Whether you already have an indoor garden or you’re thinking about starting one, microgreens are an excellent choice of plant to grow inside in your home. They’re never going to grow big enough to take up much space and they can easily be grown right in you kitchen for convenient access when cooking and preparing food. Their dainty little stems and leaves are also quite pleasant when it comes to kitchen decor.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are vegetables or herbs that are harvested soon after their first true leaves appear. Microgreens isn’t a term used to define a species of plant but rather a word that describes the growing and harvesting process of the young shoots from various types of edible greens.
These are not to be confused with sprouts, which are harvested in the younger, newly germinated stages. Microgreens are basically just the miniature versions of various different herbs and veggies that have only just begun to grow their leaves.
Why Grow Microgreens?
So, if microgreens are just young vegetables, why not grow them to maturity and get a full grown plant for all your efforts?
Microgreens have a few benefits that full grown plants just can’t provide. Their delicate leaves and stems make an excellent garnish which can add to the presentation of any plate, be it meat, pasta, or a simple sandwich. They also often possess a different and more robust flavor than their adult counterparts.
Microgreens are incredibly quick and easy to grow. They take up very little space, which makes them great friends to keep in the kitchen year round. Once your have the items needed to grow them, they’re inexpensive to maintain and replant as often as needed. Because they are harvested so young and the plant material is still full of all the nutrients it requires to grow, microgreens are packed with way more vitamins, nutrients, and healthy enzymes than their adult forms would contain.
What Can You Grow?
You can grow a wide variety of herbs, lettuces, vegetables, and even edible flowers as microgreens. Some will have more flavor while others will make a better garnish. Because they take up so little space, you can grow a few different types of herbs and vegetables to be sure you have a microgreen for every occasion.
Parsley, cilantro, basil, chives, and dill are great herbs to grow as microgreens. If you’re going for something in the leafy green family, you can try lettuce, spinach, kale, mustard, and chard. Celery, cabbage, broccoli, radishes, and fava beans are excellent vegetables to harvest in their microgreen stages.
You can also grow and harvest sunflower, wheatgrass, buckwheat, chia, and flaxseed as microgreens.
What Do Microgreens Need to Grow?
Like any plant, microgreens need water and sunlight to grow. If you don’t have access to ample sunlight, a small grow light will suffice.
Unlike sprouts, but very much like adult plants, microgreens do require soil. They’ll need a tray to grow in as well but it only needs to be about 3 inches deep because their root system isn’t going to need much grow room. A warming mat can also be used to speed up germination but it’s not required.
Lastly, and mostly importantly, you’ll need the seeds for whichever types of microgreens you plan to grow.
How to Grow Microgreens
Microgreens really aren’t too difficult to grow. You only need to get these guys a few days past their sprouting stage and they’re ready to be harvested. After obtaining the materials required to grow your mini plants you can place some potting soil in your tray and smooth it out to create an even garden bed for your seeds. For the best results and the fastest grow time you can soak the seeds in water overnight before planting to encourage them to sprout more quickly.
Scatter the seeds over the soil as evenly as possible, using more seeds than what you would if you were planning on growing mature plants. These guys are going to grow more like a field of grass than a single adult plant so they don’t need much space between them. You’ll want to harvest as many as you can from each tray since they aren’t going to grow very thick or tall.
Once they have been spread throughout the tray, cover them in a thin layer of soil and give them a generous misting of water. If you plan to use a warming mat you can place them on it at this point and position them near a window or under a grow light. If using natural sunlight, a south-facing window is optimal as you will get the best light exposure throughout the day.
Keep your little guys happy and healthy by misting them a few times per day.
How to Harvest Microgreens
Grow time varies depending on what type of plant you’re growing but they will typically be ready to harvest within 2 to 3 weeks. You’ll know they’re ready when they sprout their first “true leaves’ as opposed to the cotyledons, or “seed leaves”, that come directly from the seed. They should be about 1 to 2 inches tall once they’re ready to harvest.
To reap your tiny crop, cut the microgreens just above the soil level with some scissors or small shears. Give them a bit of a rinse and they’re ready to throw into a salad, stuff into a sandwich, or place as a lovely garnish on the side of any dish.
Many types of plants will regrow a few times after harvesting, allowing you to get multiple crops from every planting. When they’re done producing useful plant material you can pull up the roots and plant a new crop or simply dispose of the soil in your compost bin.
Microgreens are a great addition to any meal for their nutritional value as well as their decorative appearance. They’re so quick and easy to grow that you can pretty much decide you want a microgreen salad next week and get a new crop growing right away. Aside from their practical and decorative purposes, they’re also just super fun to repeatedly plant, watch sprout, harvest, eat, and repeat.