Organic Gardening
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Top Ten Essentials to Pack for Farming Conferences and Educational Events

Women Farmer Boots in Field 

What do all farm conferences or Mother Earth News Fairs have in common? Inspiring days that by default are long and intense. The schedules are chock full of multiple things to attend. Plus, you’re investing time and money into getting there, which add up to the importance of organizing and packing essentials before you go to maximize your experience. 

Continuing the theme on optimizing your investment in these events, and in the collaborative spirit of my book Soil Sisters, some women farmers share their key essentials to pack for these events. Pre-planning can go a long way in amplifying the impact of your experience.

Here are 10 key things to make sure you pack for your next farming conference or fair:

1. Small notebook and business cards

“To maximize my networking at conferences, I carry both business cards and a little notebook and pen to write down contact information and key notes about the people I meet and want to follow-up on,” shares Dela Ends of Scotch Hill Farm and Innisfree Farmstay. A small notebook dedicated to each conference where you write everything going through your mind, from contacts to session notes to sketches for that new outbuilding you start envisioning, keeps everything in one place.

2. Immunity boosters

“The downside of all of those people in one place: germs. Remember to prioritize keeping healthy by increasing hand washing thoroughness especially after hand shaking,” adds  LindaDee Derrickson of Bluffwood Landing Wool Farm. Not feeling your best and fighting a cold will quickly fizzle your conference experience. Derrickson takes with her homemade elderberry syrup and adds a tablespoon to her water bottle for a natural immunity booster.

3. Healthy snacks

“I find the time in between sessions great for networking, so I don’t want to use that time necessarily to eat,” offers Carly Epping of GreenFire Farm. “My bag always has salty cashews, dried fruit, and 80% chocolate or if I see healthy snacks at the conference I’ll grab a granola bar or fruit for later.”

4. Phone charger

“When I was at a recent event and took a lot of videos and photos, my phone ran out of  battery and finding a place to plug it in and then leave your phone to charge was a complete hassle,” recollects Etienne White of HeartSong Farm. “Next time I’m going to invest in a portable battery bank that can recharge your phone on the go.”

5. Clothing layers

“Be sure to dress in layers as you never know what temperature a conference room might be,” advises Betty Anderson of The Old Smith Place. “Being too hot or too cold can really ruin my attention span and I can’t focus on the session.”  A wool shawl or a fleece pullover is an easy, lightweight option to pack to add a quick extra layer. And don't forget comfortable boots!

You Grow Girl t-shirt on Lisa Kivirist

6. Favorite T-shirts

“I’m a big t-shirt fan as I find wearing t-shirts of farms and other local food places you support is a great way to connect and start conversations,” shares Frankie Koethe of Oahu Resource Conservation and Development Council. “You immediately have a connection with a stranger when they comment on your shirt and t-shirts always are comfortable to wear during long conference days.” Koethe gave me a uniquely designed “You Grow Girl” t-shirt from the Hawaii Women in Agriculture initiative that the Oahu RC&D is leading that should spark an interesting connection and exchange when I wear it to my Midwest events. I loved wearing their t-shirt while putting on my Chinaman's Hat (Mokoli'i Island) "hat" near Kualoa Ranch on Oahu.

7. White noise for sleeping

A good night’s sleep is essential to maximizing your day, but unknown hotel rooms can often bring a variety of street and guest noises that can disturb your sleep patterns. Joylene Reavis of Silver Maple Emu Farm recommends a sleep app on your smartphone that can play soothing background white noise to help you fall asleep. Sleep apps play different sounds from rain drops to fans so you can choose what works best for you. “I leave the phone in to recharge overnight while the background noise is playing,” she adds.

8. Mason jar and fork

“I bring a Mason jar with a lid to conferences as I find that’s an easy solution for both hot and cold beverages that uses something I already have around,” shares April Prusia of Dorothy’s Range. She also packs a fork in case the conference is using single-serving dishware. 

9. Life necessities

Think about all those small things that while you probably won’t need them, having them accessible makes all the difference in a time of need. Long-time farm conference attendee, Pat Skogen, offers her packing list: A couple Band-Aids, toothpicks, reading glasses, breath mints, cough drops, hair brush, tissues, Tylenol, hand lotion and sanitizer, pens, highlighter, Sharpie, paperclips, brochures from your farm business and organizations and events you are involved with, carabiner to hold your keys so they don’t fall out, cash and checkbook for vendors that don’t take credit cards.

