Microgreens can benefit both novice and experienced gardeners. A handful of seeds will last you a long time, saving you a trip to the grocery store. Michael Pollan, a food journalist, is a big fan of these tiny plants. He shows you how to grow them for yourself here.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are tiny herbs and plants that can be eaten within weeks of being planted. If you leave them to grow long enough, they will transform into baby greens and then full-grown leafy vegetables. Amaranth, arugula, buckwheat, chard, chia, cilantro, fennel, radishes, and wheatgrass are all examples of microgreens.
One advantage of growing these plants is their ability to sprout all year in various climates. Growing microgreens outdoors may be more difficult in some areas, but they can always be grown indoors year round.
Health Benefits of Microgreens
These small, easy-to-grow plants are high in antioxidants and carotenoids like beta-carotene, and have a high nutritional value. They are also high in iron, magnesium, vitamin C, and zinc. Consuming microgreens on a regular basis may be associated with a lower risk of cancer, heart disease, and other adverse health conditions, according to research. They may also aid in the reduction of cholesterol and blood pressure.
Sprouts vs. Microgreens
While many people consider sprouts to be the mature counterparts to microgreens, this is incorrect. Microgreens and sprouts are both vegetables, but microgreens grow in soil while sprouts grow in water. Microgreens are also higher in nutritional value than many types of sprouts. Still, if you want to grow vegetables in the shortest amount of time, choose sprouts over microgreens. Microgreens take a week or two to mature, whereas sprouts only take a few days.
Necessary Supplies for Growing Microgreens
Microgreens only require a few supplies to fully develop. You'll need the following materials to grow your own microgreens:
Growing tray: If you decide to do your gardening indoors, you'll need a growing tray with drainage holes to give these tiny greens a place to grow. Home and garden stores sell premade microgreens kits, but you can always make your own microgreen tray.
Light source: Growing microgreens indoors necessitates a limited amount of light. While grow lights may be required if you live in a cloudy and dark climate during the fall or winter, a sunny windowsill may suffice if your house receives plenty of light throughout the year.
Seeds: There are many different types of seeds that can be used to grow microgreens. In contrast to larger seeds, you can spread a wide variety of these fast growers onto the soil and see results quickly.
Soil: Although soil is the most common growing medium for microgreens, you can use another type of potting mix or growing medium. You can also mix the seeds into the soil with a small cultivator.
Water: While microgreens don't require a lot of water to thrive, a steady supply of moisture will be very beneficial. When you notice the soil becoming dry, bring your watering can or spray bottle to the plant.
How to Grow Microgreens in 5 Steps
1. Gather your materials. All of the necessary supplies are required to grow microgreens. "[If you're] going to grow microgreens," Michael says, "all you need is some potting soil, an egg carton, or some sort of dish to serve as the base of your planting medium." Technically, an egg carton isn't required; any shallow container will suffice.
2. Select microgreen seeds. According to Michael, no matter what type of sprouting seeds you choose, opt for fresh and organic ones. "The seeds could be from any number of crops," he says. "Greens are frequently used. However, it is critical to obtain organic seed." These seeds will provide you with more nutritional value.
3. Add water to the soil. Once you have your soil, add some water to it to make it ready for your seeds. "All you have to do is put some water in the puck and it will magically expand," Michael explains. "We now have this mud, potting soil, and water." This serves as the foundation for the growth of your plants.
4. Sow the seeds. When it comes to microgreens, seed starting is a breeze. "Once you've prepared your planting bed," Michael says, "take your seeds and plant them pretty densely because they won't have to grow that big." And then sprinkle them as evenly as possible on the planting bed." Allow this thin layer to rest for a moment before moving on to the next step.
5. Monitor the growth of the seeds. Consistent and diligent attention to the progress of your plants will be rewarded. "Cover your mini-garden with a paper towel," Michael instructs. "Wet the paper towel. That's the end of it. You'll take this off in two days, and at that point, you might notice some growth." Provide light and water to these quick growers, and enjoy their lightning-quick germination rate.
How to Harvest Microgreens
You can eat these plants immediately after they have grown. Keep the following tips in mind when harvesting microgreens:
Examine the leaves. Microgreen leaves sprout quickly, but they grow in two stages. The first leaves to appear (cotyledons) are tiny seed outgrowths that appear underdeveloped in comparison to the first set of true leaves. When your microgreens begin to resemble a miniature version of a mature plant, they are ready to harvest.
Plants should be cut at the soil level. Regardless of the type of microgreens you grow, snip the seed leaves and stems above soil level rather than pulling them up from the root. This is especially true for pea shoots and other stalky vegetables that reach a certain height. If you keep them in the soil, they will continue to produce leaves.
Make good use of the microgreens. Microgreens can be eaten in a variety of ways. Serve as a garnish on soups or stir-fry dishes. Blend them into smoothies for added nutrition. Salad greens and red cabbage microgreens can even be used to make an entire mini salad.