Microgreens, those tiny seedlings of vegetables and herbs, have been gaining ever-increasing popularity in the culinary world. They are often served as mere garnishes or seasoning at fancy restaurants, however, they don’t just add flavor and color to the dishes. According to the research, they hold 4-6 times the beneficial nutrients as their mature plant counterpart.
With all that and the fact that they can be expensive to buy, it makes sense to consider growing your own microgreens. They don’t take up much space and are easy to care for, with a life span so short you’ll be harvesting your own microgreens in no time at all.
Growing microgreens is the latest trend you want to be a part of. Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow microgreens.
Choosing the right containers for growing microgreens indoors
A simple seedling tray is all you need. You could also use smaller well-drained containers like upcycled trays from grapes or strawberries, just remember to have holes at the bottom for good drainage. An ideal tray is at least 2 inches deep.
The right growing medium for microgreens
With different types of growing mediums available, the preferred medium for microgreens is a seed-raising mix. However, as this mix often doesn’t have enough nutrients, you may have to add blood and bone meal.
If you don’t have a seed-raising mix, you could also use potting mix. Potting soil is proven to have the most consistent yields.
If you are using soil from your outdoor garden, you might have to sterilize it in the oven before growing your microgreens.
What seeds can I choose to grow microgreens?
Microgreens taste different from the fully formed plant, so keep an open mind rather than simply choosing microgreen seeds based on the plants you enjoy. We suggest that you try growing and tasting each of the microgreens in small batches to see how you like the taste.
While choosing seeds, make sure to use organic and untreated seeds.
Based on the availability and affordability of seeds, you can choose amongst these commonly growable microgreen plants:
|arugula||2 – 3 days||5 – 7 days||spicy|
|mustard||3 – 4 days||6 -10 days||spicy|
|beets||3 – 5 days||10 – 20 days||sweet & earthy|
|watercress||5 -7 days||7 – 14 days||intense peppery & hint of sweet|
|lettuce||1 – 2 days||8 – 12 days||fresh & mild|
|basil||2 days||15 -20 days||basil flavor|
|spinach||5 -10 days||10 days||mild|
|amaranth||2 – 3 days||10 days||mild & earthy|
|sunflower||2 – 4 days||8 -14 days||crisp & hearty|
|broccoli||2 – 3 days||7 -14 days||earthy & mild broccoli taste|
|radish||1 – 2 days||5 -10 days||spicy|
|pea shoots||2 -3 days||6 – 14 days||sweet & mild|
Some plants should not be grown as microgreens. Plants in the nightshade family, like tomatoes and peppers, have toxic leaves that should not be eaten.
Fill your chosen container with the growing medium. Only one inch of medium is required to grow micro-greens. Depending on the size of the seeds, sprinkle a few on top (almost a teaspoon full).
Don’t worry about overcrowding the plants. You will harvest them very young, and they won’t need a lot of room to grow. Sprinkle soil above them, just enough to cover the seeds, before watering the tray. Cover the tray to trap moisture. Leave it in a dark and warm place for 3-5 days after germination.
When it starts to grow, put it in a brighter spot. They can be kept in the garden or on your windowsill, depending on where you have space and enough sunlight. If there is not at least 4-6 hours of sunlight, a grow light can be used.
If you are not ready to commit to growing microgreens on a large scale, you could also try them in small batches on paper towels. Soak the seeds overnight and drain the water in the morning. Place 2-3 wet tissue paper layers on a tray and scatter the seeds on top. Use a spray bottle to spray the tray with water twice or thrice a day. You will see sprouts in a few days and microgreens in a few weeks.
Watering and maintenance of your microgreens
Fill a plate with water and keep your containers on top of the plate. When you water the microgreens, add water to the plate, not directly to the container. When the plate looks dry, water it again. It is recommended to water once or twice a day.
Keep an eye on the microgreens to ensure they do not turn yellow and remove any weeds. Keeping a higher humidity level will lead to crisper microgreens.
Harvesting your microgreens
After two weeks, most microgreens are ready to be eaten. When the microgreens have developed the first set of true leaves, they are ready to cut. To harvest, cut the stem just above the soil.
To reuse the growing medium, add some more soil and flip it over so that the remaining roots mix in and enrich the soil.
Now that you have microgreens, what do you do with them?
When incorporating microgreens into your cooking, the possibilities are endless. You can add your microgreens to Buddha bowls, smoothies, or salads. You can try them also on top of pizzas, pasta, soups, curries and stir-fries.
They garnish your food making it look restaurant quality and also adds a nutritional powerhouse to your meal.
Here are a few more practical ideas:
Try sneaking some tasty sunflower microgreens in your kids’ sandwiches, so they eat some greens without even realizing.
A popular method of adding more microgreens and other healthy foods into your diet is through juices and smoothies. With a basic blender or juicer, wheatgrass and broccoli microgreens can be a great boost to any morning smoothie recipe.
You can create a delicious meal or side dish exclusively with microgreens. A salad with a base of arugula microgreens can be added to with an assortment of other microgreens, such as sunflowers, pea shoots, and beets.
If you want to add a spicy taste to your dishes consider using radish microgreens. Other microgreens with a strong flavor are mustard, pea, beet and garden cress.
If you have a sizeable harvest, you could even sell them and make good money. Who knows, it might open doors to your new microgreen business.
Final thoughts on how to grow microgreens at home
Though at first glance they can seem as if they’re only reserved for high-class restaurants and over-expensive health food stores, in no time at all you can be growing and enjoying your very own microgreens. Boost your everyday diet and impress your friends with the fancy presentation of your dishes.
Even if you’ve never grown anything, microgreens could be the perfect introduction to the world of indoor gardening.
How can I grow microgreens without soil?
Apart from the soil, another popular growing medium is coconut coir. You can also use rockwool, coco peat and perlite. If you prefer to grow microgreens hydroponically you can use hemp or coco coir grow mats.
What is the difference between microgreens and sprouts?
Sprouts are the youngest plants that are harvested just a few days after they germinate. Microgreens are a couple of weeks older than sprouts. After microgreens come baby greens. They’re all the same plant but in different stages of growth.
Is it necessary to put my microgreens in the dark?
It is highly recommended to put your microgreens in the dark for the first few days as the stem elongates itself reaching for the light source. Hence, you will have longer and more tender microgreens.
Do microgreens grow again after harvesting?
Once they are cut, most microgreens do not grow again the leaves cut off are used to photosynthesize. If there is at least one leaf left, it will grow again. However, the second harvest tastes different and it is not recommended to grow them again.