Small Growing Microgreens Instruction

How To Grow Microgreens Instruction Manual

Mold image

Microgreens, Mold & More

Microgreens, Mold & More

Microgreens love warmth and moisture; unfortunately so does mold. Whenever you have any growth medium holding water in a warm & humid environment, you risk the chance of also growing mold … but there are many tips & tricks to reduce the occurrence of mold on your grow mats.

 

Where does mold come from? 

Mold grows on microgreens, just like mold grows in any other environment. Mold requires moisture, warmth, lack of air flow, and bacteria to flourish and grow. 

 

Does mold affect microgreens?

Yes. If there is mold on your microgreens, they will not be safe to eat even though they may continue to grow as per usual. Discard your moldy crop and your growing medium as the mold spores will live on and very likely affect your next crop. 

 

 

How do I prevent mold on microgreens?

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to help prevent mold from forming on your crop:

 

Cleanliness

Before you start growing, soaking your seeds or preparing your trays – it is very important to clean and sanitize all your equipment & seeds    thoroughly. 

 

Trays – hot, soapy water will do the trick but to take it one step further, you may choose to use white vinegar or food grade hydrogen peroxide. Either choice should be used very sparingly (about 3% solution with water). Bleach is not recommended but some do use it. 

 

Seeds – seeds are a common source of mold contamination and they should be thoroughly cleaned & rinsed before growing. Soak your seeds as per package recommendations and add a teaspoon of food grade hydrogen peroxide. Rinse several times when done soaking then proceed with sowing (ensuring to not sow seeds to close together! Follow seed density recommendations). 

 

Light and Warmth

Mold loves warm & dark not bright & light. You will be starting germination of your crop in the dark; however as soon as germination has occurred you should move your plants into the warm light. If a warm spot in direct sunlight isn’t an option, then use a full spectrum grow light.

 

Proper Air Flow

It is essential to ensure proper ventilation during each step of your grow. Mold doesn’t like moving air, it likes stagnant air. Stagnant air allows mold to multiply and breed; whereas moving air doesn’t allow the bacteria to settle. When you’re starting your seeds, they are generally in the dark and/or covered with a humidity dome – this is a time of high mold risk due to little air flow and dark, damp conditions. Simple fix! Add a couple of ventilation holes to the side of your humidity dome and/or tray and then place a small fan in the area. 

 

Control the Humidity 

Your microgreen crop needs water to survive, in fact moisture in the growing medium is essential. But darn it, mold loves this moisture too! Invest in a dehumidifier to remove humidity from the air (but make sure your grow tray is well saturated).

 

I’ve heard root hairs are not mold, what is the difference between root hairs & mold?

Root hairs. Most crops have hairs that form part of the root. These fuzzy little hairs stick out from only the root – this is key difference in determining mold or root hair – and allow your seeds to absorb additional water. 

Mold. Mold often looks like a spider-web spreading all over your crop (not just the root, but everywhere). Mold may also be slimy … it is just gross overall. In rare instances, you may see black mold or other colours. 

 

I’ve got mold starting, now what do I do? 

There are a few things you can do:

  1. Carefully remove the moldy plant or affected part of the tray. This should remove the problem area and may prevent any more mold from spreading. Unfortunately, mold is not easy to see, especially when just starting to grow, so this may not fix the issue. 
  2. Make a spray bottle with a mixture of water, white vinegar and/or hydrogen peroxide. The ratio should not be more than 80/20 (any stronger and you’ll burn the leaves) and spray this all over your crop. It should kill the mold without harming your crop. 
  3. Direct sunlight.  There is nothing better than a hot, sunny day to kill mold. But remember, the drying effect of the sunlight will also quickly dry out your growth medium. Keep your tray well watered and keep a close eye on your crop.

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Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance Conference & Trade-Show

Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance Conference & Trade-Show

Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance Conference & Trade-Show

BioComposites was a proud participant at the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance Conference & Trade-Show Nov 25-28, 2019.

Our booth was abuzz with interest & inquiries about our hemp processing facility in Drayton Valley, Alberta. Dan Madlung, President & CEO, presented to the 400 delegates on how we can all work together for Rural Revitalization.

Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance Conference & Trade-Show

Infographic Source: Aaron Cadena

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Dan Madlung Open House

BCG Hosted Open House in Drayton Valley

BCG Hosted Open House in Drayton Valley

BioComposites Group (BCG) hosted an Open House on June 20, 2019 in Drayton Valley, Alberta. BCG was celebrating the completion of an expansion, to become the largest and most advanced hemp processing facility in North America.

Infographic Source: Aaron Cadena

The event was hosted by Larry Perko, Vice President of BioComposites Group. Guest speakers included:

  • Michael Doerksen – Mayor of Drayton Valley
  • Steve Price – Executive Director, BioIndustrial Innovation at Alberta Innovates
  • Lori Jo Graham – Acting Manager, Biomaterials at Alberta Agriculture and Forestry
  • Dan Madlung – President and CEO of BioComposites Group
  • Gerald Soroka – Mayor of Yellowhead County and Federal Conservative Candidate
  • Mark Smith – MLA for Drayton Valley/Devon

 BioComposites Group manufactures TerrafibreTM products for the greenhouse/horticulture, home gardening, and green building materials industries. All products are produced with industrial hemp and are fully sustainable and recyclable at the end of their life cycles.

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Hemp Facts. What is Industrial Hemp? How hemp can change the world.

What is Industrial Hemp?

What is Industrial Hemp?

The hemp industry has had a fairly negative stigma attached to it for many years. However, it isn’t until recently that there has been a large societal shift towards understanding the many uses of the hemp plant. 

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.

Infographic Source: Aaron Cadena

What is industrial hemp?

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.

Production includes the cultivation, propagation or harvesting of industrial hemp.

Production consists of obtaining industrial hemp by any method or process, including manufacturing, or by any means to modify the chemical or physical properties of industrial hemp. It also includes growing, spreading and harvesting industrial hemp.

Fibres

Hemp fibres are the most important raw material of useful hemp, both in terms of quantity and abundance of applications. 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, ropes 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. In 1870 Bayer Levi Strauss made the first hemp jeans in the USA. Today, they mainly play a crucial role in the production of hemp paper (special papers, especially cigarette paper), hemp textiles (clothing, technical textiles), natural insulating materials and as reinforcing fibres for natural fibre-reinforced plastics.

Hemp oil

Hemp oil is pressed from the cannabis seeds, which are used both unpeeled and peeled. The thin shell contains chlorophyll so that the oil from unpeeled seeds has a green colour. Oil from shelled hemp seeds contains fewer colorants, bitter substances and has a nutty flavour. Hemp oil is used primarily as a food in the form of salad oil and has some high-quality ingredients such as essential fatty acids.

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Maximum Yield Hemp Grow Products - grow hydroponically

As seen in Maximum Yield: Growing from Hemp

As seen in Maximum Yield: Growing from Hemp

Hemp has been grown and used for multiple products and purposes for centuries. The industrial hemp plant can be used in the production of paper, textiles, building & construction materials, biofuel, food, organic body care, clothing, plastic composites and more. Canada is a world leader in the production of food and oils from hemp seeds.  However, currently the wasted stems represent an opportunity to create a new industry for rural communities. A Canadian manufacturing company, BioComposites Group Inc. (BCG), is on the forefront of creating this new hemp fibre industry.

Maximum Yield Hemp Grow Products - grow hydroponically

BCG is an Alberta based manufacturing company located in Drayton Valley, Alberta. BCG’s  owners, Dan and Brenda Madlung, pride themselves in building a Company and industry based on developing and commercializing innovative products that exploit the extraordinary mechanical qualities of the industrial hemp plant. “By producing and selling products to end users, we have an opportunity to develop the entire value chain which will benefit rural communities with jobs and wealth creation. We can do this while utiltizing a waste product and benefiting the environment through carbon capture.”

