How to Grow Cabbage Microgreens Fast and EasyJanuary 21, 2022
Cabbage is a fundamental garden vegetable, so it only makes sense for cabbage to be included in a microgreens garden. This classic cole crop is super easy to grow both ways, so it’s perfect for beginning microgreen growers. Impatient gardeners will also be pleased since these tiny plants grow wicked fast. With some basic instruction, you’ll be harvesting your very own cabbage microgreens in just two weeks!
When you grow cabbage microgreens, you’re not expecting those big, compact heads. Instead, you’ll be harvesting the plant’s cotyledons, which are the first leaves to unfurl from the seed. These baby plants don’t look a thing like cabbage, but they still have the same taste and nutrients (even more, actually). Just a handful of cabbage microgreens benefits your heart health as much as their mature counterparts.
Besides all the nutrients, cabbage microgreens are some of the prettiest ones out there. If you’re going for looks, try a red cabbage variety, like Red Acre. They have lovely lavender stems topped with plump, deep green cotyledons. Not only will red cabbage microgreens adorn your dishes, but they’ll also add life and colour to your indoor garden.
Health Benefits Of Cabbage Microgreens
If you love your garden, your garden will care for your heart – specifically your cardiovascular health! Microgreens contain significantly more nutrients than mature cabbage and red cabbage microgreens are one of the best. A 2016 study found that red cabbage microgreens are abundant with glucosinolates and polyphenols, which are known to lower bad cholesterol. Red cabbage microgreens have also been shown to lower triglycerides and therefore decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease.
The health benefits don’t stop at your heart health. Red cabbage microgreens have a nutritional content that seems to take on almost any health concern. More research has revealed that red cabbage microgreens may help in gastrointestinal health, reduce inflammation, decrease weight gain, even prevent cancer and reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Red cabbage microgreens also contain anthocyanins which are not only responsible for that beautiful colour pigmentation but also handle oxidative stress and combat carcinogens.
To top it off, red cabbage microgreens also provide plenty of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, dietary fibre, and beta carotene (again, much more than a mature cabbage). So if you’re going to eat your greens, why not make them red and micro?
Growing Cabbage Microgreens
Before you get started growing cabbage microgreens, make sure you have these supplies on hand. These microgreens grow quickly, so you don’t want to be scrambling for materials at the last minute.
- Seeds: choose high-quality microgreens seeds of any variety (we prefer the organic red cabbage seeds from True Leaf Market)
- Containers: two shallow growing trays, one with drainage holes and one without
- Growing medium: Epsom seed starting mix or coconut coir
- Light: a working grow light (we’re partial to T5 grow lights)
- A misting bottom
- Kitchen shears
When looking for seeds, you might find some labelled specifically for growing as microgreens. While these are often good options because they’re good plants for micro-growing, any type of seed will work. There’s no real difference between regular cabbage seeds and cabbage microgreen seeds.
Having said that, we have a list of our favourites from True Leaf Market that we highly recommend!
Small seeds grow easiest in fine-grained soil because there isn’t debris blocking their growth. Some seeds, cabbage included, also grow well in coconut coir, which is great for its water retention. You can also experiment with hydroponic soil substitutes like growing pads.
One of the best things about red cabbage microgreens is that you don’t have to worry about fertilizer. The seedlings get all their nutrients from the seed embryo. By the time that supply is exhausted, we’ve already harvested! Since the nutrients are taken care of, we can choose our growing medium solely on its texture and drainage.
Some types of seeds need to soak prior to planting and germination, but cabbage is off the hook. The round, red-brown seeds are small and soft enough to germinate without the extra help.
Let’s start planting by grabbing the growing tray that has drainage holes. Fill it ¾ of the way full with your choice of microgreens growing medium. Smooth out the soil surface and give it a good misting of water.
Next, plant the cabbage seeds by sprinkling them all across the soil surface as evenly as possible. The seeds should cover the entire soil surface without overlapping each other. It’ll take about 4 teaspoons of seeds to cover a 10 × 20 tray. Gently tamp down the soil surface and give it a final misting.
Instead of covering the seeds with a thin layer of soil, we’re going to use a blackout cover. Take the hole-less tray and place it directly on top of the seeds (the bottom should be touching the soil surface). To encourage strong roots, place a small weight on top (up to 5 pounds).
Cabbage seeds will germinate in temperatures ranging from 40-80°F. For best results, the soil should be between 60 and 70°F. Because these temperatures are relatively low, a heating mat isn’t required for this plant.
Keep your cabbage microgreen seeds in their dark place for at least 2-4 days. We call this the blackout period. Once the majority of the seeds have completed germination and sprouted, they’ll collectively push up the blackout cover. This is your signal to relieve them of the weight and move onto the growing stage.
Once you’ve taken off the cover, place the cabbage microgreens 2-4 feet directly beneath a grow light. The grow light, as opposed to natural light, will ensure the greens grow evenly and straight upwards. This is the key to beautiful microgreens (and freeing up your window boxes for more plants!). Turn on the light for at least 12 hours of direct sunlight a day and the seedlings will quickly turn a healthy colour.
Now, we want our growing microgreens to be well watered, but they’re so close together that moisture on the plants is an invitation for bacteria growth. The perfect solution? Bottom-watering!
This is where our cover tray takes on a different role. Fill it with a few inches of water and set the growing tray in it. The soil will absorb water through the drainage holes without a single splatter on the green leaves. After the soil has taken its fill – about 10 minutes – remove the watering tray. Since you can grow cabbage microgreens so quickly, you’ll likely only have to bottom water the soil once.
In just 5-14 days after you plant, your cabbage microgreens will be ready to harvest. Their flavour changes as they mature, usually becoming more bitter with age. You may want to harvest bunches at different times and decide which flavour you prefer.
When ready to harvest, cabbage microgreens will be 1-3 inches tall with fully opened cotyledons and rich colouring. They should always be harvested before the first true leaves grow in.
To harvest, use your kitchen shears to clip the stems in bunches about an inch above the soil. To keep them as fresh as possible, don’t wash the microgreens until you’re ready to use them. In fact, some gardeners don’t wash their harvest at all, provided they know the plants haven’t come in contact with anything unsavoury.
After harvesting, add the spent soil to your compost bin. If you want to reuse it, you’ll have to remove all the seeds and roots. Be sure to wash the trays well before using them for your next microgreen crop (they can be grown year-round, after all!).
As we mentioned, your harvested cabbage microgreens need to be kept dry. Wrap them in paper towels and place the bundle in a sealed container. Stored in the fridge, they’ll keep their fresh for a few days. However, red cabbage microgreens always taste best when eaten right after harvesting.
When deciding what to cook with your red cabbage microgreens, remember that they have a classic Brassic flavour. So, if you would put cabbage or broccoli in a dish, these fresh microgreens may belong there too! Popular choices for this nutritious addition are salads, rice bowls, and stir-fries.