I started eating them almost by accident. I was weeding mustard greens out of a community garden patch, and rather than toss them into the compost, I just started nibbling on them. They were much tastier than the full-grown plant, and offered a few other benefits as well. For starters, they can be harvested within weeks of planting, rather than the two months or more it would take to get to full size. Because they’re so young, they’re often extremely tender and sweet. Plus, you can plant a lot of seed in a smaller space, since you’re weeding them out before they get taller, more straggly, and need more soil and water.
Happily, you don’t actually need a garden to grow microgreens. You don’t even need special microgreen seeds, since all you’re really doing is eating the very early growth of the regular plant. Here are sixteen you can grow in a jar or box on your porch, patio, windowsill or anywhere else they’ll get plenty of direct sunlight and moisture.
* Radish greens
* Beet greens
Here’s the process:
* Get seed. Most hardware stores and garden centers sell all these seeds, but you can also shop for them online. One packet of seeds will grow a lot of microgreens, so don’t buy more than you need.
* Get the right container. You’ll need something that’s a few inches deep. Again, hardware stores and garden centers sell special containers for sprouting seeds, but I use planters I have around the house or wide-mouth jars. I prefer containers that have drainage holes on the bottom, but when I use a glass jar without bottom holes I try not to overwater the seeds.
* Use good soil. For seeds, loose, crumbly soil full of organic matter is best. You can buy an organic potting mix, or make up some from your garden by mixing soil with compost and a little organic fertilizer if you have it. I usually make up a big pile of potting mix at one time and then use it to fill all my containers.
* Sprinkle the seeds on top; cover with just a little more dirt. Scatter the seeds over the potting mix, then cover with no more than 1/8 inch dirt.
* Water gently but thoroughly. You don’t want the soil so wet that the seed rots. However, you don’t want the soil to dry out either. Sometimes, a plant mister works best. Spray the soil until you can see that it is wet but not muddy.
* Put in the sun. Seeds need at least four hours of direct sunlight every day. A nice sunny south-facing window should do the trick. You can also use grow lights, but for microgreens, I prefer the sun.
* Harvest. Keep an eye on the seeds. They’ll start sprouting within a few days. Wait ten days to two weeks, when they’ve got their first set of true leaves, to start harvesting them. You can use scissors to snip them off right above the soil, or your fingertips to pinch them off the stem. Try to harvest them the same day you’re going to eat them for the freshest flavor.
* Eat. I usually start eating them as soon as I pick them. Otherwise, I toss them into a salad, use them as a garnish on an omelette or in soup, or tuck them inside a sandwich. You could also add them to your juicer with any number of other fruits and vegetables.