Microgreens, a garden in your kitchen

Microgreens might be the hottest trend in “boutique vegetables” and served at the best restaurants, but they are really easy and fun to grow at home. In fact, many of the plants Veggie U students grow in their classroom gardens are actually microgreens.

Not only are they delicious, but it turns out that microgreens are a nutrient powerhouse. It's almost as if the microgreens are a concentrated version of their adult selves. In general, microgreens contain considerably higher levels of vitamins and carotenoids—about five times greater—than their mature plant counterparts.

Microgreens are simple to grow, and provide a quick harvest for not much work. They can be added to salads, sandwiches, stir-fries or rice bowls. Dress microgreens with a simple vinaigrette. Use them as a topping for a sandwich. Add them to an omelet. Use as a garnish on soup, pizza, or in place of lettuce in tacos. Drop a bunch into smoothies.

There is not some special plant out there called microgreens. Microgreens are basically the first stage of the growth of a plant. You can grow a wide variety of different types of greens, vegetables and herbs with many different flavors, from the spiciness of radish and arugula microgreens, to the nuttiness of clover or sunflower micros. Here are a few types of plants you might want to try:

Alfalfa
Arugula
Basil
Beet
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cauliflower
Celery
Clover
Collards
Flax
Kale
Kohlrabi
Lettuce
Mustard
Radish
Snow Peas
Sunflower

How to Grow Microgreens at Home

microgreens2Start with a plastic container with a lid, like the ones from take-out, or blueberries or raspberries containers. If there are no holes in the bottom, you will have to make 5-9 depending on the size of the container, using an awl, a knife, or a pair of scissors. Fill the container with dampened potting mix leaving about 1 inch from the soil surface to the rim of the container and smooth the soil. Scatter the seeds generously and evenly on the surface and cover with a light dusting of dry potting soil. Pat the top of the soil gently to be sure the seeds make good contact with the soil, but be careful not to compact it. Mist with water to dampen this top layer of soil and close the lid to help keep the soil moist until your microgreens germinate.

Place your container in a spot where it will get at least four hours of sunlight. Do not let the soil dry out. The soil should be kept moist but not soaked. A spray bottle is great tool for watering the soil at this stage.

As soon as you see the tiniest bit of green, open the lid to increase air flow. Once the seeds have germinated and grown small roots, you can bottom water your container by placing it in a wide but shallow, water-filled container and allowing the water to absorb through the drain holes in the bottom. When it is moist (but not wet) remove your microgreens and drain off any excess water. It is important that your micros never sit in a pool of water.

You can harvest your microgreens when they've developed their first set of true leaves. The first leaves to appear are seed leaves and don't look anything like the actual leaves of the plant. The next leaves, which generally appear about ten days to two weeks after planting, are the true leaves. To harvest, simply snip the microgreens just above soil level with a pair of scissors and enjoy!