Learn how to grow microgreens with a simple, inexpensive method that can net you food for months! Plus, learn what vegetables can be enjoyed as microgreens – the answer may surprise you.
The word “microgreen” may remind you of health food stores and juice bars growing wheatgrass as a superfood for bodybuilders and health nuts. Or perhaps it makes you think of the tiny pea and beet shoots that decorate the minuscule chef’s creation at a 5-star restaurant.
Thankfully, they also don’t need to be reserved for juice bars and chefs! To me, however, microgreens are a weekly staple in my kitchen because they are both highly nutritious and delicious. Plus, they happen to be super easy to grow!
What are Microgreens?
Before we talk about how to grow them, what are microgreens exactly? Microgreens are essentially young vegetable seedlings that are produced after sprouts but before a fully-grown vegetable.
Microgreens vs Sprouts
People frequently confuse microgreens and sprouts, but there are some distinct differences between the two. One major difference is while microgreens have leaves (aka the greens!), while sprouts do not. Additionally, sprouts are grown without soil, while microgreens are grown within soil.
Think of it like this: a sprout is an infant vegetable and a microgreen is a toddler.
Additionally, it’s important to note that while microgreens have the reputation of being “safer” than sprouts, that isn’t necessarily true. All homegrown foods need proper care to be safe, including both sprouts and greens!
Interested in learning more about sprouts? Check out my post on how to grow sprouts!
How to Grow Microgreens
These nutritious treats are simple to grow. Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow microgreens!
How to Grow Microgreens in the Garden
If you’re a gardener, you’ve probably grown microgreens before, multiple times without even knowing it! They grow naturally as you plant a vegetable garden. Inevitably, the vegetable rows will need to be thinned and those thinning are a treat to eat!
For example, I had one year where my radishes were growing so well under the umbrella greenhouses I made that I had to thin them out frequently. Not one to throw away fresh greens, I made myself a lovely toast with the culled radish microgreens. They are delicious – spicy and colorful with a nice crunch!
How to Grow Microgreens Indoors
Today I want to share my easy and accessible way to grow microgreens at home, without a whole lot of fuss, special equipment, or time. I start with a salad box and add a layer of indoor seed starting mix.
Check for Food Safety
My system for growing microgreens is simple. You don’t need a ton of fancy equipment or time on your hands to do this! The most important thing you need to do is check to make sure your plastic salad box or container is food safe by checking the plastic number here before growing in it!
Choose the Best Seeds Possible
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: buy the best seeds you can afford and make sure they are from a trusted source. Not only will you likely have a better crop, but you can be assured that the greens grown are safe for human consumption.
Now it’s time to get growing! To start, add an inch of sterile soil to the bottom of the container, then spread your seeds over the top, without them overlapping with each other.
Add more soil on top of the seeds—just a little bit will do. Then, place your container’s lid on and put it in a warm place out of direct sunlight.
You’ll need to water the microgreens to keep it moist, but you do not want to overwater. If you do, you risk root rot and fungus growth.
Remove the lid a few times per day to let the seed get some fresh air and to keep humidity from getting too strong.
How to Harvest Microgreens
When growing microgreens like lettuce, kale, mustard, pac choi, peas, swiss chard and even sunflowers, you can grow the tray as microgreens first.
As you cut the microgreens down, it leaves more space for the leaves to turn into baby greens or spring salad mix. This means you can cut and come again—meaning you cut out sections and allow the roots to regrow the leaves.
You can also pluck out a few seedlings and plant them in the garden to grow to maturity. A tray of microgreens can feed your family for months!
I often take this approach in the spring with wine barrels, which is where I plant my lettuce mix under an umbrella greenhouse. With one planting, I can snip some microgreens to enjoy. In a week or so I come back and snip some baby greens to add to my salad, and then let others grow to maturity so I can enjoy a full head of lettuce as well!
Aren’t microgreens awesome?
What Microgreens Can I Grow?
It’s important to know that not every veggie can be grown as a microgreen. Here are some of the ones I recommend and enjoy the most! When in doubt, check with the seed manufacturer to make sure the seeds are safe to eat as microgreens.
- Green peas
- Linseed (flax)
- Mung beans
- Red clover
- Spelt berries
- Sunflower seeds
- Swiss chard
- Wheat grass
A Permanent Place to Grow Microgreens
If you get into growing these greens (like I am) and want to house them in a permanent location in your home, this indoor growing shelf designed by Peter Burke is a great piece of furniture you can build to enjoy garden-fresh greens all year. It’s fairly easy to build and the gift of year-round nutrition is well worth the effort!