25 Mar, 2020

Getting started with microgreens


Microgreens are the “saucer on a windowsill” herbs and leafy greens that have risen to fame as petite garnishes on the plates of celebrity chefs like Curtis Stone.

While they’re now stocked at some farmer’s markets and food stores, they’re tastier and more nutritious when grown at home and harvested just before serving.

Fortunately, microgreens are easy to grow and the perfect starter crop for anyone wanting to test out their green thumb.

What are microgreens?

Microgreens are small plant seedlings, taller and more mature than sprouts, and not quite as developed as the baby leaf salad greens found in the supermarket.

Despite their miniature size, microgreens pack a surprising punch in the flavour department, ranging from mild to an intense taste depending on the variety.

A huge range of leafy greens and herbs can be grown as microgreens so there is something to appease all taste buds:

  • Mild flavour: basil, coriander, chives, parsley, spinach, sunflower shoots
  • Spicy flavour: radish, rocket, fennel, cabbage, buckwheat, mizuna

These young plants are grown in soil rather than water, in sunlight or a well-lit indoor location. They have more leaves and a stronger flavour than sprouts, and are harvested with scissors just above the soil.

Microgreens grow quickly, especially in humid conditions, so you’ll have delicious fresh miniature greens on your plate in one to three weeks.

Miniature gardening for beginners

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, chances are you will succeed with these little babies. They’re super easy and inexpensive to grow, and you don’t need much space or equipment to get started.

Growing microgreens is an ideal introduction to gardening for beginner gardeners or children because they shoot so quickly. There’s generally something new to see each day whether it be sprouting seeds, roots forming or new leaves growing, which tends to keep children interested. And it’s a sneaky strategy to get more colour and nutrients on their plates!

The easiest option for people who want to try growing microgreens is to sow seeds in seed raising mix in a shallow strawberry or food grade punnet with a lid. For larger quantities, dedicated microgreens trays can be purchased.

Equipment needed to get started:

  • Organic, untreated seeds (see notes below)
  • A food grade tray with drainage holes eg. a strawberry punnet (think lightweight and shallow)
  • Quality seed raising mix
  • Scissors
  • Cloth, paper towel or clear plastic such as a shower cap to cover the seeds until they are well sprouted
  • A spray bottle for watering
  • A bench top, windowsill or balcony with good natural light

If you have the urge to get planting, check out microgreen and small space gardening specialist, Anne Gibson’s Easy Guide to Growing Microgreens.

Anne’s top five tips for getting started:

  1. Use certified organic, chemical-free seeds, or those labelled for sprouting and microgreens. MIcrogreens seeds can be a little hard to source at the moment. Try your local health food store, garden centre or Eden Seeds.
  2. Try a few varieties to taste test so you can discover flavours you like to eat
  3. Sow seeds every week or two for a continuous supply
  4. Save money by recycling plastic punnets instead of buying new trays or pots
  5. Use a quality, chemical-free, seed raising mix

By following these tips and the guide from Anne’s website, you’ll be growing your own tasty microgreens in just a little over a week.

For inspiration on how to use microgreens in your kitchen, check out Creative Meals with microgreens

Thanks to The Micro Gardener, Anne Gibson for sharing her knowledge and expertise for this article.

The Micro Gardener site contains a wealth of information about microgreens, small space gardening and living more sustainably.

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