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How to grow microgreens at home this winter – and why you should

Microgreens. Picture: Supplied

Microgreens. Picture: Supplied

Published May 13, 2022

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Are you interested in growing microgreens? I don’t blame you. Radish, sunflower, broccoli, peas, and kale are all delicious.

Growing microgreens in containers indoors is a wonderful way to fill your diet with nutrient-dense superfoods.

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Plus, microgreens can be pretty expensive in the grocery store. Growing your own is far more affordable, and easy to do. In this article, we share tips on growing microgreens at home.

What are microgreens? Gardening experts at Life Is A Garden say microgreens is a generic term for immature greens, harvested soon after their sprouting stage, typically within 10-15 days.

“Microgreens are sometimes confused with sprouts – which are germinated seeds that are eaten root, seed and shoot. Big on nutrition and flavour, microgreens can be expensive to purchase. Among the easiest and fastest-growing crops, microgreens offer a palette of fresh flavours, from mild to spicy, and inspire repeated plantings for an ongoing supply of fresh greens for creative uses,” they say.

Microgreens. Picture: Supplied

Below the experts share steps to growing microgreens indoors.

  • Start by ensuring you have a warm, sunny windowsill and some small, clean containers. Plastic takeaway dishes work well, as do clear fruit or salad boxes. If your chosen container doesn't have built-in drainage, poke a few drainage holes in the bottom. Then, prepare to plant.
  • Read the seed packet to see if there are any special instructions.
  • Cover the bottom of the container with a layer (approximately 3 – 4cm) of moistened potting soil or germination mix. A good option is coco peat, palm peat or coco husk. Peat, which is an organic growing medium, has good water retention and allows germination to happen considerably faster. Flatten and level it with your hand or a small piece of cardboard, taking care not to over-compress the medium. Scatter seeds evenly on top of the soil or peat and gently press in, using your hand or the cardboard.
  • Cover the seeds with a thin layer of vermiculite which will act like a warm blanket for the seeds and promote fast-acting germination. Dampen the surface by spraying a little bit of water. (Use a spray bottle with a fine mist)
  • While waiting for sprouts to appear, usually within three to seven days, use the mister once a day to keep the soil moist but not wet.
  • Once seeds have sprouted, continue to mist once a day.
  • Microgreens need about four hours of direct sunlight daily to thrive. In winter some may need more. Leggy, pale greens are a sign of inadequate sunlight. If your space is too shaded, consider investing in a grow light. Depending upon the type of seeds you’ve selected, your microgreens will be ready to harvest about two to three weeks after planting. Look for the first set of “true leaves” as a sign of readiness. Then grab your scissors and snip the greens just above the soil line. Don’t forget to repeat the process as you can’t use the germinated seedlings once you have harvested the micro leaves.

Reasons to grow microgreens?

The team at Feelgood Health notes that microgreens are finding a fresh way into home kitchens and these succulent seedlings of a variety of vegetables and herbs are becoming part of the typical family diet. Here are their top reasons to start cultivating microgreens at home.

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Don’t forget that they are delicious

Microgreens are not just delicately good-looking and nutritionally good for you, they are also flavourful and add wonderful texture to food. From the sweet, crispy crunch of tiny broccoli to the earthy freshness and rich colour of beetroot seedlings, microgreens can also be tangy and spicy.

Don’t just decorate the plate, add generous handfuls of microgreens as fresh toppings for pizza, baked potatoes, or scrambled eggs; include them in salads, poke bowls, and smoothies. They also add crunch, freshness and flavour to pancakes, sandwiches and toast treats.

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Fresh greens – all weather, all year round

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The beauty of growing microgreens at home is that they can be cultivated all year round. In fact, all you need is a light, bright windowsill. You can grow microgreens in just seven to 14 days.

It’s indoor growing so you are not bound by seasonal planting and don’t have to miss out on any of the goodness of spring and summer veg and herbs. Topping any winter dish with microgreens gives you an important nutritional lift at a time when our meals tend to be heavier but lower in greens.

Microgreens are easy and cost-effective to grow yourself

Even if you don’t believe you have green fingers, it’s easy to grow microgreens as you don’t have to care for the plants for months on end. The key is to have good quality, edible seeds, and unlike sprouting at home, microgreens do require soil.

To get started, consider grow kits such as My Growing Health range which includes five different varieties of popular microgreens, compostable containers, bamboo rakes, and good quality soil.

All you do is put most of the soil into the container and rake it over to level the soil. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the surface and then use the remaining soil to make a thin covering. Using a spray bottle, water the seeds and put the container in a well-lit spot, though it shouldn’t get direct sunlight.

Spray with water each day, and soon the little seedlings will pop through the soil. You can start harvesting when the first seed leaves are well-formed, after about seven days, by using scissors to cut the greens above the soil level.

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