Microgreens are becoming a really trendy food. Lots of high-end restaurants are now including salads made from micro greens on their menus and they are one of the “foodie” things to eat. I’ve never had them because we are not much for “fancy restaurants” and the prices for them at the stores are crazy. Microgreens are believed to exceed sprouts and baby greens in flavor and nutritional value. Microgreens can be used as salads, on sandwiches, and as garnish.
Our shortage of lettuce in the cold frames has prompted us to look for other sources of fresh veggies this year so we thought we would give them a try. I also have a huge back stock of lettuce seeds in my seed storage that needs to get used up. I started the first of our 2012 seedlings this weekend but there are still half of the lights not being used so I thought now would be a good time to give them a try.
This will be our first batch of Micro Greens so I’m not an expert yet. I did as much reading on the subject as I could but there’s not a lot of detail out there. Microgreens are supposed to be ready in about 2 weeks so I will try to do 3 posts, this one on how to get started, as second showing progress and a third with the final results.
Seeds for Microgreens
You can use just about any type of seeds to grow microgreens. Suggested seeds include lettuce, kale, cabbage, broccoli, sorrel, arugula, Chinese cabbages, mustards even radishes and onions. My favorite seed company is a local company called Mountain Valley Seeds. They have a great page that lists a bunch of varieties they have tested for micro greens (click here to see their page).
We choose to use up some older seeds for our first try at growing micro greens. I mixed three packages of seeds together. A mesclun mix (this one includes some kale, mustard, lettuce, and arugula) also a package of mixed lettuce seeds and some endive. I hope this will provide a fairly mild mix of greens, for our first try.
Containers for Microgreens
I have a small growing flat that we are going to use this time. It is about 6 x 12 inches and a couple of inches deep. It fits well inside a second large flat so that we can water by filling the second flat with water and letting the water soak up from the bottom. Really any container will work. I have seen lots of different plastic containers used, just be sure it has some holes in the bottom so you can have drainage.
We filled our container with a standard seedling mix potting soil. This is the same mix I have used for several years to start my seedlings. Because microgreens are harvested so early in the plants grow cycle fertilizer is not really important. The seed carries its own nutrients that the new plant survives on for quite a while. I think I may try watering them once with water that has a dilution of fish emulsion to provide some extra nitrogen. I think I will see how they do for a week or two before I try that.
I filled the flat with about an inch of soil that I pre-moistened with water. I then just spread the seed mixture across the soil. This is a really good project to get the little ones involved with. Precision is not really very important so little hands can help spread the seeds out. My 7-year-old daughter helped plant these and it will be fun for her (and me) to watch the microgreens grow. When the seeds are down cover them with a small amount of soil (about 1/8 inch) and then moisten the soil with a spray bottle.
I like to cover all of my seedlings with a layer of plastic wrap. This helps keep the moisture in the soil while the seeds are germinating. Once the seeds start to come up I remove the plastic to give them room to grow. If you are careful you can reuse the same piece of plastic wrap several times. Keeping the soil moist is very important as the seedlings are germinating. Be sure the soil doesn’t dry out, but you don’t want it to be soaking wet all the time either.
It is also important to have plenty of light for the emerging seedlings. I try to get the lights as close as I can to the plants. I’m not sure how this will work with micro greens. I may end up moving the microgreens up to the top shelf after they germinate. From all the pictures of micro greens, I have seen they seem to be a little “leggy”. I think that is part of the point so I may move them up where the plants can grow a little taller.
So there you have it, our first batch of microgreens is on the way. I’m excited to see how they do. This should provide us with another source of fresh greens during the dark winter months. I will keep you updated on the progress.