Sunflower Green (Black Oil) are the iconic microgreens. Sunflower is a quick and vigorous grower, this crop produces a large harvest in a short amount of time making it perfect as a main crop for indoor growing. Sunflower has a delicious nutty flavour with the most satisfying crunch.
Sunflower microgreens contain all the essential amino acids as well as potassium, magnesium, calcium, copper, iron and phosphorous. Also rich in zinc to help boost the immune system and gut health.
How to grow Sunflower Microgreen Seeds:
Sprouting Method -
1. Make sure that the Sprouter is super clean and sterile.
2. Place the seeds in the bottom of the Sprouter (no grid tray in place).
3. Cover the seeds with tepid water. Stir the seeds to ensure that all the seeds get soaked, a vital process for smaller seeds. (Use water that is at room temperature, water that is either too hot or too cold can shock the seeds and also slow the germination process).
Don't put too much seed in the tray, allow the seed sufficient room to expand… insufficient space will lead to mould issues as air cannot circulate sufficiently.
4. After the initial soak of 8-12 hours, skim off any floating seeds, empty the water by using the grid tray, so that the seeds get caught in the grid, the seeds should be left damp and not swimming in water. Drain as much of the water as possible.
NOTE - if using small seeds then the Bamboo paper needs to be placed on top of the grid otherwise the seeds will fall through the grid tray!
5. Place grid tray with seeds in the Sprouter and cover with clear lid.
6. Rinse 2-3 times per day with room temperature water, by running water through the seeds on the grid tray. Use lots of water and if possible, rinse under high-pressure water. Drain as much of the water as possible.
7. Sunflowers don't need light to germinate so you can keep them in a low light environment. Growing in light may make them taste bitter.
8. Continue the rinse cycle until harvest, typically 2-3 days.
9. De-hulling before refrigerating is necessary.
Microgreen Method -
Jar or bowl for soaking
3 x Growing trays
Quick Growing Guide
- Soak seeds in a jar or bowl for 8-12 hours. It's important to make sure that all the seeds are covered - Sunflowers will float- so you need to find a way of keeping them submerged
- Drain off soak water.
- Rinse and drain repeatedly for the next 8-12 hours
- When the seeds have the tiniest of roots showing plant on thoroughly moistened medium
- Cover the crop with another tray to keep light out and moisture. Ideally use a tray with holes in as a cover tray as this will aid air circulation, especially during warmer summer months
- Keep the growing moist by spraying lightly
- When the plants have pushed up the cover tray remove the cover and move to a well-lit location
- Harvest when the leaves are open and the majority have shed their shells
- Cut them just above the growing medium with either scissors or a sharp knife
Detailed Growing Guide
When growing these microgreens - You really MUST pre-sprout before planting.
Put seed into a jar, bowl or a sprouter.
Fill with cool/tepid water.
ESSENTIAL SOAKING NOTE: Whole Sunflower Seeds float.
To get them all to soak up water well, it is necessary to keep them all underwater during their soak. We do this with a mason jar - topped with a screen lid, or a plate atop a bowl. Whatever you use - keep them all underwater!
Allow your seeds to soak for 8-12 hours.
Empty the seeds into your jar and drain off the soak water.
You may water plants with it if you like - it has nutrients in it.
Rinse thoroughly with cool/tepid water.
Set your jar anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature between rinses.
This is where your sprouts do their growing. We use a countertop - in the corner of our kitchen, but where the jar won't get knocked over. We don't mind the indirect sunlight or room light, because light just does not matter much. A plant can only perform photosynthesis when it has leaves. Until then light has little if any effect. Microgreens also happen to like air-circulation, so don't hide your microgreens in a cupboard.
Rinse and drain again in 8-12 hours.
When most of the seeds have sprouted tiny roots, or even better, when they are just showing the hint of a root, it is time to plant. This is typically after just 2-3 rinse and drain cycles.
Planting and Growing
Coconut Coir is our preferred medium as it holds moisture better than any other medium. It releases nutrients as the plants grow. It's less messy than soil - though it feels like the loveliest, loamiest soil you can imagine. The only trick to Coir is getting the medium properly moist. Saturated is perfect. Puddles is too much.
Spread seeds evenly on a thoroughly moistened medium.
Though some literature will tell you that your seeds should not ever lay atop each other…that is rubbish! You will learn for yourself that some microgreens (like these) produce a plant that takes up less room than the seed, and so, to maximise your yield, your seeds must lay atop each other to some degree. The thing to watch is this: If you find mould or fungal problems in your microgreens, lessen the amount of seed you plant. The hotter/more humid your climate is the more of an issue the mould/fungus is. As always, you need to adapt to your own climate and seasonal conditions.
Cover the planted tray with an inverted tray (the cover tray) - to keep light out and moisture in. The covering tray should have holes or slits in it to allow air circulation.
Place in a low-light, room temperature location. Sunflower greens will grow very well in cooler or slightly warmer temperatures also.
Water lightly once or twice a day.
The goal is to keep the seeds moist until their roots bury themselves in the medium - at which point your goal is to keep the medium moist. Spraying the microgreens is best - if you use a sprayer in your sink - just try to make sure that every seed gets rinsed and quenched until they bury their roots
Once the roots are buried all you need to do is keep the medium moist - the plants will get the moisture they need through their roots.
Use the drip tray to hold some water. The roots will actually sit in this, so don't go crazy - too much can drown your plants and/or lead to fungal or mould problems. Just leave as much water as the microgreens can drink in a day and then add more the following day. The amount is dependant on the size of your tray and the climate (humidity especially) you're growing in, so you'll have to learn this for yourself.
Greening Your Sunflowers
Uncover your microgreens in 3-4 days, or when they are about an inch tall, or when they push the covering tray up! They really will do that!
Move your crop to a well-lit location. Direct sunlight is a very good idea for microgreens. Keep your medium moist. The bigger your plants grow the more quickly they drink water.
Harvesting your crop is just a matter of cutting the plants when they are about 2-4 inches tall and have green leaves. Cut the plants just above the surface of the medium.
Harvest should occur BEFORE true leaves begin to show. They are leaves that will appear from the centre of the first 2 leaves. If you see a few microgreens with these tiny leaves forming then get your scissors out - the microgreens get less tasty (a bit bitter) if let go too long.
Shells: Sunflower Greens will shed their shells as the leaves open, but there are always some that are slow to shed. We remove the loose ones like this: Hold the tray at a steep angle and brush your hand back and forth over the top of the Greens. Some leaves won't shed their shells - you will either need to peel the shells off of those or discard those. Eating the shell is generally frowned upon by one's stomach!
If you are going to store your crop, you want your microgreens to be as dry as possible, to the touch before refrigerating. So, don't water too close to harvest time.
Transfer your crop to a plastic bag or a sealed container.
Did You Know?
We now stock growing essentials for Microgeen and Sprouting growers, you can find the full range HERE
Feeling daunted by the world of Microgreens and Sprouting and don't know where to start...then why not have a look at our starter kits for inspiration:
And don't forget to join our Microgreen Club and enjoy year-round benefits HERE
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