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Microgreen Tutorial

Written by Carolyn on May 5th, 2011.      15 comments

microgreen selection 1

How to Grow Microgreens?

We know that some of you have been waiting very patiently for this microgreen tutorial.  Now is a great time to consider growing these delicious gourmet greens -   the weather outside might be a bit dismal and you might be starting to feel more inclined to curl  up on the couch with a gardening book than to brave the wind and rain, but you can grow microgreens indoors and still have fresh, delicious and healthy salad greens literally at your fingertips!

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What are Microgreens ?  They are tiny edible greens grown from vegetable or herb seeds.  They are harvested when very young - just 1-2 inches long including the stem and leaves. Microgreens can have wonderfully clear, instense flavours and they are certainly a very pretty addition to your plate, with their delicate and often colourful  appearance. 

Microgreens are very easy to grow. You can grow them outside in a garden bed, in containers, or inside on a sunny windowsill.

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Microgreens can be grown in any shallow container with drainage.  You don't need a great depth of soil because you will be harvesting the plants when they are very young - about two inches of soil will be enough. Plastic trays from the garden centre will do, or you can punch drainage holes in the bottom of a shallow plastic food tray.  You may find having smaller containers allows you to plant more varieties or have microgreens at various stages of growing so that you can have a continual supply. 

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If you care about aesthetics, you can choose attractive containers  so that your microgreens can please the eye as well as the taste buds.  In the pictures below I have used a small bamboo steamer as a container. 

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Once you have chosen your container, fill it with good quality seed raising mix, to just below the rim.  Some microgreens are low growing and you will need room to cut them later.  You will soon learn which are low growing and which have more height. 

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Also, some microgreens, such as the Beet Rainbow Lights pictured here have the most beautifully coloured stems, so you will want to cut a long stem to make the most of these wonderful colours in your salads. 

If you are growing microgreens which have  a larger seed, such as peas, you could also try pumice or sawdust as a growing mediuum.  Larger seeds, and also beet seeds,  benefit from overnight soaking to speed germination. 

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Once you have filled your container, smooth the surface and press the mix down gently. 

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Sow your seeds by taking pinches of seed and sprinkling the seeds generously over the surface.  Larger seeds need to be sown quite thickly  - think  "shoulder to shoulder".

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You can cover the seeds by sifting a fine layer of soil over the seeds until they are just covered, or you can cover them with either a paper towel or piece of fabric - choose fabric that doesn't have loops that will catch on the seeds.  One purpose of covering the seeds is to ensure that they don't dry out - it can be easier to use a paper towel for this because you can see when the towel is drying out and can water straight away.    Using a squirty bottle to dampen down the towel works well.  If you use soil to cover the seeds you may have some lifted up by the seeds as they germinate and this will need to be removed or washed out of the microgreens before they are eaten.    If you use towel coverings you may be able to keep your microgreens cleaner and may not have to wash them after harvesting - see what works best for you! 

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Another reason to cover the tray with plastic is to deter your (or the neighbour's) cat from mistaking your wonderful new microgreen garden for a wonderful new kitty litter tray or a comfortable bed! 

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Water your tray or container either by soaking it in a shallow tray of water or by gentle overhead watering.  Do not let the soil dry out.  A plastic cover placed over the seed tray may help keep moisture in as well as cats out.  Remember to keep the tray out of direct sun at this stage.

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As the seeds germinate you will see them pushing out of the soil or lifting the paper towel.  To check progress you can peel a corner of the towel back - if the seeds are sticking to the towel, it is too early to remove it.  Keep the paper towel in place until the seeds have rooted themselves in the soil and then you can remove the paper towel. 

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Once the covering is removed, your microgreens need light to grow and can be placed either outside in a sheltered postition, or inside  near a window so they can get enough light.  Like most plants they will grow long and leggy  if they don't get enough light.

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Don't be concerned if your  microgreens appear to have grown some bizarre white fuzz on them.  This is a normal part of the root-forming process and will disappear after the first day or so. 

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Radish Rambo, ready for harvest.

