Microgreens are an increasingly popular ingredient and garnish in various dishes, particularly in fine-dining establishments. The younger version of herbs and vegetables, microgreens are more mature than sprouts but are a long way away from being a fully-grown plant.
A huge variety of vegetables can be grown as microgreens, including (but not limited to) broccoli, dill, cauliflower, radish, fennel, and spinach. Here, however, we’re going to take a look at broccoli microgreens.
Broccoli is a ubiquitous vegetable belonging to the same plant family as cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts and cabbage. Broccoli was first cultivated approximately 2,500 years ago in Italy; hence its Italian-sounding name. Today, most of the world’s broccoli is grown in China and India.
Broccoli microgreens are among the fastest-growing microgreens around. They are also packed with tons of great nutrients but have a milder flavor than fully-grown broccoli.
Here, we’ll be discussing the various techniques you can use to grow your own broccoli microgreens. We’ll also cover the health benefits that come with regularly eating broccoli microgreens, and we’ll take a look at some of the common pests and diseases that can affect broccoli microgreens and how to deal with them.
Let’s get right to it!
Equipment Needed to Grow Broccoli Microgreens
Growing broccoli microgreens on your own is a simple process. It takes very little time, and you don’t need any expensive specialty equipment (except possibly a grow light).
Here’s a list of all the equipment you’ll need to grow broccoli microgreens:
- A container for growing your seeds in – A growing tray is usually best for microgreens, but you can also use a plant pot, a takeout container, a jar, or a yogurt container. Whatever you have on hand will work.
- Potting soil – Sterilized potting soil is best for this purpose as it will help prevent your broccoli microgreens from catching diseases. You may also want to use something like coconut coir to grow your microgreens.
- Water – Rainwater and bottled spring water is the best water to use when growing plants. Distilled water is also acceptable but not quite as good.
- A source of light – Broccoli grows best in full sunlight, so if you plan to grow your microgreens indoors it’s best to place them in a west- or east-facing window. If you’re trying to grow your broccoli microgreens during the winter, placing them near a south-facing window or using grow lights is probably your best bet.
- A misting bottle – Misting your broccoli plants daily with water is the best way to keep them sufficiently moist during the growing process.
- Broccoli seeds – Obviously, to grow broccoli microgreens, you’ll need some broccoli seeds. There are a few different varieties of broccoli you can try to grow; Calabrese broccoli is the most common type, but there’s also Waltham 29 broccoli, Ramoso Santana broccoli, and Di Cicco broccoli, among others.
How to Grow Broccoli Microgreens in Soil?
Growing your microgreens in the soil is the most common method.
Here’s the necessary steps for growing broccoli microgreens in this way:
Fill Your Growing Container with Soil
Fill up your tray, pot, or growing container with your chosen potting soil. Leave about one inch of space between the surface of the soil and the rim of the container.
Sow Your Seeds
Unlike some other microgreens, broccoli seeds can be sown pretty closely together. This is because broccoli microgreens grow pretty quickly, so they don’t need a lot of room to develop properly.
Cover Your Broccoli Seeds and Water Them
Sprinkle a bit of potting soil on top of your broccoli seeds. Water everything well, but don’t use so much that it becomes muddy.
Give Your Seeds Light
Place your container near a sunny window or under a grow light.
Moisten Your Seeds Often
Using a spray bottle, be sure to give your broccoli plenty of moisture each day. Keep in mind that if you’re using a tray or a pot with drainage holes, you’ll be able to give your broccoli more water. If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, you can easily end up waterlogging your broccoli.
Harvest When Ready
As soon as your broccoli plants have grown their first set of leaves, they’re ready to harvest!
How to Grow Broccoli Microgreens with a Grow Mat
Some people maintain that grow mats are the easiest way to grow microgreens. Grow mats can be made with a variety of materials but usually consist of a type of plant fiber. They can often be reused, which makes them particularly convenient.
Here’s what you need to know about growing your broccoli microgreens with a grow mat:
Prepare Your Grow Mat
Grow mats can only be used with growing trays. You may have to trim your grow mat to fit the tray you’re using, although if you’re lucky, you may be able to find a grow mat that fits your tray.
Soak Your Grow Mat & Seeds
Before planting your seeds, both the seeds and the grow mat should be soaked in water for at least a few hours.
