Microgreens are herbs and leafy vegetables that are harvested young when they're still very small — they are approximately an inch tall when harvested. Microgreens are a trending grocery staple that can be added to salads, sandwiches, or even stir-fries. There is quite a bit of variety when it comes to microgreens, as any of these types of vegetables harvested early can be given this classification. This quick-growing food can be ready to eat in as little as three weeks and has plenty of health benefits.
Microgreens can be grown almost anywhere, including outside in a garden bed, or in a container indoors. If being planted outside, the soil should be loose and raked smooth. The seed mix should be scattered approximately 1/8 to 1/4 inches apart. Once scattered, cover the seeds with 1/8 inch of soil.
When growing microgreens in a container, make sure to choose a pot that is at least 2 inches deep. You'll plant the seeds the exact same way.
Microgreens do not take up much room. A container can be any diameter, as long as it is at least 2 inches deep. Many microgreen growers use racks within a greenhouse to maximize vertical space when growing multiple plants at one time.
At the very least, microgreens need four hours of sunlight a day. In the winter season, when the sun isn't that strong, your plants may need more. If you're growing indoors, a south-facing window is recommended, but eastern or western orientation will work as well. A pale and spindly plant is a likely sign that the leaves are not getting enough daily sunlight.
Microgreens should be watered gently, and the soil shouldn't be allowed to dry out — daily watering is usually the recommendation. You can use a watering can, but microgreens are fragile and may benefit from a sprayer more. A mist is ideal, as it will still water your microgreens, but prevent overwatering or flattening the tiny plants. Always weed the area so that the baby greens do not have to compete for water and essential nutrients.
It is not very common to get pests when microgreens are grown indoors, but bugs may find your plants, indoors or out. The most common pest is plant lice, and they will cause the leaves to deform and turn yellow in color. Neem oil or insecticidal soap is typically used to control plant lice. You can also use the home remedy of water and a few drops of dish soap to stop the infestation.
The most common diseases that can harm microgreens are Botrytis and damping off. Botrytis is a fungus that creates grey mold on the leaves and thrives in wet conditions. Experts recommend removing the affected parts of the plant and hold off watering the plant at night. To prevent botrytis, make sure the water is touching only the soil, not the fragile leaves.
Damping off also occurs when there is an abundance of moisture. This typically means the soil is too wet; the plant may suddenly wilt and die off. This can be prevented by avoiding overwatering and keeping good air circulation around your greens.
Because microgreens grow and are harvested so quickly, it may be easier or necessary to start from scratch if your plants are overcome by one of these diseases.
Microgreens do not require any special care, but you can take steps to help them thrive. When selecting a container for your seeds, a pot with drainage holes will prevent the tender roots from sitting in any excess water. It is also best to use a seed starting mix as soil to encourage the tiny sprouts to grow. Lastly, because microgreens already grow so quickly, it is best to skip fertilizer.
Microgreens are typically harvested and consumed soon after, so they are not often propagated. However, the stems of the greens can be placed in water to allow roots to grow. Soon after, new leaves will form. When microgreens are harvested, many types, such as peas and kale, can be regrown and cut multiple times.
The best time to harvest your microgreens is during the early morning or late evening hours when they are more likely to be fresh and healthy. The leaves should be cut at a minimum of one inch above the soil, but can also be as tall as four inches. After trimming, rinse your microgreens to remove any unwanted soil before adding them to salads or other recipes.
Microgreens are packed with nutrients including potassium, zinc, iron, magnesium, and copper. Research has also shown that they contain a wider variety of antioxidants than a mature crop of the same species. Consuming microgreens can help with a variety of health problems, from reducing the risk of heart disease and fighting against cancer to improving the immune system and eyesight, and even reducing constipation.