10. Carry-it-all bag

The key piece to bringing these essentials together is the right bag that is easy to carry and roomy enough to add in whatever other handouts and conference swag you may collect. I’m partial to my classic backpack that keeps my hands free and has lots of pockets.

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband, John D. Ivanko, a photographer and drone pilot, have co-authored Rural RenaissanceHomemade for Sale, the award-winning  ECOpreneuring  and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son, Liam, and millions of ladybugs. Read all of Lisa’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Six Strategies to Optimize your Investment in Farm Conferences or Educational Events

 Keynote at Oahu RCandD at KoHana Distillers

The winter months usher in an inspiring annual line-up of farm conferences from coast to coast, some tailored to small farms, including EcoFarm in California, PASA’s Sustainable Agriculture Conference in Pennsylvania, and the MOSES Organic Farming Conference in the Midwest. And there are the Mother Earth News Fairs at numerous spots around country throughout the year, too. But add in the cost of conference fees, lodging and travel as well as time away from the farm or homestead, and the stakes are high that you want a strong knowledge return on the investment it takes to attend, especially if you are a beginning farmer with limited resources.

What’s the best resource to help navigate these conferences and make the most of your attendance? Advice from fellow farmers and homesteaders seasoned in attending such events.  I tapped into the network of women farmers I write about in Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers and via my hats leading the MOSES In Her Boots Project and Soil Sisters Wisconsin event for easy and accessible tips to maximize your investment in attending a conference or fair.

Given the collaborative spirit of our sustainable and organic agriculture community, not surprisingly, most of these ideas root in connecting with the people who are there. But don’t leave these connections to just happen. Read on for creative and strategic ways to amplify conference encounters to both harvest new knowledge peppered with new friendships. 

One key thing to remember when attending any conference: all of the costs associated with your trip can qualify as legitimate, deductible, business expenses as my husband, John Ivanko, and I write about in our book, ECOpreneuring. This is an important distinction in your evolution from hobby to business owner: education and new skill development related to your operations can be a deductible expense. From the registration fees to lodging to meals that you eat out while traveling, save your receipts and consider deducting these expenditures as an expense item on your profit and loss statement.

Here are six tips on maximizing your farm conference attendance:

1. Seek out attendees with similar interests. “When you attend a session topic that is specific to your interests, look around at who is in the room and seek out these kindred spirits to talk with during breaks and meals,” advises Cherrie Nolden of 1dr Acres Farm. “When people ask questions or make statements regarding their experience, that gives a lot of insight on their level of skill in that area of production, so that can guide what you may be able to learn from a side conversation with them.”

Deb Jakubek of Moos Farms adds that she purposefully sits next to strangers at meals and introduces herself. It may seem awkward at first, but remember everyone is in the same boat. It always amazes me how at a conference with hundreds of people, how often I end up sitting at lunch with someone from my home area that I never met before.

2. Create Facebook Group meet-ups. “I participate in a few pastured pigs Facebook Groups, and I always post to see who else is going to a conference I’m attending. It is fun to meet folks that you have been learning from online and exchange information in person,” imparts April Prusia of Dorothy’s Range. “Last year at the MOSES Conference, I met fellow pig farmer Dayna Burtness of Nettle Valley Farm, who I had just known online. Meeting folks in person solidifies a relationship and now I value her words of wisdom even more so.” Since the conference, Prusia and Burtness have messaged each other back in forth to help each other identify and treat sick pigs. 

Prusia adds another interesting way to connect: When you are at a workshop, take some photos of the farmers presenting and share them via a private Facebook message. “It’s always appreciated to have photos of yourself speaking, but it’s something that when you are in the moment often don’t remember to ask someone to do and it’s an easy thing to do while sitting in the audience.”

3. Tap into the conference app to connect. Increasingly, larger conference like the MOSES Organic Farming Conference provide a free conference app for your smartphone that can really help navigate beyond just the program schedule.

“Download the app and familiarize yourself with it before the conference as it is kept up-to-date with any changes that happen to the schedule, has a lot of great information, and connects you with other attendees,” shares Lauren Langworthy, MOSES executive director.  “For example, folks might post when a workshop room is getting full or quotes or pictures from a session they're really enjoying.”

