You may know clover as a cover crop or ground cover. Maybe you even have early memories of searching through clover patches for that lucky, four-leaf token. What you probably didn’t know though is that clover can be edible! Clover microgreens are a fun and safe way to add some flavoring, nutrients, and luck to your life.
Clover microgreens are a lovely light green and have a fresh, mild sweetness. They’re very similar to alfalfa sprouts, but with plump, crunchy cotyledons. Also unlike alfalfa sprouts, they don’t hang onto their seed hulls, which means less work for you! In fact, these microgreens are hardly any work at all. They sprout up easily and are ready to harvest in under 12 days. Clover microgreens also have excellent health benefits, especially for women. They help balance hormones, ease PMS symptoms, and even reduce hot flashes during menopause. This plant will also treat a sore throat, provide vitamins like potassium and calcium, and improve digestive, skin, and prostate health. However, clover isn’t FDA certified and shouldn’t be consumed by anyone that’s pregnant or breastfeeding.
Clover isn’t usually eaten by humans because it sometimes produces cyanide in its mature leaves. Cyanogenesis is actually a very common defense mechanism in plants (it’s found in over 3000 species!). The good news though is that clover microgreens don’t contain any cyanide and are one of the few safe ways to eat clover. We harvest microgreens way before they have a chance to grow true leaves and begin their chemistry experiments. The only green leaves included in clover microgreens are the cotyledons, which aren’t true leaves and don’t contain anything harmful.
So if you’re ready to start growing microgreens that taste great and grow quickly, let’s get started on clover microgreens. You’ll be enjoying this fresh snack before you can say ‘Trifolium’!
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Growing Clover Microgreens
Clover microgreens grow just like most other microgreens, with the exception of their soil. So, you’ll be able to reuse most of these materials in future gardening projects.
- Seeds: choose organic red clover seeds (or any other clover species). We recommend the ones from True Leaf Market.
- Growing medium: coconut coir
- Light: use a T5 grow light for best results
- Growing trays: one 10″x20″ or two 10″x10″ with drainage holes, and one 10″x20″ without
- Spray bottle
- Kitchen shears
We’re big fans of the microgreens seeds that True Leaf Market produces. You can find a couple of our favorites here:
The most popular organic clover species out there are red clover and white clover (both have green leaves, the color name refers to their flowers). Most species are extremely similar at the microgreen stage though, so whatever seeds you choose are fine! Just be sure to choose healthy microgreen seeds from a reputable seller. You’ll need about an ounce of microgreens seeds per 10×20 tray.
Clover microgreens prefer to grow in a soilless medium. The most popular choice is coconut coir. This organic medium holds water well while also maintaining good drainage. You can also use fine-grained vermiculite or a hemp-growing mat. In a pinch, though, you can grow clover microgreen in organic seed-starting soil.
These microgreens seeds don’t need to be soaked before planting. They should have a high germination rate and healthy sprouts without extra help.
As mentioned earlier, clover microgreen seeds prefer a hydroponic medium like coconut coir or vermiculite for sprouting. Using the tray with drainage holes, fill it to just below the brim with your choice of soil. Smooth out the soil surface and tamp it down. Then, sprinkle your microgreens seeds all across the surface. Ensure that the seeds aren’t overlapping (we don’t want the sprouts fighting for space!).
Give the seeds and soil a spray of water, then grab the tray without drainage holes. Set it directly on top of the seeds so they’re in the dark (this will help the seeds germinate and sprout). To encourage your clover sprouts to grow strong and even, place a small weight on top of the cover.
Red clover seeds need 2-3 days to complete the germination process and continue sprouting. During this time, and for a few extra days, keep the cover on. When the red clover seedlings have sprouted and are ready for some light, they’ll push up the tray and weight (this encourages the sprouts to grow strong roots). Since the germination time is clearly over, remove the cover tray and move on to the next gardening step.
After 3-5 days in the dark, your sprouted clover microgreen crop will be happy to get some light. Position your grow light a foot or two above the grow tray and switch it on for at least 12 hours a day. Your previously pale microgreens will turn light green from chlorophyll production and continue sprouting upwards.
Since hydroponic soil mediums are so absorbent, you probably won’t have to water again. If you do end up with dry soil though, you’ll need to water from the bottom. This method keeps all above-ground growth dry and disease-free.
To bottom water, reuse the holeless tray you used as a cover. Fill it with a couple of inches of water and set the grow tray inside it. The soil will become adequately moist in 10-20 minutes, after which you should remove the tray.
One of the many great things about microgreen gardening is you don’t have to use any fertilizer or soil additives. Your sprouts will get all the nutrition they need from the seeds.
In just 8-12 days from planting, you can start harvesting clover microgreens. You shouldn’t go off the timeline alone though – each clover microgreen will show signs of being ripe for the picking. If you’re sprouting multiple crops, you might have one micro garden ready before the other trays.
Generally, a clover microgreen will be around 2 inches tall when it’s ready to harvest. Its cotyledons will have completely emerged from the seeds and opened. But, the garden microgreens won’t be sprouting true leaves yet. If your clover microgreens crop had a high germination rate and steady growth, you should have a little forest of cotyledons in each tray.
Use kitchen shears or a sharp knife to harvest the plants in bunches. You can stagger this over a couple of days, but be sure that they’re all harvested before the true leaves grow in. As the plant ages, it will quickly get bitter and lose its sweet, mild flavor.
Rinse your newly harvested microgreens in cool water before eating them. You can use red clover sprouts as a healthy garnish in salads and sandwiches (they’re a great substitute for lettuce).
If you have leftovers, dry off any excess water and wrap the garden sprouts in a paper towel. Place the bundle in a sealed bag in the fridge, where it’ll last up to a week. To optimize this makeshift food storage method, change out the paper towels every few days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you eat red clover microgreens?
A: Absolutely! Red clover sprouts have a deliciously mild flavor and abundant vitamins.
Q: What is clover microgreens?
A: They’re simply clover plants harvested just after the sprouting stage. Each plant is grown for its cotyledons, the leaves that emerge directly from the seeds, which have numerous health benefits. As far as taste goes, these sprouts are very similar to alfalfa microgreens.
Q: Are clover microgreens healthy?
A: Yes! While there isn’t much quantitative nutritional data available, clover microgreens are known for balancing hormones, decreasing inflammation, and improving digestive health. Microgreens generally have more nutrients than their mature counterparts because they get their nutrition from the seed instead of the soil.