As the garden season draws to a close, you might be missing those delicious flavors of fresh garden produce–microgreens are the answer. Keeping a small garden indoors through the winter will extend your season of fresh flavor, and it’s easier than you might think!
There are many different types of edible houseplants, but microgreens have to be the easiest to maintain. Since you don’t have them very long, you don’t have to nurture the plants to full maturity; it’s hard to screw up.
Here’s our step-by-step guide for how to grow your microgreens inside.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are the seedlings of many common vegetables we usually grow in our gardens. They’re prevalent in the restaurant industry because they add a ton of flavor and beauty to dishes. With so many different varieties of plants to grow, you can have a vast selection of different textures, colors, and flavors to add to your recipes.
How Are Microgreens and Sprouts Different?
Microgreens and sprouts are similar in that we eat the juvenile form of the plant. But, sprouts are started just in water. Sprouts must be rinsed several times per day because there is the possibility that they could develop salmonella if they’re not properly rinsed and drained. Because you grow microgreens in the potting mix at home, the risk of bacteria is a lot lower. Generally, you eat sprouts when they’re very very small, just starting to sprout. But with microgreens, you let them grow a bit more until they have a few small leaves.
Why Should You Grow Microgreens?
You should grow microgreens to bump up the flavors in your recipes through the winter and add more nutrients and vitamins to your food. Microgreens have high nutrient values relative to their size, so they’re a great way to add more essential vitamins to your meals, and they have a more concentrated flavor in the plant than mature plants, so they add a lot of flavor to recipes.
What Do You Need to Grow Microgreens Inside?
You don’t need much to grow microgreens in your home: some seed starter mix, a seedling tray, and a sunny window. But, adding a few more things can help you grow much denser crops.
For an ideal microgreen setup, you’ll want:
- Seed trays and humidity dome covers
- Seed starting mix
- Grow lights with a timer
You can grow microgreens on a sunny windowsill, but grow lights will make your crops more successful because they’ll get consistent bright light in close proximity, ideally no higher than 2-3 inches above the seedlings, for the whole day. You should have your lights on 12-14 hours per day. Having a timer that turns your lights on and off makes it effortless to manage!
There are some excellent kits available for growing microgreens. They usually include everything you need to grow, plus seeds, and it’s all designed to fit and work perfectly together.
How to Plant Microgreens
Fill your seedling trays with your starter soil and moisten before planting so you don’t disturb the seeds after planting. Check the packet directions to see if your seeds need to be covered or just laid on top of the soil. You can plant seeds for microgreens much closer together than usual because you’ll be using them long before they reach mature size.
If your seeds need to be covered, gently sprinkle or sift more soil over them, set the humidity domes over the top, and let them get to work sprouting. Keep the soil moist but not too wet, and start turning the lights on when you see tiny green shoots on top of the soil.
Watering Your Microgreens
The more careful you are about watering your microgreens, the less work you have to do when they’re ready to eat. If you’re really into it, you could invest in a capillary matting system, which essentially soaks water up from a reservoir as plants need it.
If you want to use regular watering, just make sure to do it gently and water at the roots. If you water from above the leaves, some will inevitably bend or fall and get potting mix on the leaves, which you’ll then have to wash off when you want to eat them.
How to Harvest Microgreens
Harvesting is pretty simple. You’ll need a pair of clean, sharp scissors. Once your plants have 2-3 leaves each and are 1-2 inches tall, you can snip them off just above the soil level and add them to your salads, sandwiches, or whatever you want!
If you’d like to know a little more about how to grow microgreens at home, then sign up for our Microgreens and sprouts workshop on September 25. The class fee includes detailed instructions and information about growing microgreens and sprouts, your choice of a sprouting box plus a packet of seeds, or a growing tray plus two packets of seeds.