BCG acknowledge the social and environmental shift amongst consumers, as they are starting to purchase products that not only work, but have environmental considerations and sustainability at the top of mind. A recent study found 54% of people will choose environmentally friendly products over a conventional one, allowing BCG to work alongside their consumers to have a positive environmental impact. “Socially we can create jobs and wealth in rural communities, many who are negatively affected by the current downturn in the oil patch.”

An example of BCG’s commercialization efforts is in the growth media vertical. Through innovative processing, BCG is able to upcycle the fibres to create a truly sustainable growing media. Their Terrafibre products are 100% biodegradable, sustainably and Canadian made, while also providing superior performance. Designed as a natural alternative to rockwool, peat moss and coconut coir, the Terrafibre Growing Media is made from 100% Canadian grown hemp fibres.

Terrafibre Hemp Growing Cubes

Designed for any seed from tomatoes to lettuce to cannabis, the Terrafibre Hemp Growing Cubes are the perfect all-natural growing media for transplanting cuttings or starting seeds. Terrafibre Hemp Growing Cubes combine two parts of the industrial hemp plant; Bast Fibres and Hurd with a plant based binding agent. These two components combined provide an ideal growing environment for all seedlings. Bast fibres are high in water holding capacity and provide the strength for roots to attach to. Hurd is the larger “woody” fibres that increase air porosity in the cube.

Hemp Grow Medium for hydroponic farming - lettuce

Terrafibre Hemp Growing Cubes are completely biodegradable and compostable. Hemp fibre, because of its high lignin and cellulose content takes a long time (1-2 years) to break down completely. This allows for the ideal properties as a growth medium with the added benefit of composting. This allows it to be added to garden soil to help break up clay soils and increase water absorption.

BioComposites Group have recently released the 1.5” and 2” cubes and are releasing their complimentary 4” block, slab, and loose fill. BCG will provide a complete growing system from a local source, that can still provide the yields people expect while eliminating disposal issues. Not only do the end users benefit but so does the complete value chain including the farmer and rural communities.

Biodegradable Hemp Grow Medium for Greenhouses

Terrafibre Hemp Grow Mat

Terrafibre Grow Mats are comprised of only hemp fibre and a  natural backing. Ideal for microgreens, sprouts, wheatgrass and other short rotation crops, The Terrafibre Hemp Grow Mats provide a cleaner and easier production method than traditional soil growing. Industrial hemp fibres are separated, cleaned and needle punched to produce a 100% biodegradable soilless growing medium. Fibres are separated through a decortication process without the use of any chemicals and our production technique creates a light texture for roots to easily grow into. Hemp fibres have high water retention, keeping seeds wet through germination.

With a variety of different sizes such as 5” x 5”, 10” x 20” and 10” x 120’ rolls, the Terrafibre Hemp Grow Mat is designed to be less labour intensive than using soil. The clean and easy mat helps eradicate mess and allows growers to either sell their microgreens live on the mat, or harvest dirt-free.

Future Of Hemp Fibre Industry

Alberta has been a leader in the development of the hemp fibre industry. It has assisted in the development of companies like BCG. With the recent changes in hemp regulations in Canada and the US, the industry is poised for major growth. The introduction of CBD’s has the potential to create even greater volumes of waste stems. Developing a new industry will take a cooperative effort of farmers, entrepreneurs, all levels of Government, financial institutions and investors.  BCG is proud of its role in developing this new industry and looks forward to a positive future.

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From Agriculture to Clothing: The Diverse World of Hemp Products

From Agriculture to Clothing: The Diverse World of Hemp Products

Hemp is one of the most highly useful, agricultural produce in the world.

Before we go any further, though, now might be a good time to draw a line between hemp and cannabis – as we know them today. While cannabis is the strain that causes a high in users (due to the high concentrations of THC), hemp does not.

Now that we have that cleared, how important are hemp products?

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Nutrition – Hemp seeds

Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious substances on the planet. For every hemp seed you see, that is a tiny block containing all of:

  1. The nine essential amino acids
  2. Unsaturated fats which holds many health benefits
  3. Fibre, and
  4. Minerals and vitamins (magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, etc.)

