MALAGA — Tanya Mahre plants her microgreen seeds with precision: She starts in the corners of the tray, then works down the edges, and then to the middle.
In just nine days, these radish seeds will grow to be several inches tall and will be ready to sell at the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market.
Mahre and her husband Terry just started Gourmet Hydro Greens, a small startup that focuses on herbs and microgreens, a variety of small edible plants commonly used as garnishes or in salads.
Mahre first learned about microgreens after a doctor’s visit, she said.
“In February, I did some blood tests and I went, ‘I’m low on Vitamin D, my iron is getting low. I want to not just take pills, I want to eat healthy,’” she said. “... So I started researching healthy eating and all these things popped up about microgreens and I said, ‘Oh!’”
Then Mahre’s husband surprised her with growing lights and racks to hold the plants for their anniversary in March, she said.
“I told him, ‘I’m thinking about experimenting and trying out these microgreens and introducing them in our diet.’ He said OK and then he surprised me,” she said.
After a while, Mahre decided to spread the message and got a spot in the farmers market. The couple sold $300 worth of the plants during their first market on Saturday, she said.
They live in Quincy, work in Ellensburg and grow the plants in a friend’s Malaga greenhouse, so there’s already been a lot of time committed to the project, she said.
“We try to come every day now that the weather is warming up because we need to water,” she said. “When it gets really hot you need to water twice a day, but I’d like to get a drip setup.”
Eventually Mahre would like to use hydroponics, a method that uses nutrient-rich water instead of soil to grow the plants, she said.
“My goal is to get into more of a hydro setup, but I have to start at the base and work my way up,” she said.
For now, she’s focused on perfecting the growing process of each of her plant varieties, she said. The couple has more than a dozen species, including pea shoots, radish and mini chives.
Along with expanding the growing operation, they’d also like to expand distribution by breaking into the culinary world and offering microgreens to local chefs, Mahre said.
“I love to watch the Food Network. I see how they use really neat things and (microgreens) are part of it,” she said. “... I’m so fascinated with chefs, I think that’s where my heart is.”