Microgreens are young vegetable greens that are harvested just after the first true leaves have developed, usually 1-3 weeks after germination. They are more nutritious and packed with higher concentrations of nutrients than their mature counterparts. Microgreens are grown from the seeds of leafy vegetables and herbs such as kale, cabbage, arugula, beets, basil, cilantro, and chard. Once the seedlings reach 1-3 inches in height they are snipped off above soil level and can be eaten fresh or incorporated into various foods and dishes.
Microgreens have gained popularity in recent years as a superfood and garnish ingredient used by high-end restaurants and discerning home chefs. They provide an intense burst of flavor, vivid color, and dense nutrition in a small package. Microgreens bridge the gap between sprouts and baby greens, occupying their own unique culinary niche. They are versatile enough to be used both raw in salads and sandwiches as well as cooked in soups and stir-fries.
Key characteristics of microgreens:
- Harvested 10-21 days after germination when leaves first emerge
- Approximately 1-3 inches tall when harvested
- More nutrient-dense than mature greens
- Range of flavors from mild to spicy
- Vibrant green colors and sometimes hues of red or purple
- Usually eaten fresh but can be cooked as well
Popular microgreen varieties include broccoli, kale, cabbage, arugula, basil, cilantro, beets, chard, radish, and sunflower shoots. Microgreens open up new culinary possibilities as an ingredient that provides concentrated nutrition and Bold flavor in a miniature form.
- Microgreens are nutritionally-packed greens harvested just after the first true leaves emerge, usually 1-3 weeks after germination.
- Popular microgreen varieties include broccoli, kale, arugula, radishes, beets, cilantro, and sunflower shoots.
- Growing microgreens indoors provides fresh greens year-round with minimal space required. Their rapid growth cycle gives satisfying results in 10-14 days.
- When getting started, select a bright space near a window and gather essential supplies like containers, soilless mixes, seeds, and grow lights.
- Careful planting, consistent moisture, warmth, light, and air circulation will produce vigorous growth. Handle microgreens gently when harvesting.
- Microgreens can be used raw in salads or sandwiches, blended into smoothies, cooked briefly in soups or stir-fries, and used as flavorful garnishes.
- These petite greens provide concentrated amounts of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients for optimal nutrition in just a few bites.
- With proper practices, indoor microgreen gardening can provide a continual harvest of fresh, highly nutritious greens to incorporate into meals.
Overview of Benefits of Growing Microgreens Indoors
Growing microgreens indoors offers many advantages that make it an ideal gardening activity for urban dwellers and anyone without an outdoor garden space. Below are some of the top benefits of cultivating microgreens inside:
- Year-Round Availability: Microgreens can be grown successfully indoors year-round regardless of outdoor conditions. Their short growth cycle means fresh greens can be harvested even in the dead of winter.
- Space Efficiency: Microgreens require very little space to grow. A few trays can produce a continual harvest for household needs. Interior Microgreen Gardening is perfect for small homes and apartments.
- Fast Results: Microgreens are ready to harvest in just 10-14 days, which provides quick gratification compared to growing vegetables. Frequent plantings ensure a steady supply.
- Fun Activity: Nurturing microgreens from seed to harvest is an engaging, rewarding hobby. Caring for the Greens each day and watching them develop is enjoyable.
- Nutrition: Microgreens contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Eating homegrown greens provides superior nutrition over store-bought produce.
- Freshness: Harvesting and eating microgreens immediately result in exceptional flavor and texture that beats store-bought greens.
- Cost Savings: Growing microgreens at home is much cheaper than buying gourmet greens at the supermarket. Initial setup expenses are minimal.
Producing microgreens indoors enables garden-fresh produce year-round, requires little space, provides quick satisfaction, and boosts access to ultra-nutritious greens. The benefits make microgreens an ideal choice for home growing.
