Hemp mats are ideal for growing microgreens and wheatgrass. They are made of 100% natural hemp fibre, creating a biodegradable soilless growing medium with high water retention. Easy to use with no mess they can be composted after use.
What are Hemp Mats made from?
Hemp mats consist of fully compostable, 100% natural (industrial) hemp fibre. The fibres are intertwined to form strong but light and airy mats. They are a very clean growing medium. Industrial hemp includes all varieties of cannabis cultivated for commercial use – apart from its use as intoxicants or medicines. Industrial hemp is a tall, leafy plant with a strong, fibrous stem. Hemp fibres are the most important raw material of industrial hemp, both in terms of quantity and use. From ancient times to the present, hemp fibres have been and are used to make a variety of products. Historically, they were particularly important for the production of canvas and ropes until well into the 19th century. In 1455 Gutenberg printed the first bible on hemp paper. In 1492, Columbus sailed to America with sails and ropes of hemp.
Microgreens and Wheatgrass
Hemp mats are ideal for growing microgreens and wheatgrass. They have all the advantages of compost without the associated problems of storing and moving a large bag of compost. They are also cleaner if they are to be used in a kitchen. As the microgreens are only on the mats for approx two weeks there is no need for the nutrients in compost – that is provided by the seeds themselves. Matting can be bought as a roll of 15m x 1m or in convenient 1m x 1m lengths. It is made in Holland.
Microgreens are tiny edible plants that are older than a sprout, but younger than a full-grown plant. Microgreens are harvested after the first “true” leaves have developed. They need hemp or soil and light to grow. They are a concentrated nutrient source and packed with beneficial enzymes because of their rapid growth.
Wheatgrass is also a microgreen – the wheat germinates and grows to about 15-20cms before it is cut and juiced. Unlike other microgreens it is grown for juice rather than its physical appearance
What are the best seeds for microgreens?
This depends on the leaf that you want in the end! All viable seed will grow into microgreens – but some are more colourful or have a spicy taste. Beetroot will give you lovely dark leaves while sunflower will give you bulk and a good textured leaf. The brassicas and mustards will give a hot spicy taste whilst peas will give you both that lovely fresh pea taste and attractive tendrils. You could also experiment with making your own mix. You should always use seeds from a reputable source, preferably organic.
What equipment do I need?
Good quality organic seed compost or hemp mats are essential. You will also need trays of some sort – either seed trays or small containers. You might need an additional light source in winter.
• Soak the seeds for 6-12 hours. Rinse and drain well.
• Sprinkle the soaked seeds over a tray lined with a pre- soaked hemp mat or compost and press down gently.
• Use more seeds than you would normally to ensure a good crop of leaves.
• Keep mat or compost moist (but not soaking). You should see signs of germination after about 6 days.
• Microgreens are best kept at a steady temperature of about 20°C
• Cut after about two weeks, or when you are happy with your crop!
• Keep the tray in darkness for first 1-3 days depending on the seeds, after that you should place your seeds in sunlight or a well lit place, for approximately 8-10 hours per day.
Tips for perfect microgreens
• Don’t overwater! Too much water means seeds aren’t able to get oxygen to their roots. It also increases the risk of algae or fungus growth.
• Your trays should have good drainage whether you’re using soil or hemp mats.
• Don’t plant seeds too densely together. Roots growth will make water drainage difficult. As microgreens get taller, they can form a canopy if they’re too thick which traps in humidity and heat, which can cause the growth of mold and fungus.
• You might want to consider shading your plants to offer them some protection if they’re getting too much sunlight.
• Always use fresh, top quality seed and quality growing mediums.
• When storing seeds, make sure to seal the package tight. Keep seeds stored in a cool, dark, dry place. Light can damage them, and if they accidentally get too wet or humid they might start to sprout in storage
Health Benefits of Microgreens and Wheatgrass
Microgreens are packed with nutrients. While their nutrient contents vary slightly, most varieties tend to be rich in potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and copper. Microgreens are also a great source of beneficial plant compounds like antioxidants. Microgreens are also rich in enzymes, which enable them to be more easily digested. What’s more, their nutrient content is concentrated, which means that they often contain higher vitamin, mineral and antioxidant levels than the same quantity of mature greens. Given that microgreens are easy to grow at home, they’re an especially cost-effective way to boost nutrient intake without having to purchase large quantities of vegetables.
Wheatgrass is an excellent source of chlorophyll, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. It also contains 98 of 102 elements found in soil, including phosphorus, calcium, iron, magnesium, and potassium as well as essential enzymes and 12 amino acids. Wheatgrass is made up of 70 percent chlorophyll. Just one shot of wheatgrass juice will provide you with the vitamins and minerals of 1kg of leafy green vegetables! Eating vegetables is linked to a lower risk of many diseases. This is likely thanks to the high amounts of vitamins, minerals and beneficial plant compounds they contain.
Ireland’s organic farm and garden specialists