By Sommer Cartier.
If you’re new to urban gardening or lack sufficient growing space, microgreens are the perfect way to start developing your green thumb. These little nutrient-packed juvenile greens can be ready for consumption within as little as seven to fourteen days, making them fun for gardeners of all ages, especially children. For the hobby chef, adding color, flavor, and texture to your dishes can elevate the culinary experience.
Below is a quick, but comprehensive guide on growing microgreens at home:
Location: Use a sunny windowsill or balcony.
Seeds: Beet, radish, pea, broccoli, sunflower, or any leafy green or herb can be grown as a microgreen (no need to pay the premium price of a pre-packaged microgreen mix). You can even use expired seeds from previous seasons for microgreens. Some may fail to germinate, but that’s ok. You can afford to lose a few. Just be sure to use only untreated seeds since the greens are eaten young. This is very important!
Container: Here is where you get creative! Upcycle a clean shallow container such as a plastic food tray, your blueberry carton, or even eggshells (children love this!).
Soil: Seed starting soil is best. However, potting soil works too.
Fill your container with soil.
Evenly spread the seeds across the surface, covering the soil like a blanket. Be careful not to overlap seeds. If using larger seeds such as sunflowers or peas, soak them overnight before planting.
Lightly press the seeds to settle them in the soil.
Cover your seeds with a damp cloth or paper towel to keep them moist until they germinate.
Once the seeds germinate, remove the damp towel and watch them grow. Be sure to always keep the soil evenly moist. A spray bottle is most effective with keeping the soil moist without disrupting seeds or overwatering, which can lead to root rot.
Harvesting: The best time to harvest microgreens is when they've developed their first set of true leaves. When harvesting, make sure you do so early in the day when foliage is coolest. Using scissors, cut at the base of the stem close to the soil, as if you were giving your microgreens a haircut.
Cleaning and Storing: If there is soil residue, give your greens a light quick rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Microgreens have a storage life of about 3 to 4 days, but can last up to a week in the fridge if wrapped in a paper towel and stored in a sealed plastic bag.
Experiment with different varieties to add varied flavors and textures to any dish. Add them to a sandwich, salad, or stir-fry for a boost of nutrients. Follow these simple steps and you will be enjoying these easy-to-grow tiny delicate greens in no time.