January Gardening: Growing Microgreens

It’s January, and all you garden lovers are probably wishing you could plant and thinking of your spring garden in a few months. Today let’s discuss winter gardening by growing microgreens, a popular addition to salads and dishes.  They are sold at a premium price at trendy supermarkets.  They are considered nutrient dense powerhouses with up for 40 times more nutrients than when the same seeds are allowed to grow to maturity. I’ve been buying them in the supermarket but would like to grow them. I thought you might like to know what I learned in my research.

 

 

What are microgreens?

 

Microgreens were first developed in the late 1980’s in California.  They are not sprouts or even baby greens. Sprouts are germinated seeds without true leaves and are eaten whole.  Sprouts are heavily regulated due to the high risk of microbial contamination. Baby Greens are 3″ to 4″ tall while microgreens are about 2″ tall. There is no legal definition of microgreens or baby greens.   There are dozens of microgreens you can choose from offering a variety of flavors and colors to add to your dishes.

Relatively easy to grow and bursting with nutrients, microgreens can be a fun growing project in the winter. Most seeds require less sunlight than growing produce to maturity.  If you have a bright windowsill or room for a grow light, then you can grow microgreens in your home this winter.  Get the kids involved for fun family gardening.

 

 

Choosing Greens

 

There are dozens of seeds to choose from for growing microgreens as 80–100 different crop varieties have been reportedly used. You won’t typically find lettuces used for microgreens though, as they are a bit too delicate and wilt easily.  The crops can be divided in to 2 basic categories: fast growing and slow growing.

Most microgreens are ready in 7 to 14 days. You’ll know they are ready when the first true leaves begin to grow. The information below was provided by University of Florida’s IFAS, (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences):

Fast Growing Microgreens

  1. Red cabbage
  2. Chinese cabbage (Kogane)
  3. collards (Champion)
  4. cress (Cressida and Persian)
  5. hon tsai tai
  6. kale (Red Russion and Tuscano)
  7. kohlrabi
  8. mizuna
  9. mustards (except Red Giant)
  10. pac choi (Rosie)
  11. radish
  12. tatsoi

 

Slow Growing Microgreens

  1. anise
  2. anise hyssop
  3. amaranth (Garnet Red)
  4. arugula
  5. basils
  6. beets
  7. carrots
  8. chards
  9. chervil
  10. cilantro
  11. cutting celery
  12. dill
  13. fennel
  14. komatsuna
  15. lemon balm
  16. magent spreen
  17. marigold (Gem)
  18. mustard (Red Giant)
  19. orach (Ruby Red)
  20. pac choi (Red Pac)
  21. parsley
  22. purslane (Red Gruner)
  23. salad burnet
  24. scallion (Evergreen Hardy White)
  25. shungiku
  26. saltwort
  27. shiso (Britton)

Some seeds benefit from soaking before planting: beets (24 hours), cilantro (2 hours), buckwheat (12 hours – rinse and drain seeds twice daily for 2 days), peas (8–12 hours), sunflower (8 hours), nasturtium (8 hours), popcorn (8 hours), winter wheat (8 hours).

 

How To Grow Microgreens

 

Microgreens require an optimal temperature  of 65°-75° F, which is typically the temperature inside most homes. They need a decent amount of sunlight or you can use grow lights.  Use a container that is 2 to 3 ½ inches deep, food grade, and sterile.  If you grow your microgreens in small trays, you’ll need to harvest with scissors. They should be grown in standard, sterile, loose, soilless, germinating media. Ideal media for germinating your seeds includes peat moss, coconut fibers, shredded sphagnum (all three hold water well), vermiculite (which holds water and is lightweight), perlite (which is light with great air flower and drainage) or a combination of any of the above.  The growing container should have holes to drain the water and a tray underneath to catch the water. The container is topped with a clear plastic lid to maintain heat and humidity.  There are microgreen growing kits with medium and trays; some even have seeds.

