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NZ Lifestyle Block - - Plants With A Purpose - JENNY SOMERVELL

My brother has a funny story about fly­ing home from Amer­ica with his wife and their two tod­dlers. At the end of a very long day, fol­low­ing nu­mer­ous de­lays, in­clud­ing sit­ting in a sta­tion­ary plane on the run­way for two hours, the ex­hausted fam­ily were fi­nally de-planed and put up in a swanky ho­tel.

It should have gone well, but the fraz­zled par­ents, tied up at the re­cep­tion desk, mo­men­tar­ily for­got their off­spring. They turned around to find them pre­tend­ing to be di­nosaurs and munch­ing hap­pily on the house plants in the lobby.

Par­ents with ‘nib­bly’ chil­dren might be pleased to know that grow­ing mi­cro­greens is a quick, re­ward­ing ac­tiv­ity for kids and par­ents: all you need is seed, media, and re­cy­cled con­tain­ers.

Mi­cro­greens are tiny veg­etable or herb greens grown for their vis­ual ap­pear­ance and com­plex flavours and tex­tures. They are larger than sprouts but smaller than baby salad greens, typ­i­cally a cen­tral stem, cotyle­don or seed leaves and the first young two true leaves.

Un­like sprouts, mi­cro­greens are grown in the light in a soil or soil sub­sti­tute, and the root is not har­vested. When they are ready, the stem is cut, leav­ing the root be­hind. Be­cause they are grown in the light, both the flavour and the nu­tri­tional con­tent is greater than sprouts.

Why grow mi­cro­greens?

When your salad greens are cov­ered in win­ter frost (or worse), mi­cro­greens add home-grown colour, tex­ture, flavour, crunch and class to sal­ads, soups, sand­wiches, stir-fries, piz­zas, pies and dips. They are also very healthy, con­tain­ing on av­er­age five times the level of vi­ta­mins and carotenoids than their ma­ture plant coun­ter­parts.

The bonus: mi­cro­greens are cheap and easy to grow, take lit­tle space, and are usu­ally ready in 1-2 weeks from sow­ing.

You might be won­der­ing why not just buy them pre-pack­aged from the su­per­mar­ket? The an­swer is you can’t: mi­cro­greens have a short shelf life - they wilt within min­utes once cut - and their nu­tri­tional value starts to de­te­ri­o­rate from the mo­ment they are picked. Home­grown mi­cro­greens can be har­vested just be­fore serv­ing, so they keep their su­pe­rior nu­tri­tional and medic­i­nal value.

3Bras­si­cas in par­tic­u­lar (broc­coli, cab­bage, mus­tard, rocket and kale) were linked to can­cer preven­tion. High­est rank­ing were radish, daikon (Ja­panese white radish) and broc­coli.

4The more in­tensely-coloured the green, the more nu­tri­tious it is.

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