Small but mighty, microgreens pack big flavor and nutrients in their tiny leaves. Fine eateries have commonly used these as a garnish or ingredient, but they have recently been catching the eye of many for everyday meals at home. These immature leafy greens are harvested after the first set of leaves, the cotyledon, are fully formed. Not to be confused with sprouts which are seeds germinated in water and the consumed shoot, root, and stem – microgreens are just the stems and leaves cut above the soil line when the plant is only 14-30 days old. You can use any salad greens, leafy vegetables, herbs or edible flowers for your microgreen garden. Common varieties grown are salad mixes, radishes, arugula, cilantro and basil. When using these as a garnish you are introducing the pure flavor of the plant into your dish with their delicate leaves. This vibrant garnish harbors rich colors and flavors that do not disappoint to their mature counterparts. Their nutrient levels exceed 4-6 times more than the boost of vitamins you would receive from a small handful of greens.
Growing microgreens on your own is simple. All you need is a sunny window, potting mix, a shallow container, and the seeds to your favorite greens.
Select your growing container. You can use something as simple as a nursery tray, plastic produce container, or choose something a little more decorative to match your décor. We have a great assortment of dish-like containers at our nursery we use for succulent plantings but are a great additions to a microgreen kitchen gardens. If you container does not have holes be sure to add them for drainage.
Add a 2” layer of potting soil in your container.
Scatter your seeds over the surface of the soil. You do not need to follow the spacing guidelines on the seed package because the plants will not reach maturity.
Cover the seeds with a thin layer of potting soil, about 1/8” thick.
Place your container in a well-lit windowsill. Plants will need about four hours of sunlight each day. If your greens look leggy or pale relocate the container.
Heavily mist the soil two times per day until seeds have germinated. After germination you can reduce watering to once a day.
Microgreens are ready to harvest 14-30 days after germination, when the plants are about 2” tall.
When ready to harvest use a pair of scissors (ceramic is recommended to keep the ends from turning brown) and cut greens just above soil line. Rinse off and ENJOY!
Planters note: If you are planning on growing multiple varieties (which I recommend) plant each type in their own section of the container(s). By doing this you will have an easier time harvesting since each variety has a different growth rate. We have microgreen seed pack mixes at The Gardens with similar germination rates.
Greens should be used shortly after harvesting for best flavors. If you need to store them for a day or two place them between damp paper towels in an air tight container or storage bag.
For best flavor and nutrient value you should start a new crop after every harvest.
I love to simply add these as a garnish to any dish. It gives you all of the flavor of herbs and vegetables in an aesthetic haute cuisine finish. There is no end to the possibilities of these little beauties. You can even make an interesting starter course salad only using microgreens, good olive oil, sea salt and pepper. A delicate, flavorful way to start your meal.
If you would like to join our workshop making your own microgreen garden join us on Saturday, August 27 at 9 am. RSVP online (www.thegardensatcalturf.com) or over the phone (559-688-2084). It’s just $40 per person, and includes a decorative container.