Microgreens have grown in popularity over the past few years. Their quick and easy growing season makes them a perfect option for those looking to dip their toes into home gardening and self-reliance.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are immature seedlings of greens lettuce and herbs, typically 1-3 inches in height. You have likely already been introduced to these young seedlings. Their bright colors and more intense flavors have made them a popular garnish among chefs. Microgreens should not be confused with sprouts, another popular mini-plant option. Sprouts are grown in water while microgreens are grown in soil.
Benefits of Growing Microgreens
[simpleazon-image align=”left” asin=”B00AXOJ1SK” locale=”us” height=”155″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51Mu6TwAMUL._SL160_.jpg” width=”160″]Studies have suggested that micrgreens contains more nutrients than fully-developed plants. Radishes, cilantro and red cabbage microgreens can boast up to 40 times the vital nutrients contained in mature plants!
Microgreens can be harvested as soon as one to two weeks after germination.
Because these are miniature plants, they require very little growing space. They can even be grown indoors, making them ideal for apartment dwellers and year-round gardening.
How to Grow Microgreens
Until recently, these potent micro-plants were only available and widely used by chefs. Today you can find them in farmers markets and health food stores. Or, you can grow your own.
Almost any lettuce or herb can be harvested as a microgreen. Popular varieties include mustard, kale, spinach, radish greens, watercress, endive, arugula and beet greens. If pesticides or GMOs are a concern, choose organic seeds.
You can grow your microgreens in outside containers, garden beds or on a sunny windowsill. The amount of light needed is debatable. As the growth span is so short, you may be able to grow your plants without a lot of natural light. If container gardening, choose a container at least 2 inches deep.
Sow your seeds approximately 1/8 to ¼ inch apart. They don’t need much room as you will be harvesting them before they reach full size.
Cover with approximately 1/8 inch soil and water thoroughly. Keep soil moist and weeded.
Harvesting can usually be done within 10 days to two weeks, when their first tiny leaves develop. Simply snip your greens about the soil to harvest.
You can immediately start your next crop in the same location or container after harvesting. There is no need to remove the roots or wait, simply sow another batch of seeds. (The roots of the old plants will actually act as a natural fertilizer.)
[simpleazon-image align=”right” asin=”1423603648″ locale=”us” height=”160″ src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51cvXW3fZaL._SL160_.jpg” width=”123″]These small plants are very delicate and must be handled with care. They bruise easily and their high water content makes cooking a poor choice for preparation. The good news is they are delicious raw. And their quick-growing season makes them ideal for those looking for healthier, more self-sustaining food options.