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corn microgreens growing in trays
February 9, 2024
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How to Grow Sweet Corn Microgreens

Corn microgreens are AMAZING! Super sweet, tender, and full of micronutrients, they are one of our Challenger Series because they require a few changes to our normal growing procedure.

Popcorn microgreens are also known as Corn shoots, Gold Popcorn shoots, and Micro Gold shoots and have become a staple in many high-end restaurants because of their beautiful color, shape, and incredible taste.

The most critical difference from all other microgreens is that they must be grown in complete darkness to be sweet and tender. Not just during the blackout period when the cover is on, but during the entire growing cycle. If corn microgreens are exposed to light, they quickly begin the process of photosynthesis. Once photosynthesis begins, the glucose begins to break down, and secondary metabolites are produced. Outside in the garden, this protects the corn from birds and animals that might want to eat it. It produces a bitter taste that makes it unpleasant as a microgreen. So, the trick to tasty corn microgreens is to prevent them from ‘seeing the light’.

INTERESTING FACT: while most people find corn microgreens to be incredibly sweet, some people find the super-sweetness to be bitter. Researchers have identified hundreds of genetic variants in the human body – differences in people’s genetic makeup that are linked with their liking for specific foods. If you prefer less sweet foods, you may find corn microgreens to be a bit bitter- or very sweet with a bitter aftertaste. Harvest them earlier if you find them bitter.

corn microgreen

Growing conditions

Unlike other microgreens that can be grown on a counter or windowsill, corn must have a growing place that can be dark for the entirety of the 5-10 days it takes from planting to harvesting A dark storeroom, a large closet that stays closed (with a small fan), and even a large cardboard box will work to grow corn microgreens.

Besides complete darkness, corn microgreens also require good air circulation to avoid mold.

Grow in an area with good air circulation- a normal home environment is usually sufficient. Adding a small fan in the area will help keep the air moving. Don’t place the fan so that it blows directly on the microgreens, just in the area around them.

The Easiest way to grow corn microgreens

If, like most of us, you do not have a dark room that you can devote to your sweet corn microgreens, a large box is an excellent substitution. Use a larger box to allow good air circulation. Tape the back and two side flaps together, leaving the front flap open (alternately, you can cut the front flap off). Cover the box with a clean, dark towel, and place out of the sun in a room with plenty of air circulation.

Place a box with the top open on a counter. Cover with a dark-colored towel. Leave covered through the growing period, 6-10 days.

Leave the front flap down, under the towel, for good airflow. Choose a larger box to provide enough air circulation.

Directions for Corn Microgreens:

For a 5×5 grow tray you will need up to 1/4 cup of seed. Don’t crowd the seed! First-time growers should start with just 2 tablespoons of seed.

  1. Soak seeds in cool water for 8 hours.
  2. Rinse under cool, running water.
  3. Prepare your tray with an inch or more of soil (one coir disc).
  4. Spread the seeds evenly over the soil.
  5. Cover with a second tray, and add weight (a can of beans, fist-sized rock, etc.).
  6. Leave in an area with good air circulation, but without direct light for 24 hours.
  7. Remove the cover and weight, and place the tray in a dark area to germinate and grow. If you have a small fan available, place it in the growing area- but not blowing directly on the tray.
  8. Water from below only when the soil is drying. Keep the soil barely damp and never soggy.
  9. Harvest 5-10 days. Begin harvesting one each day once they have reached one inch tall so that you can choose the taste and tenderness that you prefer. They will change rapidly, day to day.

Problems?

If you live in a humid area or are growing in the winter with wet/cold weather, you may experience mold. There are several tricks to resolve the problem. Be sure you read the article on mold to ascertain that it is, indeed mold.

  • Avoid growing areas in places that are usually humid: bathrooms, laundry rooms, and damp basements are the usual culprits, but areas with many other plants can also have extra humidity.
  • The next step is to reduce the density of the seed by half. This allows better airflow in the tray.
  • Put a small fan in the area- not blowing directly on the seed, but close enough to move the air around the plants. This helps the top layer of the coir dry faster.
  • Reduce the initial cover time. Take the weight and cover off after just 1 day (instead of the normal 3).

H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) treatment is ideal for mold problems in microgreens. If you continue to have mold issues despite adding extra air circulation, spray the seeds with 3% H2O2 at planting and then spray the soil and seeds once each day during the first 5 days. H2O2 turns into water and oxygen as it quickly degrades. it is the only treatment allowed for organic farming for that reason. Allow 48 hours after using H2O2 before harvesting.

Nutritional Content

Sweet corn microgreens contain serious amounts of vitamins A, B, C, & E, as well as calcium and magnesium, and many phytonutrients that are important for our health.

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Corn Microgreen recipes

Microgreens on pizza? YES! Try this delicious Primavera Pizza recipe by the Hallmark Channel: To retain the flavor and nutrients, be sure to add the microgreens and fresh basil after baking.

A unique lunch idea, here is a Japanese recipe, Ojiya with sweet corn shoots, that is finished with fresh corn microgreens and the surprising taste of sage blossoms!

In the comments below, tell us how you use your corn microgreens!

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