How to Grow Microgreens

Learn how to grow microgreens in your indoor garden to add fresh, vibrant flavor to meals throughout the year.

| April 2015

  • Microgreens, by loose definition, are the cotyledon and first "true leaves" of a plant.
    Photo by Crystal Liepa
  • Harvesting micros is easy work, and just takes a few moments with a pair of scissors.
    Photo by Crystal Liepa
  • Elizabeth Millard’s “Indoor Kitchen Gardening” will help you cultivate heartier herbs and vegetables all year long.
    Cover courtesy Cool Springs Press
  • When used as a garnish, microgreens add intense flavor and dense nutrients to savory dishes.
    Photo by Crystal Liepa
  • The shallow root systems grown when plants are at the ready-to-eat stage mean that even very shallow containers can be used as vessels for growing micros.
    Photo by Crystal Liepa
  • All the equipment you'll need for a large microgreens planting is assembled here.
    Photo by Crystal Liepa
  • In a sealed glass jar your microgreens will keep for at least a week, if refrigerated.
    Photo by Crystal Liepa
  • Some seed companies have developed certain varieties that are best for growing microgreens, but in general you shouldn't pay more for microgreen seeds since most seeds will grow into the micro stage.
    Photo by Crystal Liepa

Gardening will always be mostly about outdoor activity, but if you make good plant choices and cultivate the right indoor environment, you can grow practically any produce you want. Author and gardener Elizabeth Millard offers advice on how to grow fruits, veggies and more, year-round, in Indoor Kitchen Gardening (Cool Springs Press, 2014). The following excerpt on how to grow, harvest and preserve microgreens will have you adding fresh, vibrant flavor to meals throughout the seasons.

Purchase this book from the Mother Earth Living store: Indoor Kitchen Gardening.

Although some seed companies offer mixes designated as microgreens, there’s no such thing as a “microgreen seed.” They aren’t grown using some special, almost magical seed that will grow a plant that’s only about three inches in height. Instead, microgreens can be grown from nearly any seed, since they represent the first stage of growth of a plant.

These initial leaves, called cotyledons, of a seedling give way eventually to a plant’s “true leaves,” and from there the growth truly begins into vegetable, herb, or fruit. In other words, if you plant seeds in order to get microgreens and then change your mind or leave them for longer than intended, the plant will begin maturing and, most likely, get too large for the pot you’ve chosen.

In terms of arrival on the home garden scene, microgreens are the new kids on the block, but their popularity with chefs, small-scale farmers, and urban growers will likely propel microgreens past the trendy stage. Their cute size, mule-kick-level flavor, and nutritional clout make them a perfect addition to any indoor growing mix.

There’s a reason microgreens are catching on quickly. According to a recent study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, microgreens can have up to forty times more nutrients than mature plants, ounce for ounce. Their nutritional density depends on the type of microgreen, but all seem lush with nutrients. Considering how easy it would be to slip some micros into a kid’s meal for an extra nutrient boost, keeping a small tray going in a kitchen garden makes sense.

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