Getting Started with Indoor Microgreens Gardening
Getting started with growing microgreens indoors is easy and rewarding. With just a small investment in basic supplies and a bright spot in your home, you can begin producing trays of fresh, nutritious greens in just weeks. Though microgreens require daily care and attention, the tasks involved are relatively simple and take just a few minutes per day. The keys are setting up an optimal growing area, gathering essential equipment, and selecting the best varieties to begin with. By making smart choices in these areas, you will establish conditions for microgreens success right from the start.
Choosing a Space for Indoor Microgreens
When cultivating microgreens inside, the most important factors in selecting a growing space are light and temperature. A sunny window or countertop is an ideal spot. Kitchens often provide ample horizontal spaces for situating trays. Consider the following when picking an indoor location:
- Sunlight: Microgreens require at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight or artificial light daily. South or west-facing windows receive the most ambient light.
- Room Temperature: Microgreens grow best at consistent temperatures between 65-75°F. Avoid drafty areas.
- Shelves: Sturdy, flat shelves in a bright window make perfect platforms for microgreen trays.
- Counters: Kitchen counters and islands positioned near windows provide excellent growing areas.
- Tabletops: A table situated adjacent to a window can accommodate multiple microgreens trays.
- Proximity: Position microgreen trays close to the sink for convenient watering and draining.
- Pests: Avoid spots prone to infestations by pets, rodents, or insects.
When selecting an indoor microgreens cultivation space, optimize for ample natural sunlight, stable room temperatures, and easy access for tending to the plants daily. This sets up your greens for vigorous growth and allows convenient care.
Table 1: Microgreens Growing Supplies
|Containers||Shallow trays or pots with drainage holes|
|Growing Medium||Soilless mix like coco coir or potting soil|
|Seeds||Microgreen seeds or vegetable/herb seeds|
|Lighting||Grow lights or sunny window|
|Watering Tools||Spray bottle, watering can|
|Harvesting Tools||Kitchen shears or scissors|
Required Materials and Equipment
Growing microgreens indoors does not require major investments in supplies or equipment. Below are some essential materials needed:
- Trays & Containers: Shallow trays or seedling flats with drainage holes work perfectly. Recycled food containers can also be used.
- Growing Medium: Soilless mixes like coco coir or lightweight potting soil provide ideal media for microgreens.
- Seeds: Purchase microgreen seeds from garden suppliers like True Leaf Market or use vegetable and herb seeds.
- Lighting: Sunny windows or full spectrum grow lights supplement lower indoor light.
- Spray Bottles: These are ideal for gently watering microgreens seeds and seedlings.
- Kitchen Shears: Trim microgreens with dedicated kitchen shears for easy harvests.
- Seed germination mats
- Humidity domes
- Bottom watering trays
- Small indoor fans
- Heating pads
When starting out, begin with the basics – trays, soil, seeds, and light. Expand your supplies as you gain experience. Investments in equipment like lighting and heating mats are minimal.
Selecting Microgreens Varieties
One of the joys of growing microgreens is experimenting with different varieties. When first starting out, choose beginner-friendly options before advancing to more challenging greens. Consider the following criteria when selecting seeds:
- Difficulty Level: Opt for easy crops like broccoli, kale, radishes, and arugula initially.
- Time to Maturity: Quick-growing varieties like radish (5 days) serve as nice starters.
- Flavor Profile: Balance mild microgreens like pea shoots with more intense ones like mustard.
- Color: Incorporate different colors for visual appeal by including red cabbage or amaranth.
- Cost: Prices range widely for specialty seeds – weigh cost versus value.
- Nutrition: Focus on nutrient-rich varieties like broccoli, sunflower, kale, and chard.
Great microgreens for indoor growing include broccoli, kale, chard, arugula, radishes, basil, dill, beets, and cilantro which offer a spectrum of flavors and colors for livening up recipes. Start experimenting with 2-3 vigorous, rapidly growing varieties as you hone your cultivation techniques.
