Do you have the “itch” to get out in your garden but obviously can’t because it is still winter where you live? I know I do as my part of the country has a winter storm warning. The white stuff you see in the picture is snow! Or maybe you are limited on space as you live in a condo and want to grow a few herbs to garnish your salads, sandwiches, plates or maybe soups. For quick gratification try growing Micro Greens, like the Micro-Harvest Mix below. Don’t they look good?
So what are Micro Greens? They are tiny, edible greens grown from the seeds of vegetables and herbs. They need soil, sunlight and water and are usually harvested within a week or two after germination, depending on the variety. They only reach 1 to 3 inches tall and their flavor is more intense than that of mature greens. This includes the stem, cotyledons (seed leaves) and first set of true leaves.
Micro Greens can be grown any time of the year and are a good source of protein and vitamins. They are easier to grow than windowsill herbs; I can confirm that!
My favorite source is Johnny’s Selected Seeds, an employee-owned company in Maine. They have almost 80 varieties of seeds and for you basil lovers, like me, there are 5 varieties to choose from. Back when I had my big country garden I frequently ordered from their big catalog not just for seeds, but plants, tools and supplies. I highly recommend them even if you just want to look through their colorful catalog and dream of “spring”.
I also bought some kits from Gourmet Botanicals who provided the seed, soil, containers and instructions.
How to begin?
- Read – Books, books and more books, catalogs, articles in magazines and of course the internet
- seeds – specifically to grow as Micro Greens – as I mentioned above Johnny’s sells almost 80 varieties
- soil – use a good, light potting mix such as organic soil that contains kelp and alfalfa meal
- containers – recycle those plastic clam shells with lids – just poke some holes in the top and bottom – you can also buy them in different sizes online
- light – direct sunlight from a south-facing windowsill or get out those gro lights – they need about 4 hours and maybe more during the winter
Some of my gro-lights – looks like I need to make room for Micro Greens!
- water – moisten the soil and place a piece of cardboard that fits inside your containers to flatten and level the soil.
Quick Directions: Prepare your clean containers with holes in the bottoms and tops. Add your moistened soil, level and flatten it and sow your seeds. Cover with about 1/4-inch of dry soil and then spritz it with a water bottle. Close the lid and place in a warm place (I like to use the top of my refrigerator) until your seeds have sprouted. Once they have sprouted, remove the top, move to gro lights or a sunny windowsill. Keep the soil moist but not wet. Your seeds will come with directions so just follow their guidelines.
The four varieties I am growing now:
- cilantro and arugula
- basil and a mixture called Micro-harvest mix
- harvest – when you see the first “true leaves” they will be ready to harvest. This can be anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks after planting. Grab your scissors and snip the greens just above the soil line.
- to serve – wash your Micro Greens and dry in a salad spinner or between paper towels. Serve immediately! Any remaining Micro Greens can be stored in a plastic bag in your refrigerator. Basil does not like to be refrigerated so store any extra on the counter.