Are you a sprouter extraordinaire? After a season spent growing sprouts in our new sprout bag, I’ve now ventured into microgreens. What are microgreens? Sprouts grow in damp conditions, but microgreens grow in soil. They’re the wee baby plants that poke their little heads out of the soil, all fresh and green. Microgreens are great to clip and eat just as soon as they have emerged, and they’re good to add to a winter salad.
Why Grow Microgreens?
Where I live, seasonal greens are becoming more common, but it’s still hard to buy local greens in the winter. I grow a winter garden, but it is best in the very early spring. To add a little more green to my sprout salads, I’m now embarking into the world of growing microgreens. These new baby leaves are packed with nutrition!
What Plants To Grow
Like garden plants that you might grow in the summer, microgreens sprout from seeds, but your goal is not to grow a large plant. You want plants that grow nutritious new leaves in a matter of days.What plants fit the bill? Many do – just about every veggie can grow as a microgreen. If in doubt, ask your seed provider. You’ll want to look for varieties that feature abundant leaf production, and you don’t need to worry about the features of the adult plant.
Some particularly interesting microgreens are:
Arugula, kale, and sunflower. Contain over 25% protein!
Basil. Has the yummy flavor of more mature plants
Mustard. When you’d like to spice up your sandwich, these are delicious
Swiss Chard. These greens are mostly red, and they’re very pretty in a salad
Ultimately, what you grow for your salad is up to your palate too. Some microgreens are spicy, others are bitter, and some taste like sprouts or baby lettuce. Hold off on the bulk seed orders until you try a few microgreens and test them to make sure that everyone eat what you grow.
How to Grow Microgreens
I grow my greens under a light in my basement. I have a full spectrum grow light set up for starting seeds, so I tuck the greens under there close to the light. It’s warm, and they’re in a room that’s tucked away from children and pets. My green growing area doesn’t look pretty at all, but it does the job.
I grow microgreens in different containers, since they take different amounts of time to germinate. You can harvest them after their true leaves appear.
Microgreens require good soil. It can be easy for an outdoor gardener to forget about soil. Sometimes it just seems like a bunch of brown under your feet. However, good soil is the foundation of good plant growth and nutritional content. You’ll want to make sure that your microgreens have something substantial to munch on as they grow, so that you can get good nutrition too! I buy Sea Soil’s potting mix, which is light but full of nutrients. I also supplement my soil with an organic, kelp-based fertilizer.
Microgreens grow quickly.You’ll need to check them at least once a day, and preferably twice. At this time, make sure that the soil is damp. I turn on the light in the morning and turn it off in the evening, so this is the time I check my seeds. The total care time is less than ten minutes a day.
If you want to eat locally in the late fall, winter, and early spring, it can be hard to get some green into your diet. Winter just isn’t known for its abundance of tender green vegetables. Growing sprouts, microgreens, and other goodies indoors under a grow light or a bright window is a way to supplement your winter diet with good, home-grown food.
Image Credit: (Feature Image): Microgreen salad. Photo: ilovemypit / CC by 2.0