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Jun 18, 2009

If you've never grown microgreens such as culinary herbs, edible flowers, baby lettuce or specialty greens, you really should, because they are a great way to garden year round.

Microgreens are a delicious base for, or an addition to, salads, entrees, and appetizers, plus they can easily be grown, giving you access to fresh greens any time of the year.

What Are Microgreens?

In the old days (like back in the 50s-60s-70s) what we called growing alfalfa sprouts has now developed into "microgreens" because the entire concept has really progressed to the next level.

The microgreens that are available now are the super nutritious, but immature stage (between sprouts and leafy greens) of vegetables, herbs and some edible flowers, and they are mass produced by specialty growers for organic markets, specialty chefs and restaurants, whole foods producers, and online delivery.

The great thing is that even though they are small, they are big on flavor and can be grown just about anywhere - even on a windowsill - because they are basically houseplants you can eat.

Popular Microgreens To Grow:

Peas
Kale
Cabbage
Arugula
Radishes
Beets
Clover
Mustard

What makes microgreens so easy to grow is because they don't need a lot of light, and they’re only going to be grown until the emergence of the first leaf (the cotyledon) stage, so a windowsill or sunny kitchen counter is a ideal location.

Also, each microgreen has an individual flavor, so you can grow your own microgreen "blend" if you want.

Note: If you want to grow a blend of microgreens, just keep in mind that it's important to plant those that have similar germination rates together so you can harvest your greens all at once.

Here's How To Grow Your Own Microgreens:

Supplies:

1. Shallow trays with clear domed lids (available at garden supply stores)

2. Potting soil

3. Seeds

4. Paper towels

Growing and Harvesting:

1. Create a seed bed by filling trays with soil. Be sure the soil is spread uniformly and that the surface is flat

2. Sow seeds by taking handfuls of seed and sprinkling them liberally across the soil surface

3. Press gently on sown seeds to be sure they have contact with the growing medium

4. Place a paper towel over the seed bed - 1 layer thick

5. Water using a kitchen sprayer, or a spray bottle, and thoroughly soak the towels until you are sure the soil beneath is wet

6. Cover trays with lids and place in a location that is not exposed to direct sunlight, but rather an area that gets very little light at all

Note: The lid on the tray will help keep moisture in and stimulate germination, but make sure that the paper towel stays moist during the process. If it dries out, wet it again.

Note: On the other hand, the lid can sometimes create a 'green house effect' so monitor your trays carefully. If the seeds seem to be getting too hot inside, remove the lid slightly to allow for ventilation and some air circulation.

7. Once the seeds fully germinate, which can vary based on seed type used, you'll notice the towel starting to lift off the soil. When this happens, remove the lid and paper towels from the tray and place the tray in a location that gets bright, but indirect sunlight

8. Continue to water gently as needed. Remember that over-watering can be just as damaging as under-watering, so allow the plants to dry slightly between waterings

9. Harvest microgreens any time after the emergence of the first leaves by cutting the stems with sharp kitchen scissors

10. Wash the greens by placing them in a container such as a small, plastic dish pan, and then dry them on a towel

11. Use your microgreens immediately, or store them in a resealable bag in the refrigerator

That's it! Pretty simple. And if you're a salad eater like me, this is a wonderful way to add new zest and zip to your lunch or dinner salads, so give it a try!

For more Gardening Tips and Gardening Advice visit our main gardening website at Weekend Gardener Monthly Web Magazine

Have great week!

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Posted: Thursday June 18, 2009, 4:45 am
Tags: gardening tips [add/edit tags]

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