July 14, 2014
If you’ve never heard of microgreens before (or you’ve heard of them but don’t know much else), I have a major treat for you today.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens come from the same seeds as regular greens, they’re just harvested much earlier. So, depending on the type of seed, you could actually do four things with them: sprout them, grow microgreens, grow baby greens, or let them grow to full-size heads of lettuce (or broccoli, or radishes, or whatever).
What are the Benefits of Microgreens?
“Cuteness” aside, microgreens have some great benefits for homesteaders, preppers, and urban gardeners:
1) Many microgreens may have more nutrients than their adult counterparts, according to this article from NPR.
2) They have a turnaround time of about 14 days from planting to harvest.
3) You can grow them in very little space—raise them in a windowsill, on your counter top, or in a little corner of an existing greenhouse.
4) They’re an easy, efficient way to get the familiar flavor, color, and texture into your food storage meals—think micro cilantro on your favorite tacos—and makes more meals possible, like a nice leafy salad (without the expense and labor of a full-grown garden).
What Kind of Greens Can I Grow?
If you’re worried about variety, you can put those fears to rest right now. A Google search for microgreen seeds landed me tons of sites to choose from, and from a quick glance at a few of those sites, here are some of the varieties I saw:
|Collard Greens||Curly Cress||Endive|
How Can I Grow Microgreens at Home?
It’s easier than you might think to grow microgreens. Follow these steps, and you’ll be in business:
1) Pick a fairly shallow tray (3-4 inches high). Make sure it has drainage holes. A lid is also really helpful.
2) Fill it with 1.5-2” of damp potting soil.
3) Scatter the seeds evenly across the soil. Don’t sow too many, but you can sow many more than you normally would if you were growing full-size veggies.
4) Use a board to gently press the seeds into the top of the soil.
5) The you can either:
- Cover the seeds with a damp paper towel, which you’ll keep there until the greens need light
- Use a fine-mesh sieve or colander to scatter a shallow layer of soil over the seeds.
6) Water well (but don’t overwater) to get things started, and keep the soil damp but well-drained until harvest.
7) Attach the lid, and put the tray in a sunny area. (If it gets too warm, these tender little greens can burn, so vent the lid if it seems like the container needs to cool down a bit).
8) Water regularly so the soil stays damp (but not soaked), and enjoy watching your greens grow!
9) Harvest at around 14 days. To harvest, simply cut the stems just above the soil line with a pair of sharp scissors.
10) Compost the used soil, and start again!
How do I Use Microgreens in Recipes?
Use your imagination to come up with great ways to use your harvest! Here are a few ideas to get you started:
1) Make a microgreen salad—treat the greens just like you would full-size greens.
2) Use them in place of full-grown lettuce on sandwiches, hamburgers, tacos, tostadas, or any other recipe where you’d typically use lettuce.
3) Add them to soups for a fresh flavor and a slight crunch.
4) Top off a delicious appetizer with just the right hint of flavor.
5) Make your food tasty and beautiful by using microgreens as a delicious garnish.
6) Juice them.
7) Add them to a smoothie.
Have you ever grown or used microgreens? How do you (or would you) use them?
Microgreens: A Guide to Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens by Eric Franks & Jasmine Richardson