6 easy steps for Growing Microgreens

Microgreens are nutrient powerhouses and are easily grown by practically anyone- no yard or garden needed! They are costly to buy in stores- if you can even find them! But have no fear-they are cheap to raise, and growing microgreens is also a fun introduction to gardening for children. 

Microgreens add excellent nutrition, freshness, and beauty to many dishes.

Depending on the seeds grown, Microgreens add a delicate, subtle, or strong flavor to many dishes.  IMG_9700

Don’t confuse microgreens with sprouts or baby greens. 

Sprouts are eaten when the seeds are just beginning to sprout a root and stem, usually at 2-5 days. Microgreens are ready to eat in 5-14 days, depending on the temperatures in the house, and the variety of seeds. As soon as they have two leaves, they are ready to eat. Baby Greens have grown longer than microgreens, usually from 2-4 weeks, and are often sold bagged in supermarkets in the produce section.

Growing Microgreens requires little more than a container, seeds, water, and a little light

Microgreen seeds
Seeds for microgreens- sunflower, lentil and flax from the grocery store

I buy most of my seeds at a grocery store. Raw sunflower seeds in the shell, lentils, and flax seeds are very inexpensive and can be found in bulk food areas as well as in small bags. The seeds that grew into the greens above cost less than twenty cents.

You can also purchase seeds online- Kale, broccoli, mustard and other types that give variety in taste and color. In the middle of wIMG_9763inter when you crave flavor and greens is a good time to experiment with different varieties.

With a container and a cover, seeds, a little soil, paper and water, you are ready to grow any type of microgreens with very little cost- and a big reward.

A nutritional study was carried out in 2012 by the University of Maryland. The study indicated that microgreens are 4-40 times higher in nutritional value than mature vegetables.  That’s a pretty good reason to grow microgreens!

Directions for Growing Microgreens.

Equipment: Tray, soil, single-ply toilet paper, seeds, spray bottle, water, sunny windowsill or grow light. 

Examples of growing containers for microgreens
Any low-sided, clean container can be used to grow microgreens

Any low-sided container will work as a tray for growing microgreens. 1. Put 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) of soil in the bottom of the container.  
IMG_9756

preparing the tissue paper for the microgreen trays
Separate the tissue into a single ply layer

2. Cover the soil with a natural brand of 2 ply toilet tissue that has been separated to make a single ply layer. The purpose of the paper is to keep the soil separated from the microgreens, but allow the roots to easily penetrate to the soil.

Tissue covered microgreen planters
Cover the soil with a single ply layer of organic tissue
Growing trays ready to plant microgreens
Spray the covered soil with enough water to moisten it thoroughly, and pour any excess out before planting microgreens

3. Spray the paper-covered soil until it is well-moistened, but not soggy. There should never be any standing water.

Microgreen seeds planted
Microgreen seeds sprinkled in a single layer on top of the prepared soil/paper covering

4. Cover the paper with a thin, single layer of seeds, and spray the seeds with water. The soil and seeds must be wet, but never standing in water. If you get too much water in, just pour the excess out.

Sunflower seeds ready to grow into microgreens
Cover migrogreen sunflower seeds with a single-ply layer of paper to retain moisture

Cover larger seeds such as sunflower seeds with an additional layer of the paper to help retain moisture. The microgreens will grow right through the paper. Keep the paper moist at all times.

Turning microgreen planters into mini-greenhouses with a plastic bag
After planting, cover the microgreen trays with a plastic bag to keep the moisture in. Keep them on a counter, out of the direct sunlight

5. Place each tray in a sealed plastic bag or cover it with plastic wrap to keep the seeds evenly moist. Leave the plastic over the tray until the seeds begin to sprout (1-3 days, depending on the type of seeds). Keep the planting containers out of the sun until the plastic cover has been removed.

A layer of paper on top of the seeds helps retain moisture until they sprout. The seeds easily grow through the layer.
Microgreen sunflower seeds sprouting through the paper covering
Microgreens sprouting and ready to put in the sun to continue growing.
Microgreen seeds beginning to sprout and ready to have the plastic bag removed.

6. Once the seeds have begun to sprout, remove the plastic bags and place the trays in a sunny window sill, or under a grow light. They must have strong light to grow well and healthy.

Microgreens ready to harvest
1 week old microgreens ready to harvest. Flax, lentil, French lentil

Spray the growing seeds once or twice a day to keep the dirt and paper wet. If the paper looks dry, the dirt under is too dry- add more water. Once the greens have 2 leaves, they are ready to use in salads, sandwiches, as garnishes, or in many other ways…

Using scissors, cut the microgreens just above the roots
harvesting microgreens
Growing microgreens without soil in the greens
Healthy microgreen roots that have grown through the paper, keeping the soil out of the greens

You can see in this photo that the roots have grown right through the paper cover, keeping the greens clean.
Snip the greens at the soil level. The soil (and paper) can be added to a compost pile or fed to a worm bin, or thrown into a garden.

Using your microgreens in a salad
Microgreens and baby kale form the base of the best salad you have ever eaten
Store microgreens in the refrigerator for up to 3 days
Place cut microgreens on a paper towel in a covered container in the refrigerator.

Store the cut microgreens covered in the refrigerator for 5-7 days. Placing a napkin under the greens to help the microgreens remain fresh, longer.
My favorite way of eating microgreens: add several different kinds of microgreens to chopped baby kale, grated carrots, tiny cubes of a sharp cheese, any other raw vegetables that I happen to have on hand,  and add a poppy seed dressing…. excellent!

For recipes and over 100 ideas for using microgreens, look for Microgreen Margo on Pinterest

How is YOUR microgreen garden growing?

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