A Guide to Growing Microgreens

A Guide to Growing Microgreens
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How to grow microgreens indoors? Whether you already have an indoor garden or you’re thinking about starting one, microgreens are an excellent choice. First, they’re never going to grow big enough to take up much space. Also, they can easily be grown right in your 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. It’s a word that describes the growing and harvesting process of young shoots from various edible greens.

Don’t confuse these with sprouts, which are harvested in the younger, newly germinated stages. Microgreens are basically the miniature versions of various herbs and veggies that have just begun to grow their leaves.

Why Learn How to Grow Microgreens?

If microgreens are just young vegetables, why not grow them to maturity and get a full-grown plant for your efforts?

Microgreens have a few benefits that full-grown plants just can’t provide. Their delicate leaves and stems make an excellent garnish. Use them to 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 to keep in the kitchen year-round. Once you have the items needed to grow them, they’re inexpensive to maintain and replant as often as needed. Because they’re harvested so young, the plant material is still full of all the nutrients it requires to grow. So, microgreens are packed with way more vitamins, nutrients, and healthy enzymes than their adult forms 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 at once. This way, you’re sure to 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 doesn’t 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 quality potting soil in your tray. Then, smooth it out to create an even garden bed for your seeds. For the best results and the fastest grow time, soak microgreens seeds in water overnight before planting them. This will encourage them to sprout more quickly.

Scatter the seeds over the soil as evenly as possible, using more seeds than you would if 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. Harvest as many as you can from each tray since they aren’t going to grow very thick or tall.

Once they’ve been spread throughout the tray, cover them in a thin layer of soil and a generous water misting. If you plan to use a warming mat, you can place them on it at this point. 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, as a rule, they will typically be ready to harvest within 2 to 3 weeks. They’re ready when they sprout their first “true leaves,” as opposed to the “seed leaves” that come directly from 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 plant scissors or small shears. Give them a bit of a rinse and they’re ready! Throw them into a salad, or sandwich, or place as a 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. Alternatively, 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 fun to repeatedly plant, watch sprout, harvest, eat, and repeat.

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