Microgreens are simply greens that are harvested when they are quite young—generally when they are approximately an inch or two tall. These little greens pack a flavorful punch and can be added to salads, sandwiches, or stir-fries. Experiment with different mixes, adding the varieties you like best. If you have shopped for microgreens, then you know they are not cheap. The good news is it's easy to grow microgreens, indoors or outside. They grow well in garden beds or containers. And they provide you with a quick harvest for not much work.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are simply the seedlings of edible greens, including vegetables and herbs, harvested when they are very young—approximately an inch or two tall.
Why Grow Your Own Microgreens?
Growing microgreens is a great gardening project for beginners and it's fun to watch them peek up from the soil. Kids will enjoy helping and watching them grow, too. While you can find these tasty morsels in the grocery store or markets, they can be expensive to buy and these packaged greens don't last very long in the fridge. Microgreens are easy to grow and take up a little space, such as a window sill, and you can just simply snip off what you want to use and have it fresh right from your own garden.
What Can You Grow as a Microgreen?
You can grow any salad green or herb as a microgreen. It's easy to start with a pre-packaged seed mix, and there are even specific microgreen mixes.
Here are a few popular varieties to grow as microgreens:
- Beet greens
- Radish greens
- Lettuce (any)
Before Getting Started
Begin by deciding what you want to plant for microgreens. If you're a beginner, you might want to select one or two types of seeds first. Some thoughts for choices include broccoli, lettuce, radish, cauliflower, spinach, basil, or cilantro, and try your hand at growing some microgreens. You might even find a seed mixture of microgreens on your search. Next, you'll select the area and containers you will plant them in. Make sure to choose a nice sunny spot (but not too sunny) for them to grow. Then determine the growing medium, aka soil, you want to use. An even mixture of potting soil and peat moss can help hold the moisture in the soil, or a seed starting mix also works well.
Equipment / Tools
- Planting tray or small pots, or garden bed
- Small trowel or garden rake
- Sharp knife or scissors
- Growing Medium (Potting Soil/Peat Moss/Seed Starting Mix)
Microgreens are very easy to grow. You can grow them in the ground, in a raised garden bed, or in a container outdoors or inside on a sunny windowsill.
Planting Microgreens in a Raised Garden Bed
Prepare the Garden Bed
Prepare the garden bed with your choice of growing medium. This can include a seed starting mix, potting soil, or a mix of potting soil and peat moss. Make sure to leave room to put a thin layer of soil on top after planting the seeds. Loosen the soil and rake it smooth.
Scatter Seed Mix
Scatter your seed mix on the soil so that the seeds are about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch apart. Remember, you'll harvest them very young, so they don't need a lot of room.
Cover Seeds and Water
Once the seeds are scattered over the area, cover them with about 1/8 inch of soil. Water with the spray bottle or mister to evenly moisten the soil.
Planting Microgreens in a Container
Select and Prepare Container
Choose a pot that is at least 2-inches deep and as large in diameter as you want. Fill it with a good quality organic potting mix, and smooth the soil.
Scatter the seeds so that they are about 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart, and cover with 1/8 inch of soil.
Water and Container Placement
Water with a spray bottle or mister to moisten the soil, and place your container in a spot where it will get at least four hours of sunlight. For indoor growth, a south-facing window is best, but an east- or west-facing one will do as well.
Care and Maintenance
Don't let the soil dry out. Mist daily, keeping the soil moist but not wet. You should see sprouts popping up in about three to seven days. Remove any weeds that pop up, so the tiny greens don't have to compete with them for water and nutrients. If you have rich soil in your garden bed, you won't need to fertilize. For containers, mixing in a bit of granular organic fertilizer to the soil before you plant is ideal if your potting mix doesn't already contain fertilizer.
Microgreens grow for such a short period that they are rarely bothered by pests and diseases. However, if you are growing brassicas in your mix (mustard, kale, etc.), and cabbage worms are a problem, consider adding a floating row cover to protect them.
The first leaves you'll see are seed leaves. They don't look anything like the actual leaves of the plant. The best time to harvest microgreens is when they've developed the first set of true leaves, about 10 days to two weeks after planting. To harvest, simply snip the microgreens just above the soil level.
You won't be able to get additional harvests from one planting of microgreens. Because the plants haven't had much time to develop—and you're snipping off everything except the very bottom of the stem—they have no way to generate new growth.
The good news is you can plant another crop after harvesting by simply scattering fresh seeds and covering them with soil. You don't even need to remove the old roots; they are good sources of organic matter.