4. Volunteer. “Find a company you believe in and use their product or a non-profit organization you are connected with and offer to help staff the booth for a couple hours,” offers FL Morris of Grassroots Farm and the South Central Wisconsin Hemp Cooperative. “My experience is that when I stay in one place with a lot of traffic, I connect with more people flowing past me than when I myself am milling about.”

At the You Grow Girl! Celebrating Hawaii Women in Agriculture event, Nicole Correa of Double D Farm and Ranch volunteered to coordinate buffet flow during supper, walking from table to table and sending each one to the food line systematically so no one was waiting in line long, just as you often see at wedding receptions. “This gave me opportunity to chat at each table and meet just about everyone at the event, which was a fabulous networking opportunity,” adds Correa.

5. Go to Keynotes. “Always listen to the keynotes,” adds Katie Micetic Bishop of PrairiErth Farm. “It’s easy to use that time to hit the trade show floor, but I find those keynotes are always gold and have become one of my favorite part of conferences.” Conference organizers typically strive to bring in keynotes with perspectives that are out of the usual farming box that can send you home with new visions.

6. Follow up. “Remember to make the most of networking while you are there by asking for business cards,” offers Sherri Dugger, executive director of the Women, Food and Agriculture Network (WFAN) and Dugger Family Farm.

“When you get someone else’s card, make a note on the back of it about what you discussed or why you would like to follow up with them.” Give yourself a deadline of say two weeks after the conference to actually do that follow-up, or, as Dugger and all of us have experienced, it never happens. “I have hundreds of cards at this point, and I wish I had always done this.”

Lisa Kivirist, with her husband, John D. Ivanko, a photographer and drone pilot, have co-authored Rural RenaissanceHomemade for Sale, the award-winning  ECOpreneuring  and Farmstead Chef cookbook along with operating Inn Serendipity B&B and Farm, completely powered by renewable energy. Kivirist also authored Soil Sisters. As a writer, Kivirist contributes to MOTHER EARTH NEWS, most recently, Living with Renewable Energy Systems: Wind and Solar and 9 Strategies for Self-Sufficient Living. They live on a farm in southwestern Wisconsin with their son, Liam, and millions of ladybugs. Read all of Lisa’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Sowing Seeds: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know

seedlings-4186033_1280
Photo by Pixabay/DarkWorkX

How to Sow Seeds Under Cover

Start seeds off under the protection of a greenhouse, tunnel or cold frame, or use a sunny indoor windowsill. Use a propagator for tender crops like tomatoes, or secure clear plastic over the top of pots with a rubber band.

Germinate cool-season crops such as onions, celery and cabbage on a sunny windowsill then move into a greenhouse, tunnel or cold frame once they’ve germinated.

Alternatively, grow seedlings indoors under grow lights.

Choosing the Right Time to Sow

Avoid sowing too early. This can result in having to transplant seedlings into bigger containers more often before it’s time to transplant into the ground, wasting potting mix and taking up valuable space under cover.

Refer to the Plant List in our Garden Planner to find recommended times to sow and plant in your garden’s location.

Seed Flats vs Plug Trays

Seed flats are great for very small seeds (eg basil), and easy-to-transplant flower seeds. They are space-efficient during the first stage of growth. Transplant seedlings into their own pots or plug trays when they’re big enough to handle.

Plug trays with larger plugs are ideal for bigger seeds such as beans, and smaller plugs for crops like lettuce and onions.

Sowing Your Seeds in Plug Trays

Fill your plug trays with seed compost, or screen all-purpose potting mix to a fine texture. Use your fingertips to make shallow depressions– about a quarter of an inch deep is fine for most crops. Sow your seeds into the holes then bury the seeds by sieving a little more potting mix over the top. Label trays with the variety and date of sowing. Water carefully.

Get More Tips with These Great Gardening Resources

Our popular Vegetable Garden Planner can help you map out your garden design, space crops, know when to plant which crops in your exact location, and much more.

Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.

More Videos

Watch more videos on gardening techniques and other self-reliance, DIY topics on our Wiser Living Videos page.

 

'Bob Steffen's' Hardneck Garlic: Try This Drought- and Flood-Tolerant Giant Variety for Changing Climates

Laughing Farmer Holding Hardneck Garlic 
Betsy Samuelson with 'Bob Steffen's' Hardneck Garlic. Readers interested in this garlic variety can reach Betsy here.