Housing – Hempcrete

Up to 70% of the entire cannabis plant is made of a woody internal core. The plant, during growth and development, leaches silica from the soil. In combination with slaked lime, they form a chemical bond like what you would get in cement – hence the name hempcrete. It is favored for housing construction since it is fire and water proof.

Clothing – Hemp fibre

Since hemp is a highly fibrous plant, it has been embraced in the clothing industry for long. Early applications were for the making of ship sail canvasses, ropes, sacks, carpets and related items. However, the use of the hemp fibre in clothing was soon to die off. Fortunately, this application was rediscovered in the 1980s. After its resurgence, hemp clothing is now more commonplace than before.

Paper – Hemp fibre

The same thing that makes hemp suitable for clothing is what makes it a great pick for the paper manufacturing industry. Coming with a cellulose content of about 70%, there is no question as to the viability of the hemp fibre in the manufacture of paper on the large scale.

Fuel – Hemp oil, seeds and stalk

One of the most impressive use of hemp products is in the generation of biofuels. It is even more impressive in the fact that this can be done in more ways than one. On the one hand, biodiesel can be generated form the oils in the hemp seeds and stalk. Speaking of stalks, biofuels can also be made from the fibrous stalks in the plant system.

Plastic/ Composite Materials – Hemp fibre

Besides paper and clothing, hemp fibre also finds application in the manufacture of plastic and other composite materials. The basic hemp fibre is often used in combination with fiberglass, kenaf and flax to create strong composite panels. Such panels have been in use since around 2002, finding wide application in automobiles (Audi, Mercedes, Ford, GM, Honda, Saturn, Porsche, etc.).

Jewelry – Hemp twine

This might sound a little farfetched, but hemp jewelry is an actual thing. The hemp jewelry is a result of knots made with the twines of the plants, embracing different types of knotting styles to create unique designs. The most common knotting techniques are the half and full knot switches – and they can be applied to make bracelets, anklets, rings, watches, and so on.

 

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Microgreens and Sprouts: why these micro vegetables have been added to the super food diet

Microgreens and Sprouts: why these micro vegetables have been added to the super food diet

In the quest for better living, science has come across a lot of healthy food options via research. Perhaps one of the most interesting of the bunch are microgreens and sprouts.

While they might look like just any other forms of vegetable to you, only smaller, they pack quite a punch when it comes to the nutritional benefits they bring on board. 

What are microgreens?

Microgreens simply refer to a class of vegetables which are harvested shortly after they begin to sprout. They are not the same as baby greens (microgreens are even smaller than those) but they are a little more developed than sprouts, depending on when they are harvested.

Note that not all vegetables can be harvested as microgreens. However, there are a whole lot of them, such as; Beets, Kale, Cilantro, Wheatgrass, Basil, Amaranth, Broccoli, Arugula and Radish, to mention but a few.

What’s the fuss all about?

You might be wondering why many people are turning to microgreens and sprouts all of a sudden. If you knew about just some of their benefits, maybe you would too:

High nutritional value – Scientific study on microgreens might be limited, but that has not limited some body of research from concluding that they contain a higher concentration of many nutrients. This is in comparison with the full-grown herbs of the same species.

Presence of polyphenols – Polyphenols are a component of vegetables with powerful antioxidant properties. In other words, they aid in releasing toxic free radicals from the body before it builds up and causes harm. While fully matured vegetables also contain polyphenols, microgreens and sprouts contain a wider variety of these same substances.

Improvement of heart health – A recent study saw rats fed with red cabbage microgreens had. This in addition to a high-fat diet the rats were on which should have normally caused numerous issues for their hearts. On the contrary, the microgreens cut the risk of weight gain by 17%, adding an extra 34% reduction in the build-up of bad cholesterol for good measure.

Less risk of chronic diseases – A lot of studies have been done to find a correlation between a rich vegetable diet and less chances of chronic ailments (such as several types of cancer). These researches did find a significant reduction between a high vegetable nutrient intake and lower risk of chronic diseases. Given that microgreens come with a denser nutrient profile than their more mature counterparts, it is only logical that they help ward off these chronic diseases better.

