Monday, May 7, 2012


Note: This is a guest post by on how to grow microgreens.

  Picture courtesy of Sunset Magazine

Microgreens are a relatively recent addition to the produce aisle. These tiny seedlings are harvested when the first true leaves appear (after the cotyledon or seed leaf stage). They are a specialty crop which many chefs like to use to garnish their dishes or add to salads. Microgreens add color, flavor and texture to any dish. In addition, they are a nutrient dense food, meaning that they provide a significant amount of nutrients compared to the calories in the food. According to the University of Florida IFAS Extension, Sprouts, microgreens and baby greens are simply greens harvested and consumed in an immature state.

·         Sprouts the youngest/smallest, are germinated seed which is sprouted, and are consumed whole. Are ready to eat in 2-6 days after soaking.

·         Microgreens slightly older/larger (about 2-3” tall). Are ready to eat within a week of planting. Some varieties take longer. They are cut at the soil level at harvest.

·         Baby Greens or Petite Greens the oldest/largest (3-4” tall). Are usually ready to eat in 1-2 weeks. They are cut at the soil level at harvest.

Baby lettuce greens grown by 

Growing microgreens or baby greens can be grown in a garden, or on a kitchen counter or covered patio table (weather permitting). This is a great way to have a year round garden!

Here’s what you’ll need to grow microgreens:

·         Seedling Trays, recycled plastic trays or short pots

Seedling trays are best, but there is nothing wrong with using plastic trays that used to contain some sort of produce you bought. These don’t need to have holes in the bottom, as long as you don’t over water.

·         Organic potting mix, vermiculite and worm castings

Using organic potting mix is best. It doesn’t hurt to add some vermiculite to the mix, as it makes for better soil drainage. Some growers swear by adding worm castings to the mix. You can purchase these from garden centers.

·         Spray Water Bottle or water bottle with small pull up spout

Spray your seeds to keep moist until they sprout, and keep emerging plants from drying out while growing.

How to start your microgreens:

1.    Fill seed tray with good quality, nutrient rich potting soil. Lightly compact soil (using a tamping device or the back of a spoon) to create an even surface. Do not  compact the soil or you will not get good growing results

2.    TIP: Be sure not to overfill the soil or you will have a mess on your hands when you water. Leave ½” space from the soil line to the top of your container.

Microgreens kit with radish seed –

3.    Add seeds. Sprinkle high quality seeds over your soil, evenly. You can plant densely, or sparsely, depending on your preference.

4.    Press the seeds lightly into the soil without pressing them under the soil. Use a tamping tool or the back of a spoon. This will help the seeds to set roots.

5.    Cover the seeds with soil or paper towel. Soil is best for large seeds. Sprinkle soil over the seeds to keep them covered and moist after watering. For small seeds, use the paper towel by gently placing towel over the entire surface.

6.    Water. Use plenty of water but apply it in a gentle way to not disrupt the seeds. The seeds should not be in standing water, but should be moist.

7.    Cover Tray using the clear plastic dome that comes with your tray. It will keep your seeds warm and moist; kind of like a mini greenhouse!

8.    Germinate seeds by keeping soil/paper towel covering seeds moist. Seeds will push up the towel or soil. You can remove the paper towel once the seeds begin to push up the towel.  Consider using a spray bottle to mist the seeds/soil at this point, or a water bottle with a pop-up drinking cap to gently squeeze water onto germinated seeds. TIP: small seeds may have fuzz, which can look like mold, but is normal for many seed varieties.

Sunflower seeds beginning to grow in seedling tray
9.    Put in a location with indirect sunlight or under a grow light once growth is established. You can remove the cover at this point as well. Do not put your microgreens in the sun with the cover on or they will overheat die.

10. Harvest and Eat!

You can decide at what point you want to cut your microgreens and eat them. Cut a few once they are a couple of inches high and see how you like the taste. Sunflower greens should be cut before they reach the true leaf stage (before another set of leaves appears in the center of the first leaves) or they might taste bitter. Use clean, sharp kitchen scissors to harvest your microgreens. After harvesting, your greens will keep for 7-10 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Sunflower microgreens, cut and washed

No comments: