Since the beginning of Cat Faeries time I’ve always promoted “Healthy and Pretty things for cats and the people who love them.” In so many instances an idea, substance or a practice that’s good for you is also good for your cat. Giving a food to your cat the same meal as yours is a huge time saver which boosts the health of both of you. A few weeks ago, our lead article was about pumpkin seeds as a great de-wormer and anti parasitic which benefit both species. This week we teach you about micro greens which you can grow yourself right on your kitchen countertop or a shelving unit, a bedroom dresser and if you have the space you can devote a room to a mini-microgreens farm! Ours is in the garage.
Why Microgreens? NASA Grows Them in Space Stations!
Microgreens have 9 to 30 times (depends on the report that you read) the nutrients as their fully grown and matured counterparts. How’s that for impressive! If people grew and then ate one cup of microgreens a day and their cats got ¼ cup a day health and vitality would be overflowing and you would not be wrestling with big heads of lettuce or broccoli in your refrigerator. Your food bill will go away down. The desire for plastic bags to store vegetables in will completely go away – you’ll snip as needed.
When you grow your own you know everything detail about your food. You know what kind of water was used, you know that the seeds were organic/GMO-free, you know that the growing medium was clean and pristine, you know that your food did not come in contact with pesticides, herbicides, or other toxins, you know that there were zero labor abuses involved, and you get to have fun! You get to watch them germinate, watch them grow, visit with them every day which they love and respond to!
Iggy the cat taking a snooze under the LED lights and with the microgreens at a small farm. Cats and plants love LED lights!
The Best Microgreens for Cats:
We spoke with our longtime friend and wholistic veterinarian Dr. Cheryl Schwartz about which micro greens are suited for a cat and which are not well suited. She tells us how they benefit the bodies of your cat and you.
Cheryl tells us “Most micro greens are safe and good for cats and are known for immune system balancing. Stay away from cabbages and radishes which are not well suited for cats as they are gassy or the flavor is too spicy and too strong.”
- Broccoli is helpful to clean the liver and blood, good for lungs
- Fenugreek is old ancient Ayurvedic herb Diabetes because it stabilizes blood sugar
- Kale is helpful to clean liver and blood
- Lettuces of all kinds are cooling to the system
- Pak Choy is cooling
- Pea shoots builds muscle in cats of any age or state of health
- Perilla/Red Shiso is for the lungs
- Sunflower shoots* builds muscle in cats of any age or state of health
* Sunflower seeds require pre-soaking in water but it’s easy!
Where to Grow:
The indoor possibilities are endless. You need a flat surface where they won’t be disturbed. You need a dark area for the “black out phase” when the seeds are germinating. And you need to install an overhead LED grow light for each shelf.
Growing Mediums and Other Supplies:
Seeds! There are so many and it’s really fun and exciting to experiment. Organic – always! Non-GMO – always!
- Coir (pronounced “core”) is from coconut hulls. You’ll find it in large bags which is the most economical. You’ll find it in discs which you add water to, but they are pricey.
- Hemp mats – people love them.
- Potting soil – many love it
- Backyard dirt – don’t use it – you’ll get weeds and it’s not the most favorable to indoor growing.
All of these mediums are compostable!
You’ll need LED grow lights which you can suspend on a metal baker’s shelving unit (which is the most recommended) or which you can somehow suspend over the tabletop or countertop you are using.
You’ll akso need a spray bottle for your SEA90 mineralized water plus a ceramic scissor or knife, scissors or paring knife with a round tip to harvest your greens.
Sunflower greens outgrowing their humidity dome! The dome is from from Bootstrap.
Kohlrabi microgreens in their self-watering tray from True Leaf. These small trays are perfect for beginners!
Time to Harvest
Use your harvested microgreens right away for best flavor and the most vitality or life force in the greens. If you cut off too much don’t worry – place them between damp paper towels, place that on a plate and pop into the fridge. Try to eat/use that day.
For your cat: Snip just above the soil medium with ceramic scissors or a ceramic knife, or a sharp knife that has a rounded tip to prevent damage to the greens you aren’t cutting off. Rinse, mince and stir them into homemade cat food or canned cat food. Some cats might eat them without mixing them into food. Cats should not graze out of the trays because the roots are not deep and they’ll make a huge mess.
