by Bethany Hayes
Winter is the perfect time to try out microgreens for easy bursts of fresh greens and nutrients. When you imagine microgreens, you might think that it’s a sprout or a smaller version of the mature vegetable. However, microgreens vs. sprouts aren’t the same things, and understanding the differences is essential if you decide you want to learn how to grow microgreens.
Despite what you might think, microgreens and sprouts are not the same things. They look different, taste different, and even grow differently. To top it off, microgreens and sprouts happen at different parts of the growing season for each vegetable and herb.
Let’s look at what microgreens vs. sprouts are.
What Are Sprouts?
Sprouts are germinated seeds, which is when the seeds come out of their dormancy and sprout into a live plant. Inside of the seed, the embryo uses the nutrients stored to sprout out of the soil. If you wait patiently, sprouts turn into fully mature plants, but you have edible sprouts until that time comes.
Gardeners often germinate sprouts in water to reduce the risk of molding. These sprouts grow quickly, reaching harvestable size within six days. You don’t need to provide much light or nutrients for sprouts to grow.
Eating sprouts gives you a punch of fiber, protein, and enzymes in one small little bite. Sprouts are full of flavor and nutrients, plus they’re easy to use. Toss handfuls in your salads or on top of sandwiches.
The best seeds to use for sprouts are:
Whenever discussing sprouts, it’s important to note that eating raw sprouts is risky. Some people become sick after eating contaminated sprouts because they might carry food-borne pathogens, such as listeria, E. coli, salmonella, and staphylococcus.
Rinsing and draining sprouts is a necessary part of the process to avoid pathogens; you need to rinse two times per day. Growing sprouts requires intense humidity and lack of direct sunlight; that’s similar to how you grow fungus. So, it can be a bacterial breeding ground.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens happen after a plant’s cotyledon growth stage when the first true leaves of a plant appear. They’re larger than sprouts and look more like a baby plant.
Essentially, microgreens are the seedling of any vegetable or herb plant shortly after germination, when the first set of real leaves appear.
When a plant develops its first true set of leaves, the process of photosynthesis begins. The plant starts to convert light into chemical energy, using it to grow. You can eat both the leaves and stems.
Microgreens start from seeds, just like sprouts, but they’re started in soil or peat moss rather than water. Nutrients and light are needed to reach this stage of growth. Microgreens take between one to three weeks to produce a real set of leaves, depending on the plant you’re growing.
Some of the fastest-growing microgreens are:
- Mustard greens
- Red Cabbage
In addition to soil and nutrients, microgreens need plenty of light and air ventilation. That’s the same as growing any other plant. Microgreens are versatile; they can be grown hydroponically on foam or fleece. Some gardeners use a soilless mixture, but nutrients are a must no matter what method is selected.
What makes microgreens awesome is that they’re more concentrated than the mature versions of the plants. All of the vitamins are condensed into a smaller plant. Some prefer to eat them right before the set of true leaves appear; the later the harvest, the stronger the taste.
Microgreens vs. Sprouts
Are you finding it hard to understand the difference between microgreens vs. sprouts? Here are the key differences to remember.
|Grow in soil or peat moss||Germinate in water|
|Needs light, nutrients, and air to grow.||Needs intense humidity and a lack of sunlight to sprout.|
|You eat the leaves and stems.||You eat the stem and seed.|
|Takes between one-three weeks to grow||Takes under one week to grow.|
|Great for flavor and nutrients, as well as a garnish.||Adds crunchy texture to the dish and vitamins.|
Pick Which You Want to Grow or Try Both!
Growing microgreens or sprouts is an individual choice. Think about what you want to grow them for and give them a try. Just remember, microgreens vs. sprouts are not the same things.