Floods, drought, ruined harvests--by now many of us have experienced these--and we hear it may get worse. In previous posts we’ve considered paths to resilience through soil health. But the missing piece in every resilient gardener’s toolbox is seed, locally adapted seed, as this story by farmer Betsy Samuelson explains so well.

Garlic isn’t typically grown from seed. It is grown by saving a few of the plumpest bulbs at harvest time, separating the bulbs into cloves, and planting those cloves the very same fall. Nonetheless, folks call it “seed garlic” and grow it each year to continue the existence of favored varieties.

If you search for Bob Steffen’s Hardneck garlic you won't find it, because I am one of three keepers of this 80-year old variety.  Bob Steffen’s Hardneck can be as big as elephant garlic, but it is much more flavorful and only has four cloves. The cloves are so big that to use a garlic press, you must cut each clove in quarters. It’s also super easy to peel. These characteristics make it a real pleasure to have on hand. It never had a name, so we call it Bob Steffens Hardneck to give credit where credit is due, Bob spent a lifetime breeding this variety.

Bob was the Farm Superintendent at Boys Town from 1943-1977. He led commercial-scale organic and biodynamic farming methods in the Midwest. Bob Steffen died in 2006 and I never met him. But his son Jim and I served together on a local food policy council. At that time I had been growing his father’s special variety of garlic for some years.

Bob Steffens Hardneck garlic came into my care while I was working as the Production Manager at Bloomsorganic Farm in Crescent, Iowa. Diversity among varieties of herbs, vegetables, and flowers was our specialty. We grew over a hundred varieties of tomatoes and about nine varieties of garlic. Bob Steffen was a mentor to Bloomsorganic Farm owner, Rebecca Bloom, and gave her a handful of seed garlic 30-some years ago.

Beginning April 2011, a major flood event occurred in the Missouri River Valley and our garlic crop was in saturated soil, if not underwater, until its July harvest. Only two or three varieties survived, and Bob Steffens Hardneck was among those. Then between Spring 2012 and Summer 2013 our region was in a major drought. To our astonishment, this variety prevailed in drought and flood conditions.

As if the garlic hadn’t suffered enough, aster yellows (a bacteria carried by the aster leafhopper) hit the crop in 2014. All the garlic varieties quickly began to dieback prematurely. When harvested, most every bulb had major discoloration and a putrid smell. However, it was clear that one variety didn’t take too big of a hit: Bob Steffen’s Hardneck.

When I left Bloomsorganic Farm in 2015, I grabbed some cloves of Bob Steffen’s Hardneck. This fall, I made sure to plant about 30 cloves at my childhood home, which is about half a mile from Boys Town. I like to think that it is happy to be growing there now, that maybe it has a remembrance of its origin, in such close proximity. After all, seeds (or cloves) hold a memory of all the generations that came before and they store the potential of everything yet to be. Seed saving connects me to previous generations, to the earth that supports our being, to my own spirit. Bob Steffen couldn’t have predicted whether anyone would continue to cultivate his garlic into the future, but I am sure grateful for all the trouble he went through to create this variety. Hopefully, I can leave such gifts for future generations – this is why I am devoted to saving seed and sharing it with pure delight.

Betsy's fascination with the cycles of life inspired her community and policy activism surrounding non-commercial seed sharing. She seeks to empower others to save and share seeds.

Pamela Sherman gardens with her husband at 8,300 feet on part of an old pioneer farm on the Front Range of the Colorado Rockies. She can be reached here. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Unique Gardening Tools That are Surprisingly Handy: Plant Sensors, Ergonomic Shovels, and More

 

Photo by Unsplash/NeONBRAND

Everyone has hobbies in life, but it's especially rewarding to create things with your own hands. The same joy that makes people paint pictures on canvas and write countless books fuels other activities, like tending to plants and caring for the earth.

A special thrill comes with being self-sufficient and growing a successful garden. You get to know each plant personally while you defend them from pests and drought, ultimately harvesting delicious food or bouquets of gorgeous flowers.

No gardener or homesteader would be complete without the equipment that makes gardening possible. Step up your game this year by checking out seven unique gardening tools that are surprisingly handy. They could make your passion easier without taking away the pride that comes from cultivating life.

1. Get an Ergonomic Shovel

If you've laid out a large garden, you know your plants wouldn't thrive nearly as well without the use of a shovel. This tool makes a home for each of your seedlings, quickly aerating the soil as you go.