Now that you know how great microgreens and sprouts are, it is time to start incorporating them into your diet. Besides the convenience that comes with growing them yourself, they are also available all year round. 

That way, you are never at a shortage of your favourite, immunity-boosting friends.

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The History of Hemp Cultivation in Canada

The History of Hemp Cultivation in Canada

Hemp was widespread in Canada and the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. The robust fibre of this plant was used for the production of ropes, clothes and even parachutes. 

But in 1938, the cultivation of the plant was prohibited, along with the Indian hemp. Hemp followed the negative stigma of marijuana and became illegal. With the ban, the hemp industry collapsed for the first time.

In 1998, Ottawa agreed to distinguish between industrial hemp and marijuana. Because of this, the hemp plant can now be cultivated again freely. Since then Hemp has taken a slow but steady race to banish all negative connotations surrounding the ingredients and use of the plants. It hasn’t been until the recent legalisation of marijuana that hemp has been given the fair reputation it deserves.

René Saquet was one of the pioneers of hemp cultivation in the West. This plant is so little known that some people still confused it with marijuana. Producers like him were hoping, at the time, that the hemp fibre market would develop again in Canada. 

At the same time, René Saquet and others are also agreeing with an Ontario contractor. He wants to manufacture, among other things, beauty products and vegetable oil from hemp seed. The dream of reviving the hemp trade is taking shape. The deal he made with the Ontario Company goes out of business, and the long-awaited trade in hemp fiber is never created. Without an outlet for his harvest, he sells his seeds at a loss, to the highest bidder. He abandons hemp cultivation after only three years of testing. 

About a hundred kilometers to the north, Art Potoroka is also engaged in the production of hemp, but with a group of 200 farmers who do business with a company from California. 

He cultivates 140 hectares of hemp, produces hundreds of kilograms of seeds and more than 500 bales of straw. But the Californian Company, in financial difficulty, never comes looking for the product. To date, hundreds of straw bales produced in 1999 are still waiting in his fields. 

But Art Potoroka clings to his dream. He tries to join the growers of hemp in his region to find outlets. What he does not know is that at the same time, in Winnipeg, a company is preparing to give a third life to the hemp trade. 

Mike Fata is a businessman who discovered hemp by chance. But rather than bet on fiber, he is interested in the nutritional qualities of the plant! Hemp is a significant source of omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9, essential fats for the human body.

This is where the fate of Art Potoroka and Mike Fata comes together: the first has surplus hemp seeds in his silos; the other dreams of making food. 

Art Potoroka agrees to produce hemp in the coming years for Mike Fata and his partners. Their company, Manitoba Harvest, is developing hemp oil, flour, and butter, for example.

Then it’s marketing and sales are increasing. But the expenses, too, because Manitoba Harvest invests in both its plant and the development of new markets. Hemp producers are finally benefiting from the harvest. Hemp is cheaper to produce than conventional crops because it requires little fertilizer and no chemicals.

In 2004, Mike Fata’s perseverance and investment paid off. Sales are skyrocketing in the United States, where hemp production is still illegal. 

That same year, Manitoba Harvest developed a new product that will become by far the best selling product: hemp oil milk, a substitute for cow’s milk. 

The success of hemp foods has an impact on Canadian farms. The number of hectares approved for hemp cultivation fell by more than 90% between 1999 and 2001, after the crack of trade in fiber. It has since regained all the lost ground. In 2006, hemp was allowed on over 19,000 hectares, a record in Canada. As a result, the Canadian Hemp Marketing Association has changed its marketing strategy.

Industrialists can use stem fibers to make papers, fabrics, ropes and strings, and construction materials. The seed can be used for the manufacture of foods, cosmetics, plastics and fuels.

In some countries, industrial hemp has proven to be a hardy, resilient, fast-growing, high-yielding plant. In Canada, industrial hemp has shown promise as a new crop, in rotation with more traditional crops. Its short growing cycle (85 to 120 days) is well suited to many parts of Canada. 

After being banned in the 1930s, and then abandoned in the 1990s, hemp seems to have regained its acclaim in Canadian agriculture. And this time, it takes the path of our plates. 

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