Harvest for you: with the same clean scissors that you use just for your microgreens cut off as much as you like, usually an inch or two per person. There is no need to rinse. We prefer them in their raw state as toppers for pizza, egg-based dishes, baked or roasted potatoes, in salads, on top of cooked or raw vegetable dishes, on top of meats or poultry. They are great in a wrap or in a sandwich. Minced they make a wonderful addition to a chopped nut filling for a pitted date. You could even chop them and put them in bread or cookie batter then bake however we prefer them raw. They look beautiful when not minced and left whole, then artfully placed upon slices of cheese or vegan cheeze, charcuterie, fruit slices. Since they are so colorful you can really let your kitchen-creativity shine!
Toss your spent growing medium pads into the compost bin to begin the cycle of life again!
“Snip, Rinse, Mince”
Once the darlings are grown, and believe me they are darling, which is just a few inches tall (see photos) preparing them is easy. Snip some off. Give them a quick rinse under filtered water, and mince. For cats mincing is ideal for you to incorporate into their food. For you either leave them long/whole or mince which would depend upon how you are going to eat them. Mincing is a sneaky way to get them into a cat, a child, or a vegetable hating grown up. I put them along the outer edges of Uncle Cat Faeries oatmeal (one of those vegetable hating grownups) and I’ve even seen him take his first mouthful loaded with them!
- Snip – ideally ceramic scissors or a knife are best to prevent oxidation along the line where you cut. If you don’t have one use a sharp paring knife or your kitchen scissors.
- Rinse – Ours are grown in the garage so we rinse off any dust. If you are growing in the house rinsing may not be necessary
- Mince – For cats, children and finicky adults mincing is great because the greens can be stirred into many foods, placed in sandwiches. Just keep them raw, don’t stir them into hot food instead place them around the food.
Cats can freely graze on wheat grass / cat grass because the root systems are long and complex. Microgreens have simple humble roots and a cat would create a huge mess if allowed to graze. Snipping and mincing is best.
Your local hydroponics store should have everything you need, but if you don’t have one here are some online sources:
- Bootstrap Farmer: trays, lights, growing mediums and much more
- True Leaf Market: trays lights, and seeds and much more
- Boogie Brew (Josh: 707-992-05172): for SEA90 which is indispensable for your growing water. It’s loaded with minerals which will, as Josh the owner says, “Make your plants dance!” Your crops will be very robust!
We HIGHLY recommend that review all websites and then call with questions. It’s a bit confusing in the beginning.
How to videos:
I admit that there is a bit of a learning curve and you need to get your own system down – examples: it’s easy to overwater, hard to figure out how much seed to use, and mold can be a problem. I have found that some seeds don’t do well in my climate and but that others thrive. Experiment! You Tube videos are your friend!
Why are they the food of future?
With our waters being wantonly poisoned, weather crisis with flooding and extreme heat and fires are eroding top soil and destroying farm lands and habitats, soils that are being sprayed with poison killing its life force and its microbes and nutrients, factory farming practices that pollute, poison and abuse the animals raised there, food that is raised only with profit in mind rather than our health or the health of our planet means that growing microgreens at home is a great idea. Too many people are eating food that is dead, processed in laboratories, manipulated to taste good. While you might love these foods, they do not love you back. We should really only trust food that was raised or grown with love, compassion, integrity and with healthful farming practices. This circles back to the benefits we’ve described about YOU growing some of your own food. Growing microgreens allows US to control the quality of the soil/growing medium, the water used, and the seeds we buy, and we can do this indoors in little space. You don’t need land or a garden. I love that it’s vertical on shelves and that I can stand up straight and tall to face my little microgreens farm with no back or knee aches and minimal water usage and maximum nutrition.
Has this idea sparked something within you? A new career awaits!
If this article has sparked something inside of you, and after you work out the bugs and quirks consider is growing microgreens for profit. You’ll find plenty of You Tube videos that talk about how to set up, what the start-up costs are, how and where to sell, and possible profits to be made! I’ve read that a person can make $100,000 to $200,000 annually selling to restaurants and at farmer’s markets! It takes motivation and networking if you are willing. The old article for Tiger Tribe that I wrote about wheat grass/cat grass in 1993 lead to a lot of plagiarizing by thieves (curse you!) but what makes me very happy is that it also led to many start up home businesses of wheat grass/cat grass.