Microgreens are one of the easiest edibles to grow no matter how little space you have. Here’s how to grow and harvest microgreens in no time.
Microgreens are one of the easiest edibles to grow, no matter how little space you have. The young shoots are high in nutrients and while they may not fill you up, they add colour and flavour to salads and can be used as a cocktail garnish.
Microgreens vs Sprouts
While microgreens share commonalities with sprouts, there are main differences. Simply put, sprouts are germinated in water and eaten before the leaves have formed. Microgreens, the seedlings of some herbs and vegetables are planted in soil and harvested after their leaves form.
Growing microgreens is very easy. All you need is a little soil, seeds, a container, a water spray bottle and a spot that gets daylight. Once you’ve grown them for the first time, you’ll be doing it again as it’s so simple and they grow so fast. No wonder so many people have set up businesses and started microgreens. I have two trays by the window sill growing at different stages and it takes next to no effort to get a harvest.
You can grow microgreens in small plastic containers such as those that come with your berries, giving plastic a second usage. Simply line them with paper towel to stop the soil from leaching out while still providing drainage.
I’m reusing small terracotta pots that came with a dip. They have no holes and being glazed, it means water does not drain out so I make sure I don’t overwater and use a spray bottle.
How to Grow Microgreens
If you’re a beginner, the steps for growing microgreens are simple. Here’s what I do:
- Soak the seed in water overnight to assist in germination. This is particularly helpful for larger seeds.
- The next day, sift your potting mix to remove any large chunks.
- Fill your container with the sifted potting mix about 2-3cm deep. Moisten the soil using a water spray bottle. It should be moist but not soaking wet.
- Drain the water from the seeds, sprinkle them evenly on top of the soil and pat them down.
- Cover with 0.5cm of sifted potting mix and moisten using a water spray bottle.
- Cover with plastic wrap with holes punched in until the seeds sprout. You can also use a lid with holes punched into it but check what it says on the packet of seeds as some need light to germinate. Keep it moist, don’t overwater, or they can get mouldy.
- Place the container on a window sill that gets daylight. Once they have sprouted, remove the plastic wrap/lid.
- Add a weak liquid seaweed fertiliser to the water spray bottle to boost the nutrients in the microgreens. This is an optional step that admittedly I don’t always follow.
Microgreens Growing Tips
- When it comes to the soil, it’s best to use an organic potting mix which has the red Australian Standards tick. You can also use cocopeat but I haven’t tried it yet.
- Unlike sprouts, microgreens need sunlight to grow and a kitchen window sill that gets daylight is the ideal spot.
- As the shoots start to grow, they will lean towards the sun. Rotate your container by 180 degrees to keep them straight.
- Microgreens are best used straight away though they remain fresh for a couple of days.
- Harvest when they have true leaves by snipping with scissors at soil level. Don’t pull them out and disturb the roots.
- It’s best to have your soil flush with the top of your container to make it easy to snip with scissors.
- You can reuse a microgreen tray but first you need to remove the remaining roots and you may need to top up the soil.
- After a few uses, when a microgreen tray is finished, you can add it to the compost or put it in the green bin.
What Can I Grow as Microgreens
Many leafy greens and salad vegetables can be grown as microgreens. Black chia seeds, a variety of amaranth, red cabbage, sprouting celery, mustard greens, rocket, tatsoi, sprouting radish, watercress, bulls blood beetroot and red kale are all suitable to name a few. I’m currently growing black chia, amaranth red leaf, bulls blood beetroot and red kale microgreens.