Archive for February, 2011

Microgreens

MicroGreens

Want to add fresh greens and fantastic fresh tastes to your off season cooking? MicroGreens are the way to go!

What are MicroGreens?

Microgreens are young edible greens produced from the seeds of vegetables, herbs or other plants. Unlike sprouts which are grown in water and you consume the roots, microgreens are grown in soil and you consume the new tender leaves. They have more developed flavor, color and texture than sprouts. Microgreens have great flavor even at their small size, though not as strong as mature greens and herbs.

A microgreen consists of a central stem having two fully developed cotyledon leaves (the leaves that first show on a plant), and usually one pair of the plant’s true leaves. They can range in size from 1″ in height for some lettuce to the extremely tiny leaves of mint.  An average size and leaf configuration for a microgreen such as basil is about 1-1 1/2″ in height, having the cotyledon leaves and one set of small true leaves.

They are easy to grow indoors in any weather, take up very little space and in most cases you can start harvesting in 10 to 15 days depending on what you decide to grow.  The short growth span makes it possible to produce microgreens on the darkest winter windowsill. Those of you with no experience can easily grow microgreens because the plants only need to be kept alive for a few weeks and most of the growing needs are within the seed. Don’t worry if they grow a little leggy in the process, it does not hurt the flavor.

Nutritional info:
Vitamins A, B, C, E and K
Calcium, Chlorophyll, Iron, Lecithin, Magnesium, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus, Potassium
Amino Acids
Trace Elements
Antioxidants
Protein: up to 30%

http://www.sproutpeople.com/seed/microgreens.html

We recommend using organic growing techniques.

Here is the list of things that you will need:

  1. A container (can be most any material) that is at least 4 inches deep with or without drainage holes in the bottom. Size will depend on how much you plan to grow.
  2. A tray that is bigger than the container, if you are using one with drainage, so it will contain any water overflow. We like to use small rocks or in it to hold the bottom of the tray up for good drainage.
  3. A flat, smooth piece of wood of other material that will fit into the container so you can press the potting mix flat.
  4. Natural unbleached paper towels or coffee filters.
  5. A spray bottle with a misting type head, this can be the small cup size if you are growing just a single container.
  6. A clear piece of plastic a little larger than the container to put on top to give the seeds a micro greenhouse atmosphere.
  7. A bag of organic potting mix. Many garden centers now carry organic products.
  8. We prefer organic seeds that we get online from seed companies like Johnny Seeds, but you can get regular seeds for most garden centers.
  9. A small container to put the seeds in for soaking.
  10. Turf & Garden Pro to mix with water for soaking seeds for faster and better germination.

Stage 1:

Preparation Stage:

Fill your container with your organic potting mix. Take the block of wood or other material you have selected and press the soil down to where it is level and firm but not too tightly packed.  Spread you seeds evenly as possible on top of the potting mixtures surface.  If you are using very small seeds it helps to mix them with a small amount of sand so the will spread more evenly.  Take your spray bottle and mix 1 teaspoon of Turf & Garden Pro for every cup of water. Spray the surface of the potting mixture so it is just moist. The Turf & Garden Pro speeds germination and give the seeds needed nutrient and beneficial soil biology for stronger growth.  The water you use does make a difference.  We collect and use rainwater but any good clean water is OK.  If you are using city water that is chlorinated put is in an open container overnight so the chlorine will dissipate.

Stage 2:

Seed Germination Stage:

It may take a couple times to get the right amount of seeds for the container you are using. You can get too many so do not completely cover the surface with seeds.

Next cover the inside of the container evenly with the unbleached paper towels or coffee filters so it lays flat on top of the potting soil.  Use the spray bottle to wet the paper towels until are they are moist.  Place the clear plastic cover over the container to create your mini-greenhouse. Mist the paper towels daily till the seeds geminate always putting the clear plastic back in place.

Stage 3:

Growth Stage:

After the seeds have sprouted into the two-leaf stage, carefully remove the paper towel and remove the cover so they get plenty of light and air. Keep the potting mix moist using the Turf & Garden Pro mix you have in your spray bottle.

We have used the leaves from the two-leaf stage up to five or six, and have found them very tasty and high in nutrients.  This is a great way to have fresh greens for salads and cooking year around. There are a number of sites with information about all of the greens that you can grow and the different taste effects you can come up with in your cooking.

Other sites to look at for microgreens:

http://www.yougrowgirl.com/2009/03/11/growing-food-on-a-windowsill-microgreens/

http://sproutpeople.org/

http://www.sunset.com/garden/fruits-veggies/easy-grow-micro-greens-00400000016081/

http://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Gardening/2009/0205/sprouts-and-microgreens-edible-houseplants

http://www.ehow.com/how_4861969_grow-micro-greens-culinary-chef.html

If you need further information write me at jimloepp@turfprousa.com .

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Weed and Feed

Weed and feed fertilizers were developed to make things easier for the homeowner without thought to the environment, human, pet or wildlife health.

Fertilizer and herbicides are not compatible. Fertilizer needs to be watered in quickly so it gets to the grass roots to feed the grass. Herbicides need to penetrate slowly so it stays on the weeds leaf to do its job. Wash it off and it ends up in the ground water as a pollutant.

I will not write here about the health effects of the main weed killer products used in these because there is a large amount of data available on the web about them. The main three herbicides are 2,4-D, MCPP and dicamba and all of them have been linked to possible health problems. Many synthetic fertilizers that are used in producing Weed and Feed fertilizers contain harmful elements in the unregulated portion of their mix.

I have not been able to find any studies that address the chemical compatibility of N-P-K and the various weed killers to see if they combine to create an even more dangerous chemical compounds.

Articles such as the Thurston County Washington on weed and feed http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/health/ehcsg/weed_feed.html tells the story.

Another problem that makes fertilizer and weed killer’s incompatible is that many times the weed killing agent needs to be applied a number of times to be effective. This means over fertilizing to where most of it runs off. Also, if you are not careful you can kill or do major damage to broad-leaf plants you want to grow, such as shrubs and trees.

Some of the herbicides used in these products along with over use of nitrogen can cause major damage to beneficial soil microorganisms, which are necessary for healthy soil.

The possible health effects that this type of synthetic fertilizer can have on your children and pets alone are reason enough to look at alternatives. Canada has banned weed & feed fertilizer use (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/cps-spc/pubs/pest/_decisions/rev2010-01/index-eng.php ) for a number of reasons.

Great lawns can be achieved using organic methods with a much reduced chance of health related problems to family and pets plus diminishing environmental pollution. We use a mixture of a liquid fish hydrolysate called MegaGreen for the fertilizer portion

( http://www.multibloom.com/megagreen.html ). It has a mint extract added to it to control the fish odor. With it we apply Turf & Garden Pro for trace elements, beneficial soil biology and lignin.

Weed and Feed fertilizers were developed for connivance of use without consideration of environmental, animal or human health.

If you have and questions please contact me at jloepp@turfprousa.com or call (407) 340-7639.

www.turfprousa.com