words and photo by Melinda Myers
Dress up your salads, sandwiches and snacks by growing microgreens. These mini sprouts are easy to grow, ready to harvest in less than two weeks and require no special growing equipment.
Simply purchase seeds labeled for growing microgreens or organic sprouts such as sunflowers, kale, radish or cilantro. These are meant for this purpose and have not been treated with harmful chemicals.
Radish microgreens add a bit of zip to salads and sandwiches. Cilantro microgreens have a similar, but much milder taste than leaves harvested from a mature plant. Kids of all ages love sunflower sprouts. They have a nutty flavor and make a tasty snack when eaten alone.
Equipment for growing microgreens
Sprout seeds in a shallow container with drainage holes. You can purchase sprouting containers or make your own from clean repurposed fast-food containers. Just punch holes in the bottom for drainage. Use the clear tops to create a mini greenhouse, helping retain heat and moisture to speed sprouting.
Fill the container with a quality seed starting mix like Hsu Germination+ organic seed starting mix that retains moisture and contains naturally occurring beneficial soil microbes. Leave about half an inch of space between the lip of the container and the seed starting mix.
Sowing microgreens seeds
Sprinkle seeds over the soil surface and lightly press them into the soil. Water seeds in place with a very gentle stream of water or spray bottle. Cover the planted container to increase humidity and speed sprouting. Place in a warm dark location.
Once the greens break through the soil, remove the cover and move the container to a sunny location or under artificial lights. Water often enough to keep the seed starting mix moist, but not too wet.
How and when to harvest microgreens
The microgreens are ready to harvest once they form a set of true leaves that look like those of the plants you are sprouting. This takes about 10 to 14 days and your microgreens will be about two inches tall.
Use a sharp pair of scissors to cut the greens just above the soil surface. Rinse thoroughly right before serving. Store any extra unwashed greens in a ventilated plastic bag for several days in the refrigerator.
Once you find out how easy growing microgreens is and how tasty they are to eat, you’ll want to plant more. For a continual supply of this nutritious treat, simply plant a new batch every four or five days and enjoy!
Melinda Myers has written more than 20 gardening books, including The Midwest Gardener’s Handbook and Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything: Food Gardening For Everyone” DVD set and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio segments. Myers is a columnist and contributing editor for Birds & Blooms magazine and was commissioned by Hsu for her expertise to write this article. Myers’ website is www.MelindaMyers.com.