YARD AND GARDEN: How to grow your own microgreens – Bloomington Pantagraph

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Master Gardener Darla Chouinard has some tips on growing microgreen.I've recently taken an interest in microgreens. Microgreens are tiny regular vegetable plants that are past the "sprout" stage and before the "baby greens" stage of a plant’s life cycle. They contain a higher amount of nutritional value than full grown veggies.Bean and alfalfa sprouts have been popular in our diets for quite a while. The difference between sprouts and microgreens are sprouts are grown by soaking the seeds and rinsing them daily and are placed in a jar to grow into sprouts. They are ready to eat in a couple days.The whole "sprout" plant including seed and root are all eaten at once. They are grown under the same conditions that bacteria and fungus also thrive, and this makes sprouts less safe to eat than microgreens. We do not usually eat the roots of microgreens, and we especially avoid them if they have mold on them.You can purchase microgreen growing kits or you can easily do it yourself. If you purchase seeds, select specific packets that are labeled for microgreens or find seeds that are labeled "non-GMO" or "organic" because some seeds that are not indicated non-GMO/organic can have a coating of a fungicide.Popular varieties of seeds for this type of planting include broccoli, peas, kale, beets, alfalfa, sunflower, arugula, radish, cress, wheat grass, bunching onions and lettuce mixes. Also, each plant variety has different nutritional value so research what you are interested in.To plant your own, make sure you use clean containers that hold about an inch deep of soil, with drainage holes in the bottom. Take-out containers or any small flat container works well. Select a mold free seed starting potting mix, a good pro-mix, or coconut coir. Coconut coir is sold at garden centers in a dry compressed block. Spread the seed on the moist soil base, then sprinkle a light dusting of soil over the top to gently cover the seed and press the seeds into the soil. Seed to soil contact helps them to germinate. Germination is when the plant emerges from the seed.

If you are planting more than one variety of plant, put them in separate containers, be sure to label the container so you know what you planted, and if you enjoyed it, you can plant it again.To water your microgreens, gently spray with clean water from a clean squirt bottle, or water from the bottom tray as the plants are very tender and can easily fall over and mold. The soil needs to remain damp while your plants grow. As they grow, their need for water increases, so make sure they do not dry out.Microgreens are to be planted and grown indoors near a window. Your seeds don't need sunlight to germinate. Since they can be grown near a window and don't need direct light, they are perfect for a classroom, in your office, or home.The first set of leaves we see on emerging plants are called cotyledons and they are considered part of the seed, or embryo of the plant, not true leaves. Harvest your microgreens when the tiny plants are 2-inch to 3-inches tall, and when they have two to three sets of true leaves. Depending on variety, this can be within a few days to two to three weeks.With clean scissors, snip the tender plant just above the soil line. They can be eaten as a garnish on your plate, in a salad, sandwich or in smoothies. Be creative! Some microgreen plants may continue to grow, and you could get more from the planting.After you have harvested your crop, do not reuse the soil for another planting of microgreens. Do not throw out the soil, as it may be added to your outdoor garden, flowerpots or composted.Microgreens are ideal for kids to grow because they sprout, grow, and can be harvested and eaten in a very short span of time. Growing your own microgreens is fun and it's really cool to watch the rapid life cycle of edible plants.If you have questions about your garden or landscape, contact a master gardener at the University of Illinois Extension office in Mattoon at 217-345-7034 or through our online hotline at https://forms.illinois.edu/sec/1523725. Be sure to visit U of I Extension's horticulture website http://web.extension.illinois.edu/ccdms/ and like the Master Gardeners' Facebook page www.facebook.com/ColesCountyMasterGardeners.

My Town: Clint Walker's memories of Coles County as pulled from the archives

Cosmic Blue Comics

From the Nov. 22, 1992, Journal Gazette, this photo of Cosmic Blue Comics in Mattoon; where I spent virtually every Saturday afternoon for about two years. That small back room you see just off to the right of the Coca-Cola sign was where they kept the many, and I mean many, long-boxes of back issues. I still own my bagged copy of "Tales of the Beanworld" issue No. 1 that I found back there. Sadly, this location is now just a "greenspace".

Mattoon Arcade

Pictured, Shelbyville's Bob Murray from the June 2, 1982, Journal Gazette, displaying his dominance over the TRON arcade game at the "Carousel Time" arcade at the Cross County Mall, later to be the Aladdin's Castle, soon thereafter to be not a thing anymore. I spent just about every Saturday at that arcade, perhaps with that exact same haircut. No overalls, though. I was more of an "Ocean Pacific" kind of kid.

Icenogle's

Pictured, from the Nov. 28, 1988, Journal Gazette, Icenogle's grocery store. Being from Cooks Mills, we didn't often shop at Icenogle's...but when we did, even as a kid, I knew it was the way a grocery store is supposed to be in a perfect world, and that's not just because they had wood floors, comic books on the magazine rack, or plenty, and I mean plenty, of trading cards in wax packs.

Cooks Mills

I had long since moved away from Cooks Mills by the time this Showcase item about Adam's Groceries ran in the June 13, 1998, Journal Gazette, but there was a time when I very well could have been one of those kids in that photo; for if it was summer, and you had a bike, and you lived in Cooks Mills, that's where you ended up. At last report, they still had Tab in the Pepsi-branded cooler in the back. I'm seriously considering asking my money guy if I could afford to reopen this place.

Mister Music

Pictured, from the July 16, 1987, Journal Gazette, this ad for Mister Music, formerly located in the Cross County Mall. I wasn't buying records at that age, but I would eventually, and that's where it all went down. If you don't think it sounds "cool" to hang out at a record store with your buddies on a Friday night, a piping-hot driver's license fresh in your wallet, you'd be right. But it's the best a geek like me could do. Wherever you are today, owners of Mister Music, please know that a Minutemen album I found in your cheap bin changed my life.

Sound Source Guitar Throw

Portrait of the author as a young man, about to throw a guitar through a target at that year's Sound Source Music Guitar Throwing Contest, from the April 18, 1994, Journal Gazette. Check out my grunge-era hoodie, and yes...look carefully, those are Air Jordans you see on my feet. Addendum: despite what the cutline says, I did not win a guitar.Pictured, clipped from the online archives at JG-TC.com, a photo from the April 18, 1994, Journal Gazette of Sound Source Music Guitar Throwing Contest winner, and current JG-TC staff writer, Clint Walker.

Vette's

Here today, gone tomorrow, Vette's Teen Club, from the June 20, 1991, Journal Gazette. I wasn't "cool" enough to hang out at Vette's back in it's "heyday," and by "cool enough" I mean, "not proficient enough in parking lot fights." If only I could get a crack at it now.

FutureGen

FutureGen: The end of the beginning, and eventually, the beginning of the end, from the Dec. 19, 2007, JG-TC. I wish I had been paying more attention at the time. I probably should have been reading the newspaper.

Illinois Extension leads public outreach for University of Illinois by translating research into action plans that allow Illinois families, businesses, and community leaders to solve problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to changes and opportunities.

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