Microgreens are normally the seedlings of herbs and vegetables. They are a type of special vegetables that are becoming more and more popular daily globally.
Researchers see them as functional food, meaning that they provide the needed nutrients in practical ways, making some people refer to them as superfoods.
Due to their increased popularity, people are continually stocking them in their stores, and some are growing them at home.
Sunflower microgreens are one type of the numerous types of microgreens in the market. They have a rich and deliciously nutty taste similar to that of raw sunflower seeds. Their texture is crunchy, similar to that of spinach.
Before you grow or buy sunflower microgreens, you have to know everything about them.
How To Grow Microgreens Indoors
Growing Sunflower Microgreens
Growing sunflower microgreens is easy, and all you need is a clear space. Some of the requirements you will need to grow your microgreens include;
One of the most important things you have to do before you start the growing process is to buy high-quality seeds. The quality of your seeds will determine how much harvest you get and its quality. Buy your seeds from a certified seed seller for safety.
Also, buy the ones that have a label on them saying they are specifically for sprouting. Many people use the black oil sunflower seeds because they have a richer flavor. However, you can use the raw stripped ones, provided they are not salted or roasted.
To grow the microgreens, you have to work in steps;
Soak the seeds
This is the first and most crucial step to growing sunflower microgreens. It helps soften the seeds' hard outer shell. If you are using the black oil sunflower seeds, soaking helps them germinate faster.
Fill a bowl with room temperature or slightly warm water with a balanced pH and pour in your seeds. Ensure that all the seeds are underwater and cover the container. After 12 hours, drain the water and rinse your seeds.
Re-fill the bowl with room temperature or slightly warm water, and soak your seed again for 12 hours. The longer you soak the seeds, the better they will sprout. Sometimes, the seeds might have started sprouting at this point.
However, some may not have cracked open, and in that case, rinse them again and soak them for an additional 12 hours.
After your seeds start sprouting, prepare the containers for planting. Ensure that the soil you buy for planting your seeds is high quality and porous. Compact soil will make it hard for the microgreens to develop roots and germinate properly.
First, pour some water at the bottom of your planting container, then fill it with soil. Next, make small holes at the bottom of the container to let out excess water.
Do not fill the container with soil to the brim, but leave a few inches. The soil will absorb the water upward, which will be good for the roots. Compress and smoothen the soil, then gently sow the seeds close to one another such that every space has a seed.
Be careful not to overlap the seeds because that could affect their growth and don’t cover them with more soil. Using your misting bottle, mist the seeds to aid germination and ensure that soil is well watered but not soggy.
Cover the seeds with a second tray to keep them in the dark, but ensure you make some holes in the covering tray to allow proper airflow.
Maintaining your microgreens as they grow is one of the most crucial parts. Keep the covering tray on as the seeds continue germinating and mist them twice daily to prevent them from drying. Within 2-4 days, you will see the seeds germinate into tiny sunflower microgreens.
At that point, they will have a yellow color because of the lack of sunlight. That should be the sign for you to remove the covering tray. Imitate the sun by lighting your glow lights for around 12-18 hours daily, and bring the light as close as possible to the plants.
That ensures that they grow compact and short instead of etiolated and lanky. Alternatively, you can move them close to a window that receives adequate light but ensure the light is not too bright and that the sun does not get too hot.
When you notice that the soil is drying out, water it from below by dipping it into a bigger water tray. The water will sip into the soil through the small holes in the tray.
Watering from the bottom ensures that your sunflower microgreens remain dry and do not experience any fungus growth. As the microgreens grow, they pop up with the seed shells still on the leaves.
You can remove them by gently brushing your hand over the plant shoots. You do not have to worry about fertilizing your microgreens because they get all the nutrients they need from the sunflower seed.
Sunflower microgreens take around two weeks to grow, and you can finally harvest them. Ensure each plant has two cotyledons and is around 3-4 inches tall.
Harvest them before they start forming true leaves because the flavor will change, and they will be bitter.
To harvest, you need a pair of sterilized sharp scissors and a bowl. Hold several sprouts at the top, clip them just above the soil, and transfer them to the bowl. The microgreens will not regrow after you harvest them, but you can plant others in the same soil.
