November 26, 2020

Book: Peter’s Precise Process for Growing Microgreens…with some Austinite tweaks.

by christopherabdo

My favorite book on microgreens, (which the author refers to as "Soil Sprouts") is Year Round Indoor Salad Gardening by Peter Burke.

What I love about this book, is that Peter spent several years tweaking how he grew microgreens to make it fit his exact situation: the cold winter of Vermont and the hot, dry heat inside. Peter's precise process is worth at least double the price of the book. 

What he ended up with is not just a system that perfectly fit his situation, but also works for most situations, WITH a few tweaks (that I'll get to later). 

What was really eye opening for me, was that you don't actually need that much light to grow certain types of microgreens, which Peter refers to as soil sprouts...and you can grow them in regular potting soil. 

On top of that, he was really wanting something that would FILL a salad bowl, consistently, so that his family of four could have a salad every night for dinner. With exact measurements and steps for each part of the process, you can tailor how much salad you want for your needs. 

On top of that...he actually had a successful business at one point growing his "soil sprouts" for both schools and restaurants! (if I remember correctly)

My climate of Austin, Tx was radically different than his, so I made a few tweaks to the process that worked beautifully for me AND also addressed a real issue I had when I was living at my old apartment: I had a hot-as-hell and shady balcony. What on earth can you grow in super hot shade?! Especially when it comes to salad greens?...well you'll have to read the next article for that answer 😃 

Austin, Tx is MUCH more humid than the hot-dry "climate" of a Vermont home in the depths of winter...

So that means mold is just waiting to take over your sprouts. 

So here are a few tweaks you can make...both to Peter's system, but it will also likely apply to any system you choose to try in Austin, Tx: 

  1. Use grapefruit seed extract to soak your seeds. 

1 drop per quart of water, sterilizes the outside of sunflower seeds which LOOOVES to grow mold. Fortunately, grapefruit seed extract is both safe and actually good for you, so there is no need to use what is often used in the commercial microgreen businesses: hydrogen peroxide. I've been told hydrogen peroxide is fine...but I'd rather avoid it if there is something that at least appears more the grapefruit seed extract. 

  1. Don't use more water than you need, risk using not enough. 

OMG. If I could go back and time and tell myself this, it would have saved me a lot of failed attempts. So I hope this will make it nice and easy for you 😃 

When I soak the seeds, I put them on soil that is just moist. The seeds, having been super hydrated after soaking, really don't need much water to get going. Once they plop down some roots and really start going, you'll want to watch them more carefully and water. 

  1. Get fresh, high quality seeds. 

If you go with the companies I recommend, you don't have to worry about this. If you don't, then decide now that you're okay with the process being more complicated and potentially moldy. Using bird seed, farm seed, etc. often results in seeds that aren't as young, so they don't sprout as quickly and easily and they are more prone to mold. 

So if you plan to grow microgreens, I can super-highly recommend the book...and if you live in Austin or a similar humid climate, you'll know the most important tweaks to make to hit the ground running 🙂 


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