Indoor winter gardening: Growing microgreens

In Gardening, Seminars and Workshops, Winter by Jessie JacobsonLeave a Comment

It’s going to be in the 40s this weekend! Spring is as antsy as we are, it seems. But while we wait (impatiently), planting indoors is the next best thing.

Right now is when we start to crave that tasty, fresh produce that is nearly impossible to come by in winter (can we say mealy tomato, anyone?). Though that favorite fruit (yes, tomatoes are fruits) is still a ways off, there are edibles we can grow indoors right now. Why not? We have the time and the inclination, so here are the instructions for a more nutritionally dense and flavorful meal and a fun winter project. Plus, it only takes about a week!

Many of the plants that are typically grown as edibles can also be grown as microgreens. Deciding what to grow can be as simple as wanting to add some color to your plate or as complex as pairing greens that complement another food flavor. Here is some simple and basic information to get you started:

Choices, choices:

Planting microgreens: Pea shoots

Pea shoots

Fast growing

  • Radish (spicy)
  • Mustard (spicy)
  • Tatsoi
  • Cress (spicy)
  • Kohlrabi

Slow growing

  • Beet
  • Carrot
  • Chard (colorful)
  • Dill (citrusy)
  • Lemon balm

Other excellent options include peas, sunflowers (so tasty!), basil, chia, corn shoots, celery, and amaranth.

When choosing seeds, be sure they are untreated or listed as suitable for microgreen growing. Grow varieties listed above or search for other commonly grown varieties of microgreens. Not everything can be a microgreen.

Now that you’ve chosen some to try, some basic growing tips are in order.

Tips for growing microgreens

Choose a container. There are a variety of different containers for purchase, or just sterilize and reuse the container your strawberries (blueberries, lettuce, etc.) came in.

Use sterile, soilless growing media in your container. This is the same kind of mix used for normal seed starting, and it’s free of any soil-born pathogens (which have no effect on established plants but can take down little seedlings quite quickly).

Growing microgreens: kale seedlings

Kale seedlings

Thoroughly dampen the seed mix after adding it to your container.

Sprinkle your seeds. Be generous, but don’t sow them too thickly since they still need a little room to grow.

Mist seeds with a spray bottle of water. There’s no need to cover the seeds, but if you’d like to apply a very thin layer of growing media, that’s fine.

Cover seeds with the dome of the container or a damp paper towel.

Place in a bright, warm location.

Remove covering after seeds have begun to germinate. Watch for first true leaves.

Harvest and enjoy! In 10-14 days from planting, your greens will be ready to eat. Just snip off the top with scissors.

One initial harvest is all that each seedling can really grow, but a second harvest may be possible if some of the seeds didn’t grow as quickly as the others and don’t get snipped in the first harvest. Otherwise, just dump the soilless mix and start again! Plant two or three containers in succession for continuous harvest.

To learn more about microgreens (and plant your own) join us for our Edibles Expo Saturday, March 18. Learn more here.

Growing microgreens: Pea shoots

Pea shoots

Using snow water

On a not wholly unrelated note, let’s talk about snow water. Collecting snow, or rain water, is an excellent way to water plants (let it melt and warm up a bit first, of course).

Tap water, whether it’s from a well or city system, can contain things plants don’t love. Well water in this area is very alkaline and plants would prefer it be more neutral. City water contains fluoride and other things unnatural for plants.

Water from the sky does wonders. Give it a try, even once in awhile, and your plants will thank you for it, including microgreens. Happy planting — and eating!

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