Table 2: Popular Microgreen Varieties
|Variety||Time to Maturity||Taste|
|Radish||5-7 days||Bold, spicy|
|Sunflower||7-10 days||Mild, nutty|
|Pea Shoots||10-14 days||Sweet, crisp|
|Broccoli||10-14 days||Mild, fresh|
Planting and Caring for Indoor Microgreens
Once you have chosen a space and gathered supplies, it’s time to start planting and caring for your microgreens. While microgreens are relatively easygoing plants, they do require attentive care at each stage to produce the best results. Taking the time to properly prepare trays, sow seeds at the correct depth and density, maintain optimal conditions daily, and gently handle the tender greens will ensure robust, healthy growth. The keys are sterilizing equipment, allowing for air circulation, providing ample lighting, regulating temperature and humidity, and watering appropriately. With good preventative practices and prompt troubleshooting, your microgreens will thrive indoors.
Preparing Trays and Soil
Proper preparation of containers and growing medium creates ideal conditions for seeds to germinate and grow into healthy microgreens. Follow these tips:
- Fill trays with 2-3 inches of soilless mix, avoiding compression.
- Moisten the mix thoroughly before planting seeds.
- Allow excess water to drain fully from the tray bottom.
- Disinfect trays to prevent diseases using diluted bleach.
- For reused trays, wash thoroughly and replace the old soil mix.
Ensuring adequate drainage and moisture while starting with sterile equipment reduces problems like damping off disease. Take time to prep trays properly before planting.
When sowing microgreen seeds, proper spacing, depth, and density are important:
- Space seeds evenly in rows or scatter for dense growth.
- Large seeds should be planted deeper, small seeds are surface sown.
- Gently press seeds into the soil mix to ensure contact.
- Mist seeds after planting to water thoroughly without displacing.
- Avoid overcrowding which leads to fungus and reduced air circulation.
- Cover certain seeds lightly with vermiculite if needed for germination.
Follow package instructions for optimal planting depth and density. Take care not to sow seeds too thickly. Proper planting technique improves germination rates.
Providing Adequate Lighting
Microgreens require sufficient light for robust growth both during germination and as they mature:
- Place trays adjacent to bright, sunny windows when possible.
- Rotate trays periodically so all sides get equal sun exposure.
- Supplement low natural light with full spectrum grow lights.
- Position grow lights very close to the tops of plants.
- Provide 14-16 hours of light every day via sunlight or grow lights.
- Monitor for signs of leggy growth indicating inadequate light.
Ensuring plentiful light enables the microgreens to pack in vitamins, expand leaves, and develop rich colors. Insufficient light leads to weak, pale growth.
Maintaining Proper Temperature and Humidity
Microgreens thrive best at consistent warm temperatures around 70°F and moderate humidity around 60%:
- Monitor room temperature with a thermometer and adjust as needed.
- Use heat mats below trays or space heaters to add warmth if too cold.
- Remove humidity domes once greens have germinated.
- Gently fan trays to improve air circulation and reduce humidity.
- Add a humidifier nearby to raise humidity in very dry conditions.
Providing favorable growing conditions prevents problems like slow germination, leggy growth, and low vigor. Proper temperature and humidity keep microgreens happy.
Ensuring Air Circulation
Good airflow is vital for healthy microgreen growth:
- Avoid overcrowding trays which reduces air movement.
- Use small fans directed horizontally across the tops of plants.
- Rotate trays daily to expose all sides to airflow.
- Water in the morning so foliage dries fully.
- Remove any fabric domes once the seeds have germinated.
- Watch for condensation build-up and signs of fungus.
Allowing ample circulation and dry periods helps prevent fungal issues like damping off disease. Routine tray rotations also expose all sides to light.
Consistent moisture is crucial but overwatering encourages mold and disease:
- Use a spray bottle to gently mist seeds and seedlings.
- Once plants are established, bottom water trays until soaked.
- Allow at least 1 inch of space beneath trays for water drainage.
- Let the soil dry out slightly between waterings once the greens are mature.
- Reduce watering frequency closer to harvest time.
Proper watering technique provides adequate hydration without waterlogging, promoting healthy roots and vigorous growth.