You may believe that every shovel is equal, but that's not true. Look into getting an ergonomic option this year, which will take into account its weight and handle design. Shovels made with fiberglass handles are top-of-the-line since they minimize the weight of the tool without reducing its effectiveness. 

Radius makes great shovels that model this design, as well as HERShovel. Compare models to narrow down which is right for you and your preferred type of gardening.

2. Try an Electronic Plant Sensor

garden plant sensor

You might feel the creative urge to plant something new this year, but you're not sure where to put it. It needs a specific amount of sunlight and water, which will change depending on where you on your property.

Electronic plant sensors are garden gadgets that change the game. Stick one next to the seedling you want to monitor, and it will gather information like how often the leaves are in direct sun and how long the soil holds moisture. Easybloom is one of the most popular plant sensor brands you can choose for your garden, along with Gro Water and Parrot. 

3. Build a Compost Tumbler

Part of being self-sustainable is finding new ways to create what you need. If you haven't tried composting yet, this year may be the time to start.

A compost tumbler holds all your biodegradable materials and rotates them for a thorough decomposition process. Traditional bins make the contents sit in one spot for months on end, while circulation benefits the process. You can build a compost tumbler yourself or look for one online from major brands like Yimby or Envirocycle.

4. Play With an Online Garden Planning Tool

Garden Planner MOTHER EARTH NEWS

You may feel stuck when you imagine your future garden. You have a variety of plants to choose from, but you're not sure how to set everything up. Before you reach for your gardening mat and trusty spade, try an online planning tool that allows you to visualize your garden with graphics.

Many homesteaders use the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Garden Planner, Garden Planner Online, and Plan Garden to map out what and where they'll plant. The right site for you will depend on the size and purpose of what you want to grow.

5. Carry a Fruit Picker Basket

Most people picture small shrubs and flowers when they think of gardening, but fruit trees bloom in gardens as well. Don't waste time hauling around a ladder and bucket this year when it's time to harvest. Use a fruit picker basket instead, which quickly plucks ripe fruit from the branch and holds it in a cushioned basket. 

Look for brands such as Flexrake and Ohuhu, something with features like weightless fiberglass handles and poles. The cushioning is also essential to prevent bruising, though you can add it at home if needed.

6. Wield an Electric Weeder

Say goodbye to the days of yanking out weeds with aching knees and a sore back. This year, defeat your garden's enemies with an electric weeder that takes care of invading plants with infrared heat. The heat makes the weeds explode on a cellular level so that you won't need chemical-based pesticides.

Compare products from Rittenhouse and Nature Zap to see which work best in your garden. 

7. Set Up a Solar Sprinkler

Another way to ditch pesticides, chemical treatments and electric fences is to use a solar sprinkler around your garden. They gather energy from the sun and turn on when they detect motion. If a raccoon tries to grab a snack in the middle of the night, the device will shoot water at them. 

Many gardeners trust brands like Orbit, Havahart and ScareCrow to get the job done. Test them out for yourself and consider positioning them on multiple spots around your garden to defend it all day.

Find Unique Gardening Tools That Meet Your Needs

Consider the kind of garden you want to grow or currently have in your yard. What do you spend the most time doing, and where could you make things easier? 

A compost tumbler could free you from buying chemical fertilizers. The right plant sensor may be what you need to grow that mysterious new seedling. Think about the cool gardening tools above and decide which would help you the most.

Kayla Matthews writes and blogs about healthy living, sustainable consumption, eco-friendly practices and green energy. In the past, her work has also been featured on GRIT, Mother Earth Living, Blue And Green Tomorrow, Dwell and Houzz. To read more from Kayla, follow her productivity and lifestyle blog, Productivity Theory, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Creating Community at The Keller Market House

The Keller Market House in Lancaster, Ohio

Keller Grocery in downtown Lancaster, Ohio bustled with activity and provisions for the growing town from just after the Civil War to the year World War I broke out. Since 1914 it has been many other businesses and even a church. The building is once again bustling with groceries, produce and even handcrafts sourced from local farmers, bakers and craftspeople. The original floorboards creak and the tin ceiling welcomes a new generation of shoppers. Part of the revitalization of the historic downtown and surrounded by small boutiques, antique shops and a growing number of restaurants and a microbrewery, the Keller Market House is a hub of community, a meeting place, and oversees the popular seasonal farmers’ market.

