Have you been to a restaurant and ordered salads or starters and noticed mini colourful leaves mixed in or used as garnishes?
They are microgreens. I came across this term earlier this year and started reading about it and then tried growing them in my home.
Wikipedia defines Microgreens as ‘young vegetable green’ or more like tender shoots of plants before the first set of proper leaves have developed. Microgreens are nutrient rich and flavour-packed mini versions of full grown vegetables/salads. Microgreens have a wide amount of flavour profile. Some are fruity, sweet, earthy and spicy. This depends upon the type of seed you have used.
Benefits of Microgreens
- Health Benefits: Microgreens are considered to have 40% more nutritious than the healthy grownup counterparts. Study on microgreens showed that they contained considerably higher levels of vitamins and carotenoids—about five times greater—than their mature plant counterparts. They are full of flavour and delicious. E.g. Red Cabbage Microgreens have 40 times more Vitamin E and 6 times more Vitamin C of mature Cabbage.
- Cost Effective: Very Easy to grow. You do not need a huge garden or balcony area or huge pots to grow microgreens. They can be easily grown in small seed trays, take out containers (plastic or aluminium).
- Grown all year long: Microgreens can be grown year long inside the house near a window sill or using small in grow lights. Even during winters, microgreens can be grown indoors in a south-facing windowsill or using grow lights. The best part is that we can easily harvest microgreens within one or two weeks depending on the seed.
Microgreens that can be grown
Any leafy vegetable or salad crop can be grown as microgreens. Flavour of microgreen can vary from mild to spicy, sweet to earthy and also peppery.
- Basil (green or purple)
- Amaranth (Red / Green)
- Fenugreek (Methi)
How to Grow Microgreens
Microgreens do not require lots of space or new special equipment.
- Containers: plastic, styrofoam or aluminium seed trays or small pots. Make sure it has proper water drainage by poking holes into the bottom.
- Compost or soil: Organic compost or seed growing soil mix can be used. I use my usual vegetable compost for growing microgreens
- Seeds: I usually buy them in the Migros, OBI or Coop gardening sections. Ikea now has a good selection of seeds too, which can be used for growing microgreens. http://www.ikea.com/ch/de/catalog/products/10319521/
Always read the seed packet for any special instructions or to know the germination time. Usually, they vary between 7 to 14 days.
Step 1: Fill the container with one or two inches or compost. Compress the soil lightly. Microgreens can be also grown without soil using a sterilized kitchen towel. I have never tried this though.
Step 2: Slightly sprinkle some water on soil
Step 3: Sprinkle the seed thickly on the soil. Press gently press the soil using your hand. I like to cover the seeds on the top with little soil. Not much but just to cover the seeds.
Step 4: Sprinkle with water. Do not douse the container with a lot of water. Do make sure the soil is always moist. Seeds only germinate properly the when soil is moist.
Step 5: Cover the container/pot with board or plastic until the seeds germinate. Sprinkle water or mist the soil once or twice a day to the keep soil moist. Microgreens need about 4 hours of sunlight or so. They can grow outdoor in the garden but under shade.
Step 6: Harvesting Microgreens: Depending upon the seeds selected they would be ready to harvest in a week to 2 weeks time. Most microgreens can be harvested after the second leaves emerge and get big. You can cut the microgreens using good scissors and cut them above the soil. I also sometimes just remove them from roots and cut the microgreens. Wash them and dry them with a paper towel.
Use of Microgreens
- Salad – Microgreens can be added to any salad as a garnish on top or we can make salads just with Microgreens. Mixed microgreens with lime vinaigrette.
- Sandwiches – Microgreens (Mixed or just one type) can be used instead of salad leaves in Sandwiches to pack a punch of flavour.
- Garnishes for soup – Garnish Pumpkin soup or Tomato soup with Basil or other microgreens
- Main dishes – Burgers, fajitas, omelettes
- Green juices – Sometimes I use microgreens instead of lettuce or spinach leaves along with banana, walnuts, greek yoghurt and berries to make a healthy green smoothie.
About the contributor: Sriprabha has been living in Switzerland for almost 10 years and hails from an IT background. Since the last few years, Sriprabha has decided to be a stay-at-home mother to spend more time with her son and pursue her hobbies that include working in a small garden and experimenting with different DIY artefacts for family and friends.