Locally grown food can be hard to come by, especially in the dead of winter but we’ve got it covered here at Greenshire Eco Farms.

Since late December we’ve been growing micro greens in one of our out-buildings; an ex school portable. Micro greens are similar to sprouts in that they are both baby plants but the difference is that micro greens are grown in soil or some other medium they can put their roots in, while sprouts are grown in a container using nothing but air and water.

We started with buckwheat, sunflower, pea shoots, and we are set to have leeks, and cilantro ready to harvest in a week or two. In the coming weeks we’ll be expanding to grow cress and possibly kale and rapini as well.

First the seeds are soaked and sprouted, trays are filled with wet potting mix, soil, and compost, the seeds are scattered thickly on the surface of the soil, and then the trays are covered to keep moisture in and light out until the seeds root into the soil and begin to leaf out

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Once the majority of the leaves are out the trays are put under lights for a few days so they can green up and continue to grow

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The micro greens in the picture below are just starting to green up

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This is what they look like a few days away from harvest. They could be cut at this point but if left a bit longer they will gain a lot more mass and there won’t be nearly as many seed heads to pick off.

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Our pea shoots are all grown by a south facing window, which is ideal since it saves energy, pollution, and overhead costs. Most plants also grow better by a south facing window for a few hours a day, compared to growing under lights 24/7. Ideally we’d grow everything by natural sunlight but there’s only so much window space available.

Here are the peas after a couple of days under lights, greened up and just starting to climb

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And here they are a little further along

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The plants are checked twice a day to mist them, look for any problems, and to knock off seed heads by brushing a hand across the leaves. They generally need water every other day. There can be stark differences in yield between different kinds of micros but we’re averaging 2-3 pounds of greens per tray.

We’ve been taking our harvests to the Peterborough Farmers Market, and local restaurants every saturday since January 4th. It feels great to provide fresh, locally grown food in the middle of winter for ourselves and our customers!

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