: 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:


 


This became a multi-part series about growing microgreens aboard Seaweed. Today's article offers insight into the reasons behind some of my choices. It also provides details on what is normal, when I expose the seedlings to sunlight, etc. Plus I cover my method of harvesting the greens.
 

For those that prefer everything on one page, this is the link you want:
Microgreens Aboard Seaweed (series)



An overview/printable is located here: 
Microgreens Summary for Success (cheat sheet)

or, without photographs, here:

Microgreens Summary for Success (no pictures)
 


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 Disney 2017 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.
 

Side Note: 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.
 

Having fresh 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 microgreens garden:
 

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 watering the
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 FUZZ 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 however, 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 solution.

 
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 Garden.
And, have you ever grown a garden?
 

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2020

Categories: Galley, Memory Lane,

Microgreens Container Set-Up (part 2)  ~ Previous Post ...   
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Next Post ~ Microgreens Shelves Installed (part 4)

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