December 02, 2018

Sunflower microgreens are easy to grow and delicious. They have a distinct nutty flavour and add a crunchy texture to salads, stir fries, sandwiches and more. In fact, they are so good that you may like to snack on a bowl of sunflower microgreens, without dressings or anything extra. Just the ‘bare’ microgreens!

In this article, you’ll learn how to grow sunflower microgreens using soil (the recommended method).


EQUIPMENT YOU WILL NEED

  • 1 – 1 ½ cups of organic sunflower seeds per seedling tray.
  • Seedling tray approximately 30 x 35 cm.
  • Spare seedling tray as a lid or a piece of hessian.
  • Sprouting jar, bag or tray.
  • Coir peat or certified organic potting mix.
  • Vermiculite, worm castings or compost.
  • Water mister.
  • Optional: Seasol liquid fertiliser.

ORGANIC SEEDS

Choose organic sunflower seeds that are unhulled (contains their shell) – or minimally hulled. The label of the packaging should include the word ‘sproutable’ or ‘sprouting’. They should not be roasted or toasted.


SOAKING AND SPROUTING

  • Wash seeds in cold water and place them in a clean glass jar. Soak for 8-12 hours.
  • Sunflower seeds can be sprouted using the sprouting jar, hemp bag or tray method.
  • Rinse and drain twice daily until tiny roots emerge. After 12-24 hours, the tiny roots should be approximately 5mm long.

PLANTING

  • Add 2-3 cm of potting mix or coir peat in the base of your seedling tray. Add nutrients such as vermiculite, worm castings or compost.
  • Lightly water your tray, to ensure that your growing medium is moist.
  • Distribute your sprouted seeds evenly over the tray.
  • Sprinkle a light layer of soil over your seeds and cover with a spare seedling tray or piece of hessian. This will ensure that your seeds can germinate in a dark environment.
  • Keep your microgreens in a well-ventilated room (out of direct sunlight) for 3-4 days before exposing to sunlight.
  • Ensure that your seeds and soil are kept moist, but not damp or soggy. Water twice daily with a water mister/sprayer.  
  • Add diluted nutrients such as Seasol to your seedlings using your sprayer.

HARVESTING YOUR MICROGREENS

  • In 8-12 days, you will have a harvest of healthy sunflower microgreens.
  • Harvest between 8-10cm, before the real leaves emerge. Cut 1-2 cm above the seeds. The stems and small leaves are both edible.

TROUBLESHOOTING


Seeds are slimy or have a funny smell

This can be caused by overcrowding your sprouting jar or tray with seeds. Try reducing the number of seeds that you use, and ensure that you allow enough room for air circulation. In hot, humid weather, you may need to reduce the number of seeds you use by 50%.


Help! I have mould in my trays

The most common causes of mould include:

  • Seed trays and sprouters that have not been cleaned properly: Wash your equipment after every batch and do not reuse your soil. Soil can be reused after it has been broken down in a compost pile.
  • Poor ventilation and air circulation: Use a fan to keep your microgreens well ventilated or move your trays to a position that has ample airflow.
  • Insufficient drainage: Rinse and drain your seeds well when sprouting. This ensures that your seeds do not become too moist or water logged.

IDEAL GROWING CONDITIONS

  • The optimal temperatures for seed germination are between 20 – 25 degrees Celsius.
  • Growing your microgreens outside will usually solve any issues that you encounter. Natural light and good air circulation are keys to microgreen success.  

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