 Fresh foods at Keller Market

With a belief that fresh foods are fundamental to health and that welcoming public spaces are critical to the health of the downtown and the community, this year-round, indoor market with over 80 vendors has accomplished much in the last three years. The aisles are filled with locally grown seasonal produce, sauces, jams, spices, honey, meats and baked goodies.

Beepothecary honey products

Soaps and locally made natural body cares concoctions scent the air with lavender and other fragrant herbs. Jewelry and stained glass catch the light on a sunny day and handmade wooden cutting boards delight the eye with rich cherry wood. Keller Market provides an outlet for local producers to get their goods right to the consumer throughout the year.

 Local crafts include cherry cutting boards

Taking over the downtown Farmers Market and moving to the lot behind the Market House has helped drive traffic to the storefront on Saturdays and that is now their highest sales day.  It also brought more vendors into the store and helped those who were only selling on Saturdays to increase sales and forge relationships with consumers by having their products available all week and not just on Farmers Market day.

Keller Market House local food and crafts

Erin Harvey, market manager, is seeing an increase in the demand for local food and an increase in opportunities for local farmers/homesteaders, bakers and home-based food production. One couple relocated from Florida to start farming and selling at the Market and the Farmers’ Market because of the local demand. A goal for the future is to provide business support and guidance for new farmers and producers.

 Local poultry at Keller Market House

As a nonprofit, Keller market House has received grant support from the Fairfield County Foundation to start the nonprofit at the beginning and recently a $14,000 grant for a new kitchen. Due to be completed this winter, the kitchen will provide a place for cooking classes, a commercial kitchen space for caterers for events in the Market meeting space, and a future pop-up coffee shop used by commercial outfits.

 Locally produced pickles at Keller Market House

The business model relies on volunteers, community support, and grants to keep the costs down and the percentage going to the producers of food remains high while keeping dollars in the community. The Market board consists of  local business professionals, culinary artists and farmers with the vision and passion to build a community around eating locally and well.

Wendy Gregory spent her career working with children as a culinary and gardening teacher in an arts-based summer camp for at-risk children in Nelsonville, Ohio, and as the director of a children’s museum in Lancaster, Ohio. She is a freelance writer exploring the ways seniors can contribute, grow, and reinvent themselves in a new chapter of life. Read all of Wendy’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on their byline link at the top of the page.

Growing Microgreens from Sowing to Harvest

vegetables
Photo by Pixabay/JillWellington

Growing Microgreens from Sowing to Harvest

Microgreens are incredibly speedy, reaching harvesting size just five to 25 days after sowing. The crops most commonly grown as microgreens are leafy herbs, salads and brassicas such as radishes and turnips.

To grow microgreens indoors in winter, you need some grow lights. If you’re purchasing a new set it’s worth considering LED grow lights, which are more energy efficient than fluorescent lights. You’ll also need seed flats, seeds and a finely-sieved potting mix.

Sowing and Growing Microgreens 

Fill the trays to within half an inch of the rim with your potting mix. Tamp it all down with something flat-bottomed such as a block of wood. Broadcast your seeds across the potting mix surface, aiming for an even spread and avoiding clumps.

Broadcast sow your seeds, crisscrossing back and forth across the surface of the potting mix. Try to avoid any clumps. Gently tamp the seeds down so they are in good contact with the potting mix. Use a mister or spray bottle to water your seeds.

Move the trays to somewhere warm and stack the trays two or three deep, then place an empty tray on top and weigh it down. Applying gentle pressure like this helps produce thicker stems and stronger growth.  As soon as your seeds germinate, transfer the seed flats to under your grow lights.

Keep your grow lights on for between 12 and 16 hours per day. Check the potting mix daily, and mist with fresh water if dry.

Harvesting Microgreens 

Harvest your microgreens when they’re around one to three inches tall, and have produced their first adult leaves. Snip them off close to the bottom of the stem using scissors.

Microgreens are most nutritious when eaten immediately, but they can be kept in plastic bags in the salad compartment of your refrigerator for up to five days. Serve them in salads or use them as a gourmet garnish.

Get More Tips with These Great Gardening Resources

Our popular Vegetable Garden Planner can help you map out your garden design, space crops, know when to plant which crops in your exact location, and much more.

Need crop-specific growing information? Browse our Crops at a Glance Guide for advice on planting and caring for dozens of garden crops.

More Videos

Watch more videos on gardening techniques and other self-reliance, DIY topics on our Wiser Living Videos page.







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