By Bonnie L. Grant
Healthy living and eating requires three to five servings of vegetables per day. Variety in your diet is one way to make achieving that goal easier. The addition of different foods in your repertoire keeps you from getting bored. Microgreens are an interesting and tasty way to introduce more veggies. What are microgreens? They are the latest hip vegetable to grace five star restaurants and high end produce markets. The good news is they are easy to grow and you can do it yourself indoors.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are the sprouted seeds of various lettuces and greens. They are grown in small, shallow containers like seed flats in crowded conditions that makes it easier to harvest them. In addition to lettuce microgreens, you can sprout cruciforms, beets, radishes, celery, basil and dill. Micro-green production is expensive and time consuming in large scale operations but at home growing microgreens is very simple.
Many gardeners prefer to sprout the seeds before they plant them. If you wish to do so, you can wrap your seed in a moist paper towel in a closed plastic bag until they sprout and then sow them. However, it could be difficult to plant the sprouted seed without breaking off the tender new growth. The plants grow so quickly that sprouting microgreens is not really necessary.
How to Grow Microgreens
Growing microgreens just requires soil, a container, heat, water and seeds. Learning how to grow microgreens is a great project for children. For the container, choose a low almost flat tray, preferably with drainage. The soil used should be a potting mix with a little extra perlite mixed into the medium. Lettuce microgreens can be sown on the surface of the soil or just lightly covered with a sifting of soil. Heavier seeds need complete soil contact and should be sown ¼ to 1/8 inch deep.
Microgreens do not need fertilizer but they do need to be kept moist. A water mister is useful for dampening the soil and you can place a lid or plastic wrap over the container until they sprout. Place the container where temperatures are at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit for germination. Lettuce microgreens and some other greens can be grown in slightly cooler temperatures. Give the microgreens plenty of bright indirect light.
Use a pair of kitchen shears to cut off the tiny plants as you need them. They are ready for harvest when they reach the true leaf stage. This is generally at 2 inches tall. The microgreens do not keep long and are prone to wilting. The plants should be washed thoroughly to ensure that no pathogen or contamination has occurred.