Troubleshooting Common Issues
With attentive care, microgreens experience few serious problems indoors but watch for:
- Damping Off: Fungus issue remedied by sterilizing trays and improving air circulation.
- Leggy Greens: Insufficient light causes stretched stems – add grow lights.
- Poor Germination: Excess heat, overwatering, or old seeds are potential causes.
- Mold: Reduce humidity and moisture levels while improving ventilation.
- Bolting: Premature flowering caused by high heat or inconsistent watering.
Rapidly identifying and addressing any problems optimizes growing outcomes. Maintaining ideal conditions reduces the troubleshooting needed.
Harvesting and Storing Microgreens
After patiently watching your microgreens grow from seed to sprout to mature plant, the reward of harvesting awaits. Determining the ideal stage of maturity ensures your microgreens will have fully developed their signature flavors, textures, and nutritional qualities. The harvesting process requires a delicate touch to preserve the living greens’ freshness and prevent bruising. Proper post-harvest storage locks in shelf life for extended enjoyment. With the right techniques, you can stockpile your refrigerator with microgreen goodness to enhance meals and snacks for up to 2 weeks post-harvest. Paying close attention to optimal maturity, gentle handling, and ideal storage conditions will help you get the maximum yield, nutrition, and longevity from each microgreen harvest.
Determining Peak Harvest Time
Knowing the ideal stage to harvest ensures maximum flavor and nutrition. Use these visual cues:
- First set of true leaves fully expanded
- Plants reach 1-3 inches in height
- Stems and leaves appear strong and vibrant
- Greens look lush and healthy overall
- Avoid harvesting too early or too late
Harvest windows vary by microgreen variety – for example, radish matures in just 5-7 days while chard takes 14+ days. Monitor new plantings closely as they approach maturity.
General Microgreen Growth Stages:
- Germination: Seeds sprout initially (days 1-3)
- Cotyledons: Seed leaves emerge (days 3-5)
- First True Leaves: Primary sign of peak harvest time (5-14 days)
Aim to harvest most varieties once the first set of true leaves expands for the best flavor, texture, and nutrition.
Harvesting Methods to Maximize Shelf Life
Use proper harvesting techniques to retain microgreen’s freshness:
- Use dedicated kitchen shears for easy, efficient harvests.
- Cut stems above the soil line rather than pulling whole plants up.
- Handle gently to avoid bruising delicate leaves and stems.
- Harvest in the early morning when microgreens are coolest.
- Quickly move greens from heat into refrigeration.
- Rinse harvested greens gently in cool water to remove debris.
- Allow greens to air dry thoroughly before storage.
Proper harvesting maximizes shelf life. Handle microgreens with care and chill quickly.
Proper Storage to Extend Freshness
Follow these storage tips to enjoy microgreens for 10-14 days:
- Spread greens in a single layer on paper towels.
- Refrigerate uncovered greens initially for rapid cooling.
- Once chilled, pack loosely in air-tight containers.
- Place dry paper towels on top to absorb excess moisture.
- Maintain temps between 32-40°F for the longest shelf life.
- Monitor for moisture buildup or decay and remove affected greens promptly.
Proper post-harvest storage is crucial for microgreen freshness. Quick chilling, air-tight containment, and close monitoring enable 2+ weeks of enjoyment.
After cultivating your nutrient-dense microgreens from seed to harvest, it’s time for the best part – enjoying their vivid colors, fresh flavors, and crunch in your recipes! While microgreens can be used in many of the same ways as leafy greens, their petite size and intense tastes lend themselves particularly well to certain usage ideas. Adding microgreens as a finishing touch or garnish allows their flavors to take center stage. Blending them into smoothies infuses each sip with nutrients. Their vivid hues make rainbow-colored salads pop. No matter how you choose to use them, microgreens will bring new possibilities to the meals and snacks you prepare at home.
Ways to Use Microgreens
These tender greens are incredibly versatile:
- Toss microgreens into fresh salads for color and crunch.
- Mix into grain bowls and Buddha bowls.
- Add to sandwiches, wraps, and tacos for texture.
