We are growing microgreens and edible flowers on a small farm. We grow the microgreens indoors in an area of less than 300 square feet. We have been doing this for three years. We were not using any sustainable practices prior to starting this grant.
The problem remains one of finding economic viability for the small scale micro green grower. Our research so far is leading us to the path of composting and reuse of the soil mixes. The comparison across the initial 27 weeks supports this idea. I am currently composting soil and will compare it to previous results.
Our project objectives remain unchanged.
- Identify a micro greens growing medium more economical and environmentally friendly than soil.
- Protect peat moss environments in Canada and associated flora and fauna by identifying an alternative micro greens growing medium.
- Lower commercial crop production cost of micro greens.
- Empower kids and their families to grow low cost, nutritious, economically sound and ecologically friendly food.
Our process revolved around selecting grow mediums (our variables) and comparing the results while ensuring our constants (temperature, humidity, seed density by crop, and light exposure) remained so across the board in order to compare yield/cost to alternatives to using commercially available peat mixes. We selected one peat mix and have selected a biostrate, cellulose and hemp mats to compare against it. For our seed choice, we selected one company to provide all seeds and kept to that single variety. The four types of seed we choose were broccoli, radish, mizuna mustard and cabbage. We also decided that each week we would plant four trays of each variety. We planted in standard 10″ x 20″ trays. We decided to to plant all trays at 14 grams of seed per tray. Our lights were set to 12 hours per day and we watered each tray by hand with 1.5 cups once a day. Seeds were planted by hand, pressed onto the growing medium, watered and monitored for germination. We also placed paper towels on top of the seeds/growing medium and stacked the trays four deep. Each day prior to placing under the lights we watered very lightly and rotated from top to bottom tray placement in the stacks. Usually around Day 3 we found enough growth to move the trays under the grow lights. Day 10 found plants harvest ready. Based upon our initial results we are moving towards composting our mix for reuse.
|Growing Microgreens using various mediums|
Educational & Outreach Activities
We are still learning and discovered that for us there is a huge learning curve in adjusting to growing in non soil mediums. We are leaning towards composting our soil and reusing it as an alternative to purchasing mediums once the grant is completed. We have built a three bin composter to initiate this and discover how reworking the soil works for our purposes.
I think the future lies in soil composting and reuse for microgreens.