 


Photo Amazon

 

 

  1. Fill the container with moistened medium (preferably organic) to a depth of 1 to 1 1/2 inch. Smooth and flatten the soil down with a piece of cardboard so the soil bed is flat and even, but not compacted.
  2. Sprinkle a generous amount of seed on top of the soil bed.  A general rule of thumb for growing microgreens is to plant 10–12 seeds per square inch if seeds are small and 6–8 seeds per square inch for large seeds. Be sure to pre-soak any seeds that require it.
  3. Some seeds benefit from being covered lightly with media or fine vermiculite; this optional step is more important for larger seeds. Gently press the seeds onto the surface of the media.
  4. Mist with water and then cover them. Seeds may need some warmth to germinate; the temperature needs vary between seeds.
  5. Seeds that do not need a cover are broccoli, cabbage, lemon balm, mint, oregano, and thyme. Light cover works best for amaranth, arugula, basil, beets, chervil, dill, fennel, kale, mustard, pea, sage, shiso, sorrel, tatsoi, and wasabi. Cover is best for carrots, celery, Swiss chard, chive, cilantro, parsley, radish, sunflower, and watercress.
  6. Keep your trays covered and in a dark place for 4–5 days (or until seeds germinate). During this time, remove the cover and mist the seeds twice a day. The day after leaves emerge, remove the cover and move the tray to the sunniest location you can find in your home (the more sunlight, the better). Place your seeds in a south-facing window for best light and turn your container 180 degrees each day so that the entire tray gets sunlight.
  7. Watch your babies grow while you keep the soil moist and watered. Your microgreens will be ready in 7 to 14 days.
  8. Harvest by cutting them with scissors or an electric knife, about an inch below the leaves.The best time to harvest is at night or in the morning.
  9. They can be washed and used fresh or stored in the refrigerator in a plastic container; they generally keep for 5–6 days in the fridge. For best storage results, store microgreens in a container that has air holes.

 

 

 

How to Use Microgreens

 

Add microgreens to your salads or wraps for some extra crunch. They’re great blended into smoothies and juices as well. Wheatgrass and broccoli microgreens are especially popular for juicing, and they’re a healthy way to start off your day. You can sprinkle some as a garnish ​in almost any dish.

 

Try them on top of pizzas, soups, curries, omelets, stir fries, pasta, and other hot dishes.

 

Pizza With Pesto, Mozzarella, and Arugula Microgreens, Little Wild Things Farm

 

 

 

Roasted Acorn Squash, Microgreens, and Quinoa Salad, Chef de Home

 

 

 

 

Sunflower Guacamole, Alive.com

 

 

 

 

Microgreen Pesto, My Sweet Greens MN

 

 

 

I hope I’ve inspired you to use microgreens in your recipes and maybe even to try a small container of seeds on your windowsill.   Here’s to your tasty, healthy meals!

 

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Carol

I was raised in Tennessee but have lived in Florida for many years. Love my small home in the Tampa Bay area and its developing garden. My decorating style is eclectic - some vintage, some cottage, all with a modern flair. Pursuing a healthier lifestyle. Spent many years in social services but am happily retired.

24 thoughts to “January Gardening: Growing Microgreens”

  1. The only microgreen I knew off the top of my head was cress. I remember growing that when I was in school and have since with my girls. It is one of the easiest to grow.

  2. Thanks for the instructions, I have not grown these before but I like the idea that they are bio with lots of variety to choose from and can be used in a variety of dishes.

    1. it is easy because you aren’t growing them big – set it up right and in a week or 2 you are cutting microgreens

  3. YUM!! I pinned this! Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 8, this party will be open until January 26.

    My themed party 9 for All Things Crochet is open until January 25 if you have any appropriate posts.

    I would love to have you join me at my short story prompt party February 2 to 9 for fun and creativity. Just start typing and see what you come up with. Remember, no story is too short! The prompt is: The sun was shining brightly but then…

  4. How lovely to have these fresh greens even in the winter! I love windowsill gardening. Sharing on the Hearth and Soul Facebook page. Thank you for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Link Party, Carol.

  5. Visiting again to say thanks so much for linking up with me at #AThemedLinkup 16 for Gardening, open April 30 to May 10. All entries shared if social media buttons are installed.

I love to make new friends and get to know you.

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