Microgreens are the immature green leaves of several different food plants, like radishes, spinach, kale, and broccoli. These tiny leaves contain more vitamins and nutrition than the full-sized plant leaves and are used in fresh salads, stir fry, and stew recipes. Microgreens are easy to grow indoors and can be grown year-round in a very small space. This is also a fun and rewarding indoor project to do with your children. Growing microgreens indoors is a great way to save money. There are many benefits to growing these tiny plants including better health and increased nutritional value. This article will give you the basics on how to grow microgreens indoors.
Are Microgreens the same as Sprouts?
A bit of explanation is in order. When plants first sprout from seeds, they are called sprouts. After a couple of weeks, those sprouts turn into microgreens. And when they have become a bit older, those microgreens are then called baby greens. Aside from the technical terms, they are all just the same plant, albeit in the early stages of growth.
Shallow Tray and Potting Soil
Prepare a tray or container for growing your microgreens. Microgreens have very shallow roots and therefore, the tray or container only needs to be around 1-2-inches deep. Fill the tray almost to the top with potting soil and lightly mist the soil with water. A spray bottle should come in handy for this purpose. Since you are not growing the microgreens for the long term, a simple tray without any drainage holes will suffice (of course, make sure not to overwater).
Select some of your favorite leafy green vegetables to grow as microgreens, but expect the flavor to be more intense than you’re used to. Basil, broccoli, beet, cabbage, cilantro, cress, carrot, endive, kale, lettuce, peas, radish, and spinach are some of the popular garden plants that are ideal for growing indoors as microgreens.
How to Plant the Seed Tray
Sprinkle seeds on top of the damp soil, planting them densely if possible, then cover seeds with a light sprinkling of potting soil. Mist the top of soil with water once again, and then wrap the tray with plastic wrap. Place the tray in a bright location that is not in direct sunlight. In 3-10 days (depending on what you planted) the seeds will germinate, and as soon as green sprouts are visible, remove the plastic wrap. Remember, these are still sprouts, not microgreens – so don’t harvest them yet unless you are after the sprouts instead!
The growing location must remain warm and bright during the daytime and not dip below 50 degrees F° or 10° Celsius during the night. The microgreen seed tray needs to be kept away from exterior doors and heating vents so the tiny plants won’t be exposed to sudden cold drafts. A mini greenhouse also works fine. This post on seed starting has a lot more detail for you regarding sprouting seeds.
Keep the seed tray in a bright location and keep the soil moist at all times. Direct sunlight is too intense for the tiny plants but they do need several hours of light exposure every day. A grow light can be used to supplement the natural sunlight if needed.
After 10-14 days after initial sprouting, the microgreens should be ready for harvest. Snip or pinch off the leaves any time after they are 2-inches tall. Some microgreens will re-grow, like peas, but most plants are done growing after the leaves are harvested.
Sprinkle new seeds on top of the soil after harvesting to keep a continual supply of microgreens growing.
In summary, growing microgreens is really not much different from seed starting, except that you let the baby plants grow a bit longer before you decide what to do with them. Growing microgreens indoors might just turn out to be the ideal form of gardening for urban people who want to indulge that green thumb while not getting their hands dirty. Plus, you can grow microgreens, even in winter!
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