Plant Your Seeds
Distribute your seeds over the surface of the mat. Unlike other microgreens, broccoli seeds don’t need to be covered at this point.
Give Your Seeds a Light Source & Regular Water
Place your grow tray near a sunny window or under a grow light, and water it regularly. It’s important that your grow mat doesn’t dry out.
Wait for Your Microgreens to Grow
You should see sprouts appearing within just a few days. Keep watering your microgreens and harvest them when they’re ready!
How to Grow Broccoli Microgreens in Wood Shavings?
Believe it or not, you can grow broccoli microgreens in wood shavings, and the process is identical to the way you grow them in soil.
When considering which type of wood shaving to use for this purpose, you can buy wood shavings that are specifically intended for growing microgreens. However, you can also use wood shavings intended for animal bedding, but you need to make sure that the shavings are fairly small in size.
Here’s what you need to do to successfully grow your broccoli microgreens in wood shavings:
Fill Your Container with Wood Shavings
Fill your tray or pot with wood shavings and leave about one inch of space from the rim of the container. You may also wish to soak your wood shavings in water for a few hours before completing this step.
Sow Your Seeds
Distribute your seeds evenly over the bed of wood shavings.
Cover Your Seeds with More Wood Shavings
Sprinkle a thin layer of wood shavings over your seeds.
Give Your Seeds Light and Moisture
Place your seeds near a window or under a grow light, and make sure they’re kept moist until they’re ready to harvest. Wood shavings retain water pretty well, so if you pre-soaked your shavings before planting your seeds, you won’t need to moisten them as frequently.
How to Grow Broccoli Microgreens Using Growing Paper?
As the name implies, growing paper is designed specifically for growing plants. It retains water quite well, and it may also come with ridges for keeping your broccoli seeds in place.
Using growing paper is quite similar to using grow mats.
Here’s how to go about growing your microgreens with growing paper:
Moisten Your Growing Paper and Seeds
Soak your growing paper and seeds in water for a few hours. Make sure to drain any excess water from your grow tray before planting your seeds.
Plant Your Seeds
Spread your seeds out over the surface of your growing paper. As with grow mats, you don’t need to cover them at this stage.
Keep Your Seeds Moist
Your growing paper needs to be kept moist during the growing process, so add more water as needed.
How Can You Speed Up Growth?
Broccoli microgreens are among the fastest growing of all microgreens; however, you may sometimes find that they take longer to grow than expected. There could be several reasons for this. In this section, we’ll go over some tips you can use to help your broccoli microgreens grow quickly.
Use the Right Kind of Water
Rainwater and spring water is the best water for growing broccoli, as they contain certain nutrients that broccoli needs for proper growth.
Distilled water can also be used, however, since distilled water has been thoroughly purified and filtered, it lacks a lot of the nutrients that plants need to grow properly and your broccoli probably won’t grow as quickly.
Tap water generally isn’t suitable for growing broccoli microgreens, as it often contains trace amounts of fluoride and chlorine. While these substances make tap water safe to drink for humans, it can be detrimental to the health of your broccoli, so avoid using it to water your plants.
Give Your Broccoli Enough Sunlight
In general, the more sunlight you’re able to give your broccoli, the better. Broccoli grows best in sunny conditions, and ideally, you should try to give your broccoli at least six hours of direct sunlight every day.
If you’ve opted to use grow lights as a light source for your broccoli, you’ll need to leave your lights on for most of the day. You should leave them on for about 16-18 hours every day, and they should be no more than four inches away from your growing container.
Provide Your Broccoli with Adequate Air Movement
All microgreens benefit from a degree of air movement, as it prevents your microgreens from catching various diseases.
On the other hand, too much air circulation can dry out your soil, which you definitely don’t want when trying to grow broccoli microgreens. The right amount of air movement will do a lot to help your broccoli microgreens grow quickly.
Grow Your Broccoli in the Right Temperature
Compared to other microgreens, broccoli grows best in cooler temperatures. In general, it’s best to keep the temperature of the area where you’re growing broccoli to around 70° Fahrenheit.
Broccoli is capable of germinating in temperatures as low as 40° Fahrenheit, but warmer temperatures are better for helping it grow quickly. Using a heating mat will help your broccoli seeds germinate a little bit faster.
