Growing Microgreens Indoors and in Winter

No matter the season, you can have something that you’ve grown on your plate – microgreens! Growing microgreens is easy, quick and satisfying for the off-season gardener. The greens add a nutritious touch of freshness to salads and sandwiches and growing microgreens is a fun project with children.

Microgreens usually go from seed to plate in three to four weeks, so you can set up a succession of greens easily by planting a new batch every week or so. You can grow microgreens using seeds from almost any vegetable or herb: lettuces, radishes, broccoli, beets, basil, kale, even peas. It’s a great way to use leftover seeds from the past season’s garden. Or, you can buy seed mixes especially for microgreens.

 

tray of greens

From germination to a full tray took just five days for this batch of microgreens.

Easy Set Up

For my first try at growing microgreens, I used two different packs of microgreen seed mix from Botanical Interests. In addition to the seeds, you will need shallow trays and seed starting or potting mix. It also helps to have a spray bottle filled with water to water the seeds gently.

I used two leftover trays from the grocery store deli as my containers. I poked holes in the bottom of each tray for drainage and lined them with paper towels. Once your trays are prepped, lightly dampen your seed starting or potting mix and placed about an inch of that in the tray. If you are planting larger seeds such as peas, you’ll need more soil. Don’t pack the soil down too much as you want the small seeds to easily germinate and take root.

Then, sprinkle the seeds in a dense, single layer over the soil and lightly press them to make sure they are in contact with the mix. You don’t have to worry about overcrowding, because you’ll be harvesting long before that would be a concern. Add another quarter inch or so of soil on top of the seeds, spritz them with the water bottle to dampen everything, then place them in a sunny spot. I have a table in my sunroom, so that was the ideal place to put the seed trays. If you don’t have a sunny spot in your home, growing microgreens under a grow light is another option. Continue to spritz the seeds once or twice a day and wait.

 

They’re Growing!

 In a few days to a week, you’ll see tiny plants emerging. Continue spritzing the seeds with water once or twice a day as they grow. The microgreens are ready for harvest when the first set of true leaves develop.

Note: The first leaves coming off a germinating seed are called cotyledons. These are part of the embryo within the seed of the plant. After the plant has grown awhile, it develops its “true leaves,” which are above the cotyledons.

In a couple of weeks, your microgreens patch should be thick with tasty greens. To harvest them, use a clean scissors or kitchen shears and cut them off above the soil. Rinse the greens and add them to your favorite salad. Some microgreens will re-grow after harvesting, but it’s easy to just start another tray.

Microgreens are best eaten soon after harvest and raw. I’m excited to try this recipe for microgreens with a strawberry-lime vinaigrette.

 

Mary Lahr Schier is a freelance garden writer and speaker and recently retired as editor of Northern Gardener® magazine. Follow Mary on Instagram at @mynortherngarden_mary.

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