What are microgreens?
Microgreens are densely planted seedlings (bigger than a sprout, smaller than a mature plant) that are usually a leafy green or crops with dramatic flavors like radishes or peas.
Typically grown in fodder systems, seeds are planted in an even layer, germinated, and grown for a week or two before being harvested.
According to the USDA,
"A microgreen has a single central stem, which has been cut just above the soil during harvesting—in fact, home gardeners often snip them with scissors. The seedlings are well suited for local growers because microgreens are harvested just 7 to 14 days after germination when the cotyledons (seed leaves) have fully developed and before the true leaves have expanded."
What is the appeal?
The appeal of microgreens is that they're profitable for farmers, valuable to chefs who use them as garnishes and flavor-adders, and that they add a spike of flavor and nutrition to consumers.
And, in case you haven't noticed lately, microgreens are incredibly hot right now!
Everyone is buzzing about the health benefits of eating these seedlings. According to the University of Marylandand the U.S. Department of Agriculture, microgreens could contain between 4 and 40 times as many nutrients as mature produce.
That's a lot of nutrients!
Can you grow microgreens in towers?
Since ZipGrow Towers are designed for mature crops with a slender gap down the front, they aren't a good growing method for microgreens.
Production costs for microgreens tend to be high and the volume limit with ZipGrows would actually lower profit margins. (Opposite of full-grown crops, which increase margins.)
Is there an alternative to microgreens for Upstart Farmers?
Microgreens are a high-value, low volume crop. Alternative high-value, low volume crops are other specialty greens.
Mâche or sorrel, for example, are difficult to get but have unique flavors.
If one of your markets has demand for a specialty crop, the flexibility of being a small farmer may allow you to fill that demand gap.