Microgreens–regular plants that are harvested before they reach full maturity–are becoming a trendy alternative to full sized leaves in many dishes, soups, drinks, jellies, syrups, and salads. As consumers continue to develop more deliciously innovative uses for these petite greens, many wonder how to grow microgreens and what sets them apart from their full-sized relatives. It takes a successful gardener with lots of expertise to provide the care that growing microgreens require. With that in mind, here is a window into the process of how to grow microgreens.
Selecting the Seeds
Many different varieties of plants can be grown as microgreens including mustard, amaranth, cabbage, arugula, cress and chard. Contrary to some beliefs, the seeds used to grow microgreens are no different than the seeds used to grow the regular, full-sized plants. Depending on the variety of the plant, microgreens differ in the amount of time each seed takes to germinate. Seeds from plants with similar rates of growth may be combined and grown together depending on the preferences of the grower.
Microgreens are planted in soil, or a fibrous soil substitute such as peat moss. They are not processed in water. Most microgreens need several hours of direct sunlight a day. Sprouts are typically seen within the first week after planting.
While microgreens are harvested when they are still technically seedlings, the size and age at which they are harvested depends on the variety. Different plant varieties will grow unique leaf configurations, and the size of the leaves when they are ready to harvest also is dependent on the plant species.
Microgreens can be bought for use from specialty food distributors and directly from growers. For the freshest possible taste, some microgreens can be bought while they are still rooted in soil or soil substitute. These plants will continue to grow until they are purchased and cut immediately before their use by the consumer. This insures the least possible wilting will take place and the taste will stay fresh and vibrant. Because of the special care taken by growers to produce and distribute microgreens, they may be a little on the pricey side when purchased as fresh produce. Luckilly, some growers offer to ship bulk orders of frozen microgreens directly to the homes of their customers.
Cooking with Microgreens
Like regular plants, microgreens can be ingested raw or cooked into dishes. If you are new to microgreens, first try them in a lightly-dressed salad so you can get a feel for their flavor and texture. If your first experience is successful, you will begin to find many new ways to use them. From toppings on savory dishes like meatloaf, thrown in at the last minute in a stir fry, or adding a little crunch to a sandwich, adding microgreens to everyday food can help you get more servings of fresh vegetables into your daily diet.
If you have any other suggestions on how to grow microgreens or interesting recipes for microgreens, please share your comments.