A few years ago, a wo-worker of mine gave me a microgreen growing kit as a goodbye present. Throughout the pandemic, we had exchanged a lot of garden rewards; she would give me microgreens in the the form of pea shoots, radish, mustard, and wheat grass, and I would give her basil, thyme, marjoram, and spearmint.
When I finally made the room to grow microgreens it in my tiny space, got to work and set up shop to grow pea shoots, which are my favorite microgreen variety!
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are the young, edible seedlings of vegetables and herbs that are harvested while they are quite young. They are typically 1.5″ to 3″ tall, and although they are usually harvested within seven to fourteen days after germination, the best time to harvest them is when their first set of leaves have developed.
Microgreens are colorful with tender yet crunchy textures, and their flavors are highly concentrated. They are grown in shallow amounts of soil (usually 3″ to 4″ deep).
Microgreens are nutritious and can easily be grown at home if they are unavailable at your local grocery store of farmer’s market.
Common microgreen varieties include:
- pea shoots
How to grow microgreens
1. Choose the right seeds: Many common vegetables and herbs can be grown as microgreens, including kale, radish, broccoli, arugula, basil, and cilantro. Ensure that the seeds you choose are organic, untreated, and specifically labeled for microgreen cultivation.
2. Prepare the growing medium or soil: Use potting soil specifically formulated for growing microgreens or a peat based mixed such as peat moss or coco peat mixed with vermiculite and perlite. The soil must be well draining. Fill a shallow tray or container with the growing medium and leave about an inch of space from the top to allow for watering.
3. Sow the seeds: Evenly spread the seeds over the prepared growing medium, aiming for about 10 to 20 seeds per square inch. Gently press the seeds into the soil to ensure good contact. For the best results, pre-soak the seeds in water for three hours before planting; this will improve germination rates.
4. Provide optimal growing conditions: Microgreens grow best in a warm and well-lit environment. Place the tray in a location that receives plenty of indirect sunlight, or use growing lights. The temperature should be between 60-75°F (15-24°C) for the best growth. Lightly water the tray or use a spray bottle to keep the soil moist, ensuring it remains consistently damp, but not waterlogged.
5. Caring for microgreens: Avoid watering directly on top of the microgreens, instead opting for a spray bottle. It is important to keep the soil moist, and not saturated or dry. Ensure good airflow in the growing area to prevent mold or fungal growth. Some gardeners use a small fan for air circulation. Personally, I grow my microgreens outside, so this makes maintaining air flow easier.
6. Harvesting microgreens: Microgreens are typically ready to harvest within 1-3 weeks, depending on the variety. Harvesting time varies, but as a general rule, once the first set of true leaves appears, they are ready for harvest. To harvest, use a pair of sharp scissors and snip the microgreens just above the soil line. Rinse them gently to remove any soil particles and pat them dry before using or storing.
7. Storing and enjoying microgreens: To extend the shelf life, store your freshly harvested microgreens in a container lined with paper towels or a clean kitchen towel. Place them in the refrigerator and use within a week for the best flavor and nutritional value. Add microgreens to salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, or use them as a garnish in your dishes.
8. Compost the soil and clippings: when you are done harvesting your microgreens, compost the soil and clippings and start again!
My Pea Shoots
My pea shoots grew a little taller than I was supposed to allow, but they still ended up beautiful, delicious, sweet, and crunchy. I recently made them with my Pollock and Henbit Deadnettle Salad, Chicken Caesar Salad, and chopped for breakfast with Eggs in Purgatory with Fresh Herbs.
This was such a successful endeavor, that I will be trying other microgreen varieties.
Great idea to grow your own. Microgreens are hard to find and very expensive.
Thank you! And, yes, they are crazy expensive! I had so many that I had a tough time finishing them all!
How cool that I stumbled upon this while considering to start my own home garden next month. I’ll try growing microgreens in addition to peppers and tomatoes 😀
Yay! Please do! They’re really easy to set up. And they taste wonderful. 😋
Ages ago I grew my own alfalfa sprouts, but I had not heard of microgreens. Good lesson. Where do you get your seeds? There must be a cheaper source than the little packets intended for growing full grown plants.
I got mine from one of my friends, but you can buy them in bulk here: https://www.trueleafmarket.com/products/broccoli-waltham-29-microgreens-seeds or even from Amazon. I would definitely get seeds from a source that sells them in bulk, specifically for micro green cultivation. It’s a whole lot cheaper.