Growing Sunflower Shoot Microgreens

Updated: Mar 13


We tend to know sunflowers as the beautiful flowers that we see while strolling through a trail, or neighborhood park. Sunflowers, although beautiful, aren’t just ornamental, but they can be used for other purposes too. The use of sunflowers has been around since the time of American Indians. The American Indian tribes would often use it for cooking, snacks and medicinal purposes. Most of us are familiar with snacking on sunflower seeds or the use of the oil through cooking, but did you know that they are also gaining popularity during the first shoot. Did you know that you can actually consume the shoots? There are incredible health benefits that come from consuming sunflower microgreens. The shoots are high in unsaturated fats, fiber, protein, calcium, iron and other nutrients.

Here are some facts about sunflower shoots:

  1. Sunflower Sprouts contain approximately 25% protein and are a rich source of vitamins A, B complex, and E and minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc.

  2. Sunflower Shoots also contain, healthy fats, essential fatty acids, fibre, and phytosterols. Numerous clinical trials have demonstrated that daily consumption of foods enriched with at least 0.8 g of plant sterols or stanols lowers serum LDL cholesterol.

  3. Both sunflower seeds and their shoots contain high amounts of vitamin E. Vitamin E works synergistically with vitamin C and selenium to reduce blood pressure, increase the elasticity of arteries and prevent heart disease.

  4. The sunflower shoot is a natural expectorant for chest congestion: In Ayurvedic medicine, these sprouts are thought to have the ability to encourage clearance of the lungs. Natural expectorants may also be used as a preventative measure against lower respiratory infections to deter the invasion of pathogens.

Sunflower shoots at first may not look very impressive but when applied to food they tend to steal the show. Sunflower shoots tend to elevate any dish, from throwing a few on a simple salad to a Michelin star restaurant gracefully placing a shoot on top of something extraordinary. Sunflower shoots are graced with a nutty flavor and a crunchy texture.

We love sunflower shoots so we’ll be giving you some tips on how to grow them. Here are some of our tips on how to grow them.

Cycle: 9-11 days from seed to harvest

Soak:

  1. Room temperature water, 8-12 hours

  2. 60 minute sanitize can serve as soaking

Key Growing Strategies:

  1. Soak seeds in room temperature water

  2. Minimized, but optimized, light exposure

  3. Do not let lodge when covered

  4. Water stress leads to hardier shoots - they can recover from severe wilt in a matter of hours

Uncovering:

  1. Sunnies should be uncovered when shoots are about 2 inches long or shorter.

  2. A better indicator than shoot length is that they should be uncovered when still perfectly vertical and before the weight of covering trays causes them to lodge

light.

  1. Minimum 2 days light in summer; 3-4 days better in winter, 4 days optimum, depending on conditions.

  2. Double up cover trays to prevent light pockets through drainage holes.

  3. Avoid excess or overly intense light as this can cause an undesirable texture.

Watering:

  1. Do not water upon uncovering - give at least one day stress

  2. Water consistently afterward for good growth; wet soil also makes trays easier to clean

  3. Be sure to water trays consistently - back of trays often neglected

  4. Rotate trays 180 degrees every 2 days in winter growing conditions

  5. Excess water in hot conditions creates rapid growth but a flavorless and inferior sprout

  6. Drainage is crucial

Stressors:

  1. Restricting water early in the uncovered stage leads to a redder stem and nuttier flavor

  2. Colder weather stunts growth, can also cause reddened stems

  3. Excess heat causes rapid, weak growth

Disease:

  1. Susceptible to mold with poor air circulation and warm, wet conditions

  2. Mold susceptibility varies between seed lots

  3. Minor disease can be present in 5-10% of trays with little effect on yield

  4. Disease presence on new seeds is to be expected as they adapt to conditions in the greenhouse; 3-5 weeks may be required for the greenhouse ecosystem to adapt to new seeds

These are just some general tips on how to grow sunflower shoot microgreens. We’re in love with Sunflower shoots over here at Nick Greens. If you have any questions feel free to contact us.

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      nick@nickgreens.com      

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