Additionally, if you’ve opted to grow your microgreens outside, it’s best to do so in the early fall, when temperatures are fairly consistent.
Make Sure Your Soil is Suitable for Broccoli
Broccoli grows best in slightly acidic soil. Ideally, the pH of your soil should be between 6.0 and 6.8. If you’re unsure of your soil’s pH levels, you can easily find out with a soil pH testing kit.
You should also grow your broccoli in soil that is moist yet well-drained. It also helps if your soil is quite fertile.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Broccoli Microgreens?
Broccoli microgreens have a considerable number of nutritional benefits. In this section we’ll cover the reasons it’s worth the time and effort to grow your own broccoli microgreens and add them to your regular diet.
Broccoli Contains Many Essential Vitamins and Nutrients
Broccoli has a reputation for being a particularly healthy vegetable. It’s very low in calories and is approximately 90% water. The remaining 10% is mainly carbs and protein, and it’s a good source of dietary fiber.
Broccoli is also an excellent source of several essential vitamins and other healthy substances. It contains:
- Vitamin C, an antioxidant that is important for skin health and immune function
- Vitamin B9, which is important for cell function and normal tissue growth. Pregnant women, in particular, need a large amount of vitamin B9 in their diets.
- Vitamin K1, which is good for your bones and essential for blood clotting
- Iron, which helps your red blood cells transport oxygen in addition to a number of other essential functions in your body
- Potassium, which helps prevent heart disease and helps control your blood pressure
Broccoli Helps Regulate Your Blood Sugar
Broccoli contains a substance called sulforaphane, which gives it a bitter taste. However, sulforaphane has also been linked to blood sugar regulation, which is an important function (particularly for anyone with diabetes).
Some evidence suggests that sulforaphane may help protect the body against various types of cancer.
Broccoli Helps Reduce Oxidative Stress
Broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, a potent antioxidant. Aside from the aforementioned benefits of vitamin C, it’s antioxidant properties mean that it can protect your cells from receiving oxidative damage.
Excessive oxidative damage to your cells can cause a number of health conditions, including:
- High blood pressure
- Various inflammatory conditions
- Neurodegenerative diseases
- Heart disease
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Pests and Diseases That Can Damage Microgreens & How to Deal with Them
By taking care of your broccoli microgreens well, you can prevent pests and diseases from affecting your plants at all. However, if you’re attempting to grow your broccoli microgreens outside and they are exposed to the elements, there’s a much higher chance that you’ll have to deal with such things.
It’s essential to be able to recognize the signs of pest activity and disease in your broccoli plants, and it’s even more essential to know how to deal with these issues should they occur.
Here, we’ll discuss several of the common types of pests and diseases that can affect broccoli microgreens and how to deal with them.
Aphids are a common problem for any plant or vegetable growing outside. These tiny insects may be yellow, black, green, or red in color. When feeding, they leave behind a residue that can attract other unwanted insects to your plants, and they can also be a vector for various plant diseases.
You can remove aphids from your broccoli plants by blasting them with a strong jet of water, or you can try introducing insects that prey on aphids to your garden, like ladybugs or wasps.
“Cabbage worms” is a generic term that refers to the larvae of several species of moths. If you notice an unusual number of moths hanging around your broccoli plants, it’s a sign that you’ll probably be dealing with cabbage worms in the future.
Cabbage worms eat broccoli leaves, causing significant damage. You can address cabbage worms problems by picking them off your plants by hand, or you can treat your broccoli with an insecticide.
Damping-off is a fungal disease caused by excessive moisture. If your broccoli appears to be growing normally, then suddenly wilts, this is a sign of damping off.
Unfortunately, there’s no way to save your broccoli from damping off, but you can prevent this disease from happening by giving your microgreens enough air movement and not overfertilizing or overwatering them.
If you start to notice that the leaves of your broccoli plants are turning yellow, this is a sign that your plants need to be fertilized. More specifically, yellow leaves are a sign of a nitrogen deficiency.
To treat yellow leaves, give your broccoli some more nitrogen-rich fertilizer or blood meal (the dried blood of animals, usually cows).
Botrytis is another fungal disease that occurs when plants are grown in excessively cold and damp conditions. It appears as grey patches of mold that cover the leaves of your plants.
