Grow Some Microgreens

microgreens

Who are these beautiful girls, and what are they up to?

Read on…then gather up the kids and get to work!

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WHEN BIGGER IS NOT BETTER

There exists in the world of “could‑be salads” a crop of tender, delicious greens sometimes found in high‑end restaurants but rarely grocery stores.  Cute as all get‑out, happily emerging and reaching for the light from their bed of sweet‑smelling, almost fluffy organic matter, they are powerhouses of nutrition, packed with more vitamins and phytonutrients than the adult versions of themselves.

I’m talking, of course, about diminutive but mighty microgreens, adorable edibles that can easily be grown and harvested inside or outside in just a couple of weeks.  What, exactly, are these up‑and‑coming little crops that are gaining attention these days?  Essentially, a microgreen is the baby shoot of any of a number of salad vegetables, brassicas, even edible flowers, grown in soil and cut with scissors at around 2 inches in height, after their first true leaves form.  Unlike sprouts, which are simply seeds that are started in a moist environment and eaten lock, stock and barrel when they sprout (or at least root, stem, and first pale leaves), microgreens are actually planted in soil and tended like regular plants, but harvested as infants.

cutting the greens
cut greens in spinner basket

IT SHOULD BE ILLEGAL

Microgreens are ridiculously easy and quick to grow, and the yield you get for the planting space is so high, it’s almost criminal.  I feel like somewhat of a crook when I can sow some seeds into a soil‑filled egg carton and, within a couple of weeks, reap a bowlful of these little plants that have it all: living enzymes, color, texture, crunch, all that nutrition your body will thank you for, and the satisfaction of having grown them yourself.

kim and belly with greens

Kim and Belly

Check out my video of my friend Kim and her granddaughter, Isabella, planting the microgreens that grew into the ones they’re holding in the picture!  This is a wonderful project for the kiddos.

Besides being tasty on their own, microgreens are also colorful and delightful to use as a plate garnish or atop soups or big‑leafed salads, in sandwiches ‑‑ or, my favorite way, smashed into a pile of avocado over toast.

avocado toast

SPICE UP YOUR LIFE

I like to season my avocado toast, as well as fruit and many other things, with Tajín, an amazing seasoning beloved in Mexico (I wonder where it has been all my life!) and readily available in American grocery stores, often in the produce department.  It is a sassy, tangy mixture of dried lime juice, chiles and salt.  Amazing stuff!  Here I am showing it to my dining room chickens.  If you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out!

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THE SEEDS

I like Johnny’s Selected Seeds, a company with a catalog so full of lovely pictures of fresh produce, you’ll be calling a landscape designer to redo your yard so you can grow it all.  I like their mild microgreen mix.  They also carry a spicier mix that contains radish and other stronger‑flavored greens.  You can order them in bulk from johnnyseeds.com.

Wherever your seeds come from, you want to be sure they are designated for use as microgreens, because regular seeds may be treated with stuff you won’t want in your diet.  Many plants can be grown and harvested as micros, including cabbage, kale, mizuna, kohlrabi, arugula, beet, chard, broccoli, lettuce, mustard, pac choi, collard, radish, amaranth, cauliflower, chia, sunflower, and buckwheat.

LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE… OR AT LEAST YOUR PLANTER BOX

As the last of the lovely, surprisingly warm autumn days turn to colder ones in northern Utah, I’m preparing to start my first itty‑bitty indoor crop of micro salad greens right in my dining room, underneath a fluorescent light that I mounted onto my one and only antique piece of furniture, an unfinished hutch that I bought during a “nesting” flurry when I settled into my Draper condo back in 2003.

hutch
Hutch-Planter Box

My friend Mark, an amazing builder of everything, made the perfect‑sized planter for me out of scrap wood and painted it white.  It is only a few inches wide and has tall legs so the little fellas can sunbathe right up close to the light.  (Info: Plants do fine underneath a fluorescent lamp, provided they are within just a few inches of it for a good 14‑18 hours or so a day, with a nighttime resting period.)

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Mark also makes beautiful, high‑quality boxes out of old, weathered wood and used hardware that he finds in various places, such as flea markets‑‑or even new hardware that he sets outside in water so they rust.  His newly‑built boxes look like antiques.  They are amazing‑‑have a look!

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INDOORS FOR THE WINTER

I enjoyed growing several crops of microgreens outside in my raised bed in the past few months, the last of which is seen in this picture among the lettuce, spinach, beets, collards, and other late fall crops that I threw in for fun.  But now it’s almost time to say good‑bye to the outside garden for the winter and bring a bit of it in where the kitchen will soon smell of butternut squash, vegetable soup, and all things cinnamoney.

greens in garden

I’ll post updates on my indoor greens‑‑soon.  Very, very soon.  Because we know how fast those things grow…kind of just like kids and grandchildren!

What kind of microgreens will you grow?

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