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If you’re a frequent home chef, microgreens are a beautiful, flavorful, and nutritious garnish for your meals. You’ve probably seen microgreens popping up on menus of trendy restaurants, but have you considered growing them yourself to add to your homemade dishes? Below, learn more about the basics of microgreens, including different types of microgreens and how to grow microgreens at home.
Microgreens are the edible shoots and leaves of young plants. Instead of allowing a seed to grow into a mature plant, you can harvest microgreens as seedlings in a very short timeframe—often just seven to 21 days after germination. You can also learn how to grow microgreens indoors in a space- and energy-efficient way. Plus, by maintaining your microgreens inside, you can avoid the pests and weeds that come with a traditional outdoor garden.
Microgreens come in a variety of colors and textures—all from vegetables you probably recognize, like broccoli, celery, lettuce, onion, and dill. Microgreens are typically rich in nutrients, such as potassium, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
What Are the Different Types of Microgreens?
Almost all herbs and vegetables that you would grow for food can be harvested as microgreens. There are hundreds of different types of microgreens that span a variety of purposes and tastes. For example, some microgreens have a mild flavor that’s nutty or sweet, like broccoli, carrot, and cucumber. Others, like arugula, radish, and mustard, have a spicier flavor that can significantly boost the flavor profile of a dish. There are also several types of cabbage microgreens, like red cabbage and kale, that come in a variety of colors, from red to purple to white.
You can also grow some herbs as microgreens. Learning how to grow cilantro microgreens, for example, can give you the full flavor of cilantro without waiting for the plant to mature. Other herbs you can grow as microgreens include:
Some microgreen shoots are also good for eating on their own as a quick and healthy snack. These include:
However, there are a few vegetables and plants that aren’t a good option to harvest and consume as microgreens, such as those in the nightshades family, like tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and tobacco.
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Whether you want to learn how to grow sunflower microgreens or how to grow chia microgreens—or anything in between—you only need a few supplies and a couple of weeks. Here’s how to get started.
Step 1: Gather Your Supplies and Equipment
Learning how to grow microgreens at home is easier than you may think, and it doesn’t require many supplies or equipment. Here’s what you need:
- Seeds: Because microgreens have a short lifecycle, you will need a significant amount of seeds to get started. Sunflower shoots or radish microgreens are great options for beginners.
- Potting soil or a planting mat: Make sure to purchase indoor potting soil if you are planting indoor microgreens. This type of potting soil is typically heat-treated to kill pathogens and insects.
- Shallow tray with drainage holes: Alternatively, you can go without a planting media, like soil, and instead, learn how to grow microgreens hydroponically (or, in other words, how to grow microgreens without soil). This eliminates the risk of mold, which is hard to avoid when using soil.
- Light: This can come from a sunny window or an artificial LED light.
Step 2: Soak the Seeds
You can accelerate the germination process by soaking your seeds. Simply place them in a bowl, cover them with water, and let them soak for 24 hours. Then discard the water and give your seeds a good rinse.
Step 3: Plant the Seeds
If you are growing your microgreens hydroponically, nest the tray with drainage holes in the tray without holes. Spread your seeds evenly across the tray. (If you have small seeds that could fall through the drainage holes, lay down a paper towel first.) Add water until the seeds are partially submerged.
If you are using potting soil, spread a layer of the soil on a tray. Scatter your seeds on top, and then add another thin layer of soil.
For either method, place a damp cloth over the tray to keep the soil moist.
Step 4: Check Your Seeds Daily
Check your seeds on a daily basis to make sure they haven’t dried out and add water as necessary. Within a day or two, your seeds will begin to germinate. After about four to seven days, when the seeds have grown shoots and roots, remove the cloth. Continue watering as needed.
Step 5: Harvest the Microgreens
After a week or two, you will be able to harvest your microgreens. To harvest, grip the top of the microgreens and use a sharp knife or pair of scissors to cut the microgreens near the stems, at about the height of the tray’s edge.
If you want to save some microgreens for later, give them a good rinse and place them in a container in the refrigerator. They will stay good for about two weeks.
Step 6: Start Again
After you’ve fully harvested your microgreens, you’ll be left with a tangle of roots and seeds. You can bury this in a compost pile or patch of dirt. Then clean and sanitize the tray, and you will be ready to start growing a new batch of microgreens.
Do Microgreens Regrow After Cutting?
Very few types of microgreens regrow after you harvest them. For most varieties of microgreens, it’s best to remove the remaining roots and seeds from your tray and start from the beginning. Fortunately, you can grow a new harvest of microgreens in just a couple of weeks.
What’s the Best Place to Buy Seeds and Supplies?
You can purchase microgreens seeds from any reputable seed or garden supply vendor. However, because of the number of seeds you’ll need, the cost can quickly add up. So it’s also worth perusing the grocery store for possible seeds. For example, popcorn kernels, dry lentils, and dry beans can all be planted to grow microgreens—and are typically and inexpensively available in bulk at the grocery store. Seeds sold as bird feed, like sunflower seeds or millet, can also be used to grow microgreens.
What’s the Best Way to Enjoy Microgreens?
Microgreens are delicate, and heating or freezing them can destroy their natural flavors. Try eating them raw, as a garnish on a sandwich or piece of pizza, or in a salad. As far as the best types of microgreens for eating, radish shoots can add a nice kick to any dish, and pea shoots are substantial and sweet, making them the perfect base for a salad.
Learning how to grow microgreens inside is an easy and efficient way to grow a large amount of nutritious food. Microgreens aren’t just for garnishes—they can play a substantial role in sandwiches, salads, and soups. Plus, if you know any local types of restaurants that use microgreens, you may even be able to sell your product to them.
Either way, you’re only a couple of weeks away from delicious, nutritious greens—so what are you waiting for?
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