The best way to treat botrytis is to move your plants to a warmer area and reduce the amount of water you’re giving them. You should also remove any affected plants from your growing container.
This fungal disease resembles a white, spiderweb-like substance that covers your plant leaves. Your broccoli is at risk of catching this disease if you’re keeping it in overly humid conditions with no air movement. Sclerotinia can be treated by reducing the humidity of your growing area and introducing better air movement.
Here are some answers to common questions that people tend to have about growing and using broccoli microgreens.
Broccoli Microgreens vs. Broccoli Sprouts: Which Is Better?
Despite the fact that many people use the terms “sprout” and “microgreens” interchangeably, they are in fact different. Sprouts and microgreens are grown differently, and they also represent different stages within a plant’s growth cycle.
Microgreens have more nutritional value than sprouts, and they’re a better source of dietary fiber. The only advantage that sprouts have over microgreens is that they don’t require as much time before they’re ready to harvest.
How Much Light Do Broccoli Microgreens Need?
Broccoli microgreens benefit from a lot of sunlight. They’ll often grow quite well when planted outdoors, where they can be exposed to sunlight for the majority of the day. If you’re growing your broccoli microgreens indoors, you should try to ensure that they get at least six hours of sunlight per day. However, if you’re growing your microgreens under grow lights, you should give them light for 16-18 hours per day.
What’s the Best Temperature for Growing Broccoli Microgreens?
Broccoli grows best in relatively mild conditions; about 70° Fahrenheit.
How Long Do Broccoli Microgreens Take to Grow?
Broccoli microgreens are among the fastest-growing microgreens and shouldn’t take more than a week or two to grow. However, if they happen to grow in optimal conditions, broccoli microgreens can be ready to harvest in as little as six days.
Do Broccoli Microgreens Regrow After Harvesting?
While some microgreens are capable of regrowing after harvesting, broccoli microgreens do not. Once you harvest your broccoli microgreens, you will need to plant a new batch.
How Should I Harvest Broccoli Microgreens?
Broccoli microgreens are ready to harvest when their first true leaves have grown in. To harvest broccoli microgreens, use a pair of scissors or a sharp knife and cut them off about one inch above the surface of the medium you used to grow them.
How Should I Store Broccoli Microgreens?
Broccoli microgreens are best eaten fresh soon after harvesting, but you can store them for a short period of time. They can be stored in a sealable plastic bag or container and kept in your fridge for 4-5 days. However, you shouldn’t store broccoli microgreens while they’re damp, so be sure to dry them off first with a paper towel.
Why Are My Microgreens Falling Over?
If your microgreens are unable to stay upright, they are probably growing in unsuitable conditions. They may be growing at the wrong temperature, they may not be getting enough moisture (or getting too much), they may not be getting enough sunlight, or they may be suffering from a nutrient deficiency.
If you notice that your broccoli microgreens are falling over, try adjusting the growing conditions in various ways.
Broccoli Microgreens Flavor & How to Use Them
Broccoli microgreens taste similar to regular broccoli, but the flavor is milder. They have a slightly bitter taste, so they pair well with sweet ingredients and dishes as the bitter and sweet flavors complement each other.
The best way to use broccoli microgreens is to eat them raw. Give them a quick rinse, then add them to salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish on various other dishes.
Why Air Movement is Important & How to Prevent Damping Off
Damping-off is a fungal disease that your microgreens can develop if they’re damp and not getting sufficient air circulation.
Air movement helps prevent a number of fungal diseases in microgreens, so it’s important to grow your microgreens in an area with a good amount of air movement. However, too much air movement can desiccate your growing medium, so you need to find a balance.
While growing broccoli microgreens isn’t quite as simple as planting them in any old soil and waiting for them to sprout, it’s also not very difficult to grow them, and they are a good project for novice gardeners looking for an easy attempt.
Broccoli microgreens are incredibly healthy and are easy to add to a variety of dishes. They also taste milder than fully-grown broccoli, which can make them more appealing to people who don’t normally enjoy eating broccoli.
You can grow broccoli microgreens using several different methods, making it a good option for people who enjoy home gardening. Plus, under optimal conditions, they don’t take very long to grow at all.
If you follow the tips and tricks presented in this article, you should have very little trouble growing your broccoli microgreens successfully!