- Blend into smoothies, juices, and protein shakes.
- Fold into omelets, frittatas, and scrambled eggs.
- Use as a flavorful topping for pizzas, pastas, and flatbreads.
- Garnish soups, side dishes, entrees, and appetizers.
- Sauté briefly into stir-fries, hashes, and ramen.
Microgreens bring vivid colors, tastes, and nutrition to any meal or snack. Their mild, fresh flavor complements both savory and sweet recipes.
Nutritional Benefits of Microgreens
These petite greens are nutritional powerhouses:
- Up to 40x more concentrated vitamins and antioxidants than mature leaves
- Rich in carotenoids like beta carotene and lutein
- High in vitamins C, E, and K
- Excellent sources of minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron
- Dense in folate, niacin, riboflavin, and thiamin
- Low-calorie and high fiber
- Contains various phytonutrients and beneficial plant compounds
Microgreens pack immense nutritional value into each tender leaf and stem. Adding them to your diet provides concentrated benefits.
Table 3: Ways to Use Microgreens
|Breakfast||Smoothies, omelets, yogurt bowls|
|Lunch||Salads, sandwiches, wraps|
|Dinner||Pizzas, pastas, stir-fries|
|Snacks||Pesto, hummus, veggie dippers|
Microgreens Recipes and Meal Ideas
Below are just a few delicious ways to enjoy microgreens:
- Breakfast: Microgreen omelet, smoothie with microgreens, microgreen goat cheese toast
- Lunch: Microgreen salad with chickpeas and tahini dressing, microgreen turkey wrap
- Dinner: Microgreen risotto, microgreen tabbouleh, microgreen fried rice
- Snacks: Microgreen hummus, microgreen pesto ricotta dip
- Sides: Sauteed microgreens, microgreen couscous
- Garnishes: Soups, grain bowls, charcuterie boards
Give these nutritious greens a try by mixing them into your everyday meals. Get creative with different flavor combinations and recipes to enjoy their versatility.
Microgreens provide a concentration of nutrients, unlike any other food. These tiny seedlings contain up to 40 times more vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than their mature counterparts. Just an ounce or two of microgreens can provide phytonutrients and carotenoids that would take large servings of regular greens to obtain. Their intense flavors bring a big taste in small doses to dishes.
Beyond nutrition, microgreens offer the joy of gardening indoors year-round. Their rapid growth cycle provides gratification in just 10-14 days. A few small trays can produce an abundant continual harvest for household needs. Microgreens require minimal space and care, making them ideal for urban dwellers without outdoor gardens. Their vibrant colors and tender textures make them versatile ingredients. Simply put, microgreens are edible gems that make it easy for anyone to become a gardener.
Tips for Successful Indoor Microgreens Gardening
More than any other factor, paying close daily attention is key to microgreens success. Consistent moisture, warmth, humidity, and lighting accelerate growth. Good air circulation prevents disease. Careful handling reduces damage. Thorough sanitation of surfaces and equipment avoids contamination. Being diligent to monitor conditions and respond promptly keeps microgreens thriving.
Beyond attentive care, adopting best practices like allowing proper spacing, controlling temperatures, and gentle harvesting optimizes results. Starting with vigorous, rapidly growing varieties builds confidence and skills before advancing to more challenging microgreens. Taking time to prepare trays and select quality seeds establishes a healthy foundation. Indoor microgreens gardening requires just a small daily commitment to cultivate outsized rewards.
Microgreens bring the vitality and possibilities of gardening to any home or apartment, no matter how limited the space. We hope the techniques provided in this guide empower you to start cultivating these nutritional powerhouses yourself. Soon your kitchen could have trays of microgreens providing fresh bursts of flavor and nourishment every day. Growing microgreens alongside your regular produce purchases helps bridge the gap to a more plant-based diet. We encourage you to get started with a few varieties that appeal to you. Before long, tending your trays each morning may become a welcome ritual. Wishing you great success and enjoyment as you embark on your own microgreens journey.