However, you first have to uproot the beheaded roots of the previous sprouts.
Storing the microgreens
After harvesting your sunflower microgreens, you probably will not use all of them. Instead, store them in the fridge inside a sealed container. Experts recommend that you do not wash them until you have to use them.
Use them as soon as possible. With proper storage, the microgreens can last up to a week. Storing them any further will make them lose their rich nutty taste and crunchy texture.
Best Soil Test Kits
Problems With Growing Sunflower Microgreens
Just like when growing any other plants, you will encounter some problems when growing your sunflower microgreens. Some of the common issues you will run into include;
Fungus or mold
This is one of the main problems you will encounter as you grow your microgreens, especially if you grow them during the summer when there are high temperatures and high humidity.
Sometimes you might confuse mold with root hairs, mainly because they both appear around the plants' main root. However, root hairs are beneficial to the plants at the early stages of their life, while the mold is not.
Mold, which is usually white, resembles spider webs crawling across the soil surface. It begins in a small area as a small and wispy ball, but it expands fast and spreads all over the soil. If you do not do something to combat the mold fast, it soon climbs to the stems of the plants and later ruins all your harvest.
Therefore, you should always keep a close eye on your crop as it grows. To prevent mold from developing on your microgreens;
The majority of sunflower microgreens fully germinate between 2 and 4 days after planting, but some may take longer. Longer germinating periods indicate a problem, especially with the seeds or the growing environment.
To solve the problem;
When planting your seeds, it might be hard to spread them evenly, and you might plant others too close to each other. If you plant seeds close to one another, that causes them to clump together, especially if you used mucilaginous seeds.
When those seeds sprout, some seedlings will push others into the air, which suspends the roots. Those suspended sprouts might also spread dirt onto other seedlings. That not only spreads dirt to the seedlings but also makes them difficult to harvest. To avoid this;
This is not an issue that many sunflower microgreens’ growers’ experience, but it might happen. After removing the covering tray off your microgreens, they are all yellow, and that is as a result of low sunlight.
However, they should green out after you expose them to sunlight or start using a grow bulb. To keep your microgreens from maintaining the yellow color after exposing them to light;
Sometimes you might notice that one part of your microgreens is healthy and green while the other looks weak and might even dry out. One of the major causes of this is lack of enough water or light on one side. To avoid this;
Some of the problems above could result in the growth of weak-looking microgreens. However, if you have not encountered any of them, you might have difficulties diagnosing the cause.
Some of the main reasons why microgreens look weak are poor seed quality and poor moisture control. That means that you either underwater or over water the soil. It might also result from you removing the covering dome too early or too late.
Some of the things you can do to avoid this problem include;
Soil Moisture Meters
Difference Between Sunflower Microgreens And Sprouts
Many people confuse microgreens with sprouts, mainly because you harvest them after a short time. However, microgreens need soil to germinate while sprouts germinate in plain water. Sunflower microgreens also grow for longer periods and turn into true plants.
That allows them to turn light into chlorophyll, which increases their nutritional value. They also contain higher fiber content than sunflower sprouts.
How To Eat Sunflower Microgreens
Sunflower microgreens are versatile, and you can eat both the leaves and the stem. You can eat them similarly to how you eat baby arugula, lettuce, or alfalfa sprouts. You can eat them either cooked or raw.
If you eat them cooked, add them to your meal after taking them out of the heat. That helps maintain its crunchy texture. You can add them to different dishes like salads, soups, wraps, sandwiches, scrambled eggs, and omelets.
You can also add them to your smooth or fruit juice for some color and nutty flavor. Another way you can add them to your meal is by eating them alone as a salad or using them as a topping to your salad and pizza.
They also go well when you blend them into rice or mashed potatoes or add them into your bowl of pasta.
Nutritional Benefits Of Sunflower Microgreens
Aside from their ease of growing, many people are trying sunflower microgreens because of their nutritional benefits. One of the main nutrition benefits of sunflower seeds is that they are a great protein source for vegetarians.
They are also packed with nutrients and do not contain many fats or calories, which make them perfect for you if you are on a weight loss journey. Sunflower microgreens have a lot of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant properties. Some of the vitamins it contains include;
Sunflower microgreens also have a lot of minerals, including;