The frost has certainly set in, and if you can’t feel it you can definitely see it! Bare branches and naked nature strips can be seen throughout chilly suburbs and windswept cities. Nature has shut down for the winter, and easy access to our favourite summer herbs in the garden have come to a halt. There is always the supermarket, but the cost of this produce will reflect the distance it's endured to get on your plate.
So how do we keep cultivating greens all year round? Microgreens! You’ve heard of the humble indoor herb garden, what you probably didn’t know is that you can grow way more than just basil and mint on your kitchen windowsill.
Microgreens are made from greens that have been harvested before maturation, just 7 to 16 days after germination. The result is a much smaller green with a more intense flavour and highly concentrated nutrient profile. Microgreens are a popular choice for farmers and novice growers alike. This is because they can be produced quickly, are cost-effective and can be grown year-round. They’re also perfect for apartment dwellers and those with limited space as they can be grown anywhere a sunny windowsill is found.
They can come from just about any type of vegetable or herb, making them an incredibly versatile dietary addition. Although most often used as a garnish to add a splash of colour to the plate, they can also take center stage as a main ingredient in dishes like salads. Microgreens are much more nutrient dense to their fully grown counterparts. This is because all of the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants found in a mature plant is crammed into a much smaller package. Including just a few servings of microgreens into your diet alongside other fruits and vegetables will ensure you get the nutrients you need to maintain optimum health.
Often overlooked as we’re used to eating the fully grown versions of these plants—microgreens have a vast variety of flavours and textures that are perfect for adding a touch of excitement to meals. They also have high amounts of vitamins and nutrients that will become easily accessible to you year round. On top of that, they're great value, as many varieties will regrow after a harvest meaning you’re really getting your moneys worth from these little greens.
Microgreens can be grown year round, because the environment they’re grown in is completely customisable. Too hot? Move to a shady spot. Too cold? Move to a sunny spot! Another benefit is that they can be grown a lot in a small area as they have a high yield to space ratio. Whether you live in an apartment with or without a balcony, microgreens are perfect for those living in small urban areas. You may think you don’t have room for a garden, but all microgreens require is a vacant windowsill.
How to grow microgreens at home:
What you will need — Water, Soil, Seeds, a pot and some sunlight!
- Find a sunny spot near a window that gets around 4 to 6 hours of sun a day.
- Make sure the pots, baskets, containers you’re using to grow your microgreens in have good drainage. While making sure there is good drainage make sure you also have something to catch all that moisture being drained... otherwise things could get messy.
- Fill the container with roughly an inch of soil.
- Sprinkle a generous amount of seeds over the top of the soil, since you’re not planting these greens to watch them grow to maturity one by one you’ll need a lot more to get a good harvest.
- Press down the seeds lightly into the soil then cover with a thin layer of soil.
- Spritz the top of the soil with water, twice a day, every day until the seeds begin to germinate.
- Depending what you’re growing it could be as fast as two weeks from planting that you’re little garden will be ready for its first harvest.
- To harvest your microgreens cut them at the stem right above the soil, at which point the roots still left in the soil will start to regrow and you’ll have fresh food again in no time!
Note: Microgreens should not be confused with sprouts. Sprouts involve the sprouting of seeds by soaking them in water to germinate.
Here is a list of some of our favourite microgreens to grow—
- Purple Sango Radish — Purple leaves and pink stems, spicy flavour, 10 to 15 days.
- Snow Pea Shoots — Green leaves and stems, mildly sweet with plenty of crunch, 10 to 15 days.
- Chervil — Green leaves and stems, mild liquorice flavour similar to anise, 16 to 25 days.
- Dill — Green leaves and stems, mild dill flavour, 16 to 25 days.
- Sunflower — Green leaves and stems, nutty taste similar to the sunflower seed, 10 to 15 days.
- Red Giant Mustard — Green leaves with red veins and white stems, spicy flavour, 16 to 25 days.
- Red Stemmed Cabbage — Purple stem and green leaves, mild flavour, 10 to 15 days.
Want more? Check out this complete list of microgreens you can grow!