Microgreens may be tiny vegetables, but they are packed with nutrients and flavour. In fact they have a higher concentration of nutrients than their larger counterparts.
Their aroma and flavour enhance dishes, be they condiments, salads, soups, sandwiches, wraps and many other food items. They add colour and vibrancy when used as garnishes.
Microgreens can be grown easily and quickly at home with a harvesting time of 1 to 3 weeks. The stems, cotyledons ( seed leaves) and first set of leaves of the plant are rich in potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, copper and anti oxidants.
They should not be confused with sprouts, which are not only grown differently in that they do not develop leaves, but are also eaten for their seeds, roots and stems.
Selection of seeds
Always use good quality seeds. Any vegetable whose leaves are edible can be grown as a microgreen, from leafy green vegetables such as spinach, fenugreek (methi), mustard, salad greens, herbs and spices to beans, lentils and cereal crops. Even plants such as broccoli, cauliflower, beetroot and radish can be grown as microgreens.
Where to grow
These tiny plants can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Once germination has occurred, these plants require about 4 hours of direct sunlight a day. Too little light will produce leggy plants with very pale leaves.
If growing outdoors choose a sheltered, but well lit spot.
Selection of container
Any shallow tray- type container can be used to grow these greens. This is a great way to reuse and recycle food containers.
The container doesn’t need to have drainage holes.
Cocopeat or any sterilised garden soil can be used.
- Add moist growing medium to the container to a depth of about 2-3 inches.
- Scatter a layer of seeds across the surface of the soil/ cocopeat and gently press them into it. Cover small seeds with a thin layer of growing medium. Larger seeds should be covered with a thicker layer of soil. Moisten this layer by gently spraying water on the surface.
- Cover with a clear plastic cover or cling film. Place the container on a bright window sill or in a sheltered position outdoors. Check daily to ensure the medium remains moist. Water gently by using a spray bottle if needed.
- Remove the cover once germination has occurred. This varies according to the crop and can take from 3 to 7 days. Continue to water gently until the plants are ready to harvest; typically when they are about 1 to 3 inches tall and have produced their first set of leaves.
Microgreens can only be harvested once. Cut the tops and then wash and use them in your favourite dishes. With such a wide variety of seeds to choose from, there is surely a ‘ vegetable confetti’ to suit every palate.