As we all deal with the quarantine these days, many are wondering how to adjust their gardens. We know that some of you who typically have gardens have been unable or chose not to grow outside this spring. We want to help you out and show you that you can still grow your own salad greens, by growing microgreens!
A great alternative to growing your own lettuce, spinach, beets, and other leafy spring vegetables outdoors is growing microgreens, indoors. Microgreens are nothing more than miniature versions of lettuce, herbs, and other leafy veggies grown indoors and harvested when they are very young. Microgreens are easy to grow, to harvest, and to eat. Plus, they are nutritious and add both flavor and beauty to your salads, proteins, or almost any dish. Microgreens are beneficial because their nutritional value is concentrated in their small size, so they can often be higher in nutrition than more mature greens.
The most common plants to grow as microgreens are lettuce, kale, and spinach. To add a little more spice, you can add radish seeds, beets, or mustard. Indeed, almost any plant that is entirely edible from root to top is a good candidate for becoming an edible microgreen.
The steps for growing microgreens could not be easier. To begin, you will need:
- A container that holds a couple inches of soil, such as a shallow tray or even an egg carton
- Soil (Both compost or soil mix work for microgreens)
- Water (preferably delivered to the soil by a spray bottle)
- Most importantly, a strong source of light. Although we at Everybody Grows are growing microgreens under a grow light in a basement, they can also be grown in a windowsill with strong daily sunlight.
We recommend starting with some compost or reasonably rich soil. Because you will be harvesting the microgreens early in their growth, you only need an inch or two of soil since the roots needed to grow a mature plant are not necessary. We started with two containers, each the size of a large plate.
- Place the soil in your container. Lightly tamp the soil down and then moisten it with water. (This is where a spray bottle is handy).
- Then, lightly broadcast the seeds (scatter the seeds across the soil). We mix all the varieties beforehand and broadcast as evenly as we can. No need to press the seeds, which are often tiny, into the soil. Rather, distribute a light amount of soil on top and moisten this layer as well.
- The soil will need to be kept moist. We mist the soil twice a day, both morning and night.
The key is the light. As mentioned, we use a grow light, which we leave on 12-15 hours a day. In other words, we turn it on when we get out of bed and turn it off before bed. However, if you have a good source of sunlight (say, your kitchen window) simply place the tray or container on the window sill. The warmer the spot, the sooner your seeds will germinate. Remember not to let the soil dry out by spraying it with water twice a day.
Within several weeks, your tray should begin to be full and thriving.
To harvest, you simply take scissors and cut the greens you want to eat, leaving others to grow for the next day, or the day after. When you are finished with a tray of microgreens, you can compost the soil and repeat the process again. Some people choose to use the same soil (with a little bit added in) a few times. This works as long as you pick out all the roots from before. For a continuous supply, simply start a new tray of seeds each week!