 

Harvesting Microgreens

It is often said that the best time to harvest microgreens is when they have developed their first set of true leaves .  The first leaves that appear after germination are the seed leaves, or cotyledons.  The first "true leaves" often look quite different from the seed leaves.  You can, if you wish, harvest your microgreens at the cotyldon stage, harvest at first true leaf stage, or even let them grow on a little larger (the next stage up from microgreen is called Baby Leaf).  They are your microgreens, so use them as you wish!  Microgreens can be fun, convenient and can be cut as you require them - so delicious and so fresh!  Most microgreens will be ready for harvest about ten days to two weeks after planting.

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To harvest, simply snip the microgreens just above soil level.  You can harvest just what you need, but if you want to harvest more, they can be kept in a closed plastic container in the fridge and will keep for days . 

Microgreens are harvested only once - unlike mesclun, which can be a "cut and come again" crop, you won't be able to get additional harvests from one planting of microgreens. Because you are harvesting everything except the very bottom of the stem, the plant has no way to generate new growth.   You can compost your used seed raising mix .  


As you can probably tell, we are huge fans of microgreens and they are certainly proving to be popular.
If you are like me and absolutely love to read as much as possible, then here are a couple of books about growing microgreens that we have read and enjoyed : 

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Fionna Hill is a fellow kiwi who has written a book called "How to Grow Microgreens". 

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Another good book is by Eric Franks & Jasmine Richardson and is called "Microgreens - A Guide to Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens". 

microgreens in pots.jpgRemeber the old mustard and cress we used to grow on saucers of damp cotton wool when we were kids ....

....  they were microgreens ....

Your children or grandchildren might like to have a go at growing microgreens, - in an empty eggshell or any cute little container.  Microgreens  are good for those of us who find waiting difficult - not quite instant gratification but as close as you can get with gardening!

Thanks for taking the time to read this tutorial - we hope that you have enjoyed it and found it useful. 

Good luck with your microgreens!

Topics: microgreens
 

15 Comments

Bev says ...
This information has been submitted useful. My concerns about growing microgreen has been addressed. Clear and precise. Thank you.
Maya says ...
Thanks so much! I was getting concerned for a second about the white fuzz on my baby microgreens.
Leigh says ...
Im growing micro greens for the first time. they are in a tray with lid in my pantry under a grow light, there is no current irrigation, they're just in soil. They have taken on quite a fuzz... I have read that this is no problem, but they STINK!!! Should I throw this round out and start over?
Grace says ...
Really helpful.
Saw a tv clip on them and could wait to try them out.
Simple step by step guide...
Cheryl says ...
How do you stop the seeds adhering to the leaves?
cathy donaldson lowerhutt says ...
am awaiting my radish rambo seeds from Kings >>>.....cant wait to try this EXCELLENT INFORMATION KINGSEEDS THANKYOU SO MUCH >>>>>>>>>>>.....presuming one can have micro greens from ANY vege seed ..if organic ..I am already NUTS about sprouting ...one step further will give even MORe vittles and greens to a winter salad .I have a lot of difficulty growing kohl rabi ....been trying for years !>>> in 2010 i let one go to seed ...it grew so tall ( maybe1.5 metres ) and hundreds of seed pods ....so just tonight i decided to pop the seeds in a jar of water in the fridge and will try these as micro greens .i did not see them listed but did read on anothr site that kohl rabi can be an edible micro green .
Randal says ...
What a gorgeous cat!
Rona Taylor-Smith says ...
Good clear instructions, thank you. I'm off to pot up my mustard salad.
Louis says ...
I couldn't have done it without Fionna Hill's book on Microgreens. Have you seen the photography? I didn't realise there was such microgreen variety available in colour, texture and plant. I know plants are at their most nutritious at this stage of growth but I didn't think there would be enough 'substance '. I was completely wrong.
Carolyn says ...
Thank you for a great practical "how to". love the bit about using a paper towel for the germination process. Covering them this way overcomes the crunch from soil that i used to cover the seeds with
Audrey says ...
thanks for this. i grew my microgreens outside in a polystyrene box left over from some delivery we had. it was perfect until the cold weather hit. I am missing my microgreens and will try your method, inside during winter, growing them in decorative containers.
Joan says ...
Awesome just awesome thank you
Andrea says ...
What an awesome tutorial. This is so clear and concise, no questions left really. Thank you so much
Donna says ...
Thanks for your tutorial, most informative! Have just planted my first containers of microgreens...roll on harvesting time in 2-3 weeks!
Carol says ...
Thanks for this...it's just what we need at this time of year :)