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How to Grow Shoots and Microgreens Indoors

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As a food gardener—and a mother—I’m always looking for ways to boost my family’s vegetable intake. Kale popsicles, anyone? Okay, that was a hard sell, but offering shoots and microgreens is a fun and easy way to grow vegetables in the winter.

Shoots are grown in soil. They're ready to use once they get their first set of true leaves (the pair that appears after the initial seed leaves).

Shoots are grown in soil. They're ready to use once they get their first set of true leaves (the pair that appears after the initial seed leaves).

Unlike sprouts, which are grown in jars or containers without a medium, shoots and microgreens are grown in soil. 

Shoots are very young plants that are harvested when they get their first true leaves, about five days to two weeks after planting. We use them to add a nutritional punch to pastas, wraps, sandwiches and salads. 

Microgreens, on the other hand, are baby salad greens that, depending on the species, take about two to four weeks to reach a harvestable size.

To grow shoots and microgreens, first find a shallow container—like a seeding tray or old salad tub—and add an inch or two of moist potting soil. Then sow the seeds thickly. 

For shoots, sow different varieties in their own containers, because they will mature at different times. We love sunflower, pea, radish or broccoli shoots. 

For microgreens, use a seed mix, like the ‘Mild Micro Mix’ from Johnny’s Selected Seeds, or sow varieties individually. My top picks include arugula, ‘Red Russian’ kale, ‘Green Wave’ mustard and ‘Bright Lights’ chard.

Place the containers in a sunny window or under grow lights and keep the soil evenly moist. Scissor clip when the plants reach a harvestable size, and enjoy!