Also known as "vegetable confetti," microgreens are a generic term for immature greens, harvested soon after their sprouting stage, typically within 10-15 days when the first two seed leaves, also known as cotyledons, have formed. Microgreens are sometimes confused with sprouts — which are germinated seeds that are eaten root, seed and shoot. Big on nutrition and flavor, microgreens can be expensive to purchase. However, they can be grown cost-effectively at home, in a tiny space and with simple supplies. If you have a sunny windowsill, a shallow container, some potting mix and suitable seeds, you've got all the essentials for growing your own microgreens. Among the easiest and fastest-growing crops, microgreens offer a palette of fresh flavors, from mild to spicy, and inspire repeated plantings for an ongoing supply of fresh greens for creative uses.
Salad greens, leafy vegetables, herbs and even edible flowers can be grown as microgreens, though some varieties are better suited than others. Beginners often start by growing one type of seed, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, mustard, radish, swiss chard, sunflower or cress — among the easiest-to-grow varieties of microgreens — in a single container. (You can easily grow different seeds in several containers and mix your microgreens after harvesting.)You can also find seeds for salad mixes and specially selected microgreen mixes that combