Let it Grow! Growing Microgreens Indoors this Winter

Now that winter is coming, you can still grow your veggies — just indoors. Growing microgreens is a fun, cheap way to grow highly nutritious vegetable seedlings for sandwiches, wraps, soup and salads.

What are Microgreens?

Microgreens are the shoots of edible, tasty plants, requiring very little space and minimal cost. Microgreens differ from sprouts. With microgreens, the seed germinates in a growing medium and after one or two weeks, the “micro” stems and leaves are cut down to the soil level and eaten. Sprouts are seeds grown in a moist container and after a few days, the entire sprout — root and seed — is harvested.

How to Grow Microgreens

You only need to purchase the growing medium and the seed. You should be able to reuse plastic containers commonly found at home such as grocery store clam shells for berries or Chinese food containers.

Step 1: Poke a few holes in the container for drainage.

Step 2: Fill the container with 2 inches of bagged, sterile, soilless growing medium, not soil from the garden. (The mix specifically made for starting seeds works best.)

Step 3: Once the container is filled, water thoroughly. Now, it’s time for the seed. The best seed for microgreens germinate quickly and produce tasty shoots and leaves. There is no such thing as a microgreen seed; microgreen is really a stage in which you harvest the plant. However, you may find seed packages sold as “microgreens” because the package is a mix with similar germination rates. Popular seeds are kale, mizuna, mustard, radish, carrot, cress, arugula, basil, onion, chive, broccoli, fennel, sweet pea, celery, bok choy and Asian greens. Individual packets are available at the local nurseries, but for bulk orders and a wider variety, search online for providers like High Mowing Seeds, Johnny’s Selected Seeds, Kitazawa Seed Company or Botanical Interests. Because plants germinate and grow at different rates, it is best to use one type of seed per container.

Step 4: Cover the surface with your chosen seeds and press the seeds down with your fingers to put them in direct contact with the moisture.

Step 5: Place the container on top of a tray to catch the excess water. Cover with another container to increase the humidity level and warmth. (Tip: Always label containers with the plants’ names and keep records so you learn how soon you can harvest and what you like to eat.)

Step 6: After the seeds germinate, remove the cover and provide light via grow lights, fluorescent tubes or a south facing window. If you do not have a very sunny window, you may have to rotate the container for the stems to grow straight. If the top level of the soil dries out, water by either misting the top or putting the container in a pan of water so the water is absorbed via the bottom drainage holes.

Step 7: When it’s time to harvest, hold a section and cut straight across with scissors a centimeter above soil line. You can cut what you need, wash and use right away. Or, you can cut all of it, wash, dry and refrigerate in a plastic bag for a few days.

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