CANNONSBURG Nutrition and health are of utmost importance to Dave Mayhew.
“My son, C.D. Mayhew, is a fitness trainer in Tampa. He was an athlete in high school and he got us interested in improving our health,” said Mayhew, who suffers with digestive problems.
Those are the issues that led Mayhew to grow microgreens.
The 59-year-old gardener said he has a variety of vegetables growing in a greenhouse — confetti mix, daikon radish, Rambo radish, large-leaf basil, red cabbage and others.
Mayhew said he harvests the first or second leaves that sprout on the vegetable; while similar to “baby” greens, they are even younger, sweeter and more tender than baby greens.
Perhaps most importantly, though, they are more nutritious.
“They contain four to 40 times the nutrients and antioxidants than the mature vegetable,” he said, noting nutrition is of extreme importance during the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s no better time than now to have a lot of nutrients in your system,” he said, as nutritious food is the key to boosting immunity. He said eating just a quarter cup of microgreens provides all the nutrients needed for the day, plus they’re easier to digest and have a mild taste.
The most common way to use microgreens is to add them to a salad, but Mayhew said they can be used as a pizza topping and on sandwiches.
Boyd County Extension Agent for Horticulture Lori Bowling has been working with Mayhew to improve his crops. She said she has seen microgreens grow in a variety of settings.
“You can grow them outside when the weather is warm, in containers in your kitchen window, in deli food carryout dishes, all kinds of makeshift containers because you’re only going to grow what you call the first leaves,” she said. “It also depends on which vegetable you’re growing as to what stage you’ll harvest.”
She said some seeds are better than others to use for microgreens.
“Look at your seed catalog and packets to see if they’re good for microgreen usage,” she said. “And look to see if they’ve been treated with anything. You don’t want any fungicides or things like that.”
These greens are an unusual way to view your eats, but a good idea.
“Many of these you wouldn’t think would be included in a salad,” Bowling said. “A lot of people don’t think about eating little radish greens, but you use the leaves and the stems, just cutting it off with shears.”
After the greens are harvested, the remaining vegetable will die because it can’t photosynthesize without the leaves, she said. Microgreens also have a quick turnaround, depending on conditions. She said you can harvest fresh greens every 13 to 15 days.
She said she thinks microgreens likely have a shorter shelf life, but otherwise are a great idea.
“I think it has a good future with sales to more upscale restaurants in the Ashland area,” she said. “Restaurants that make their food fresh. …If they would start adding microgreens to their salads, I think people would love it.”
Mayhew, a member of the Boyd County Farmers Market, said his products are also a part of Appalachian Proud and Kentucky Proud. He said he regularly sells his chemical-free microgreens to Christopher’s Eats, The 21 Club, Le Bistro and La Famiglia in Huntington, as well as The Winchester in Ashland, the Fairview School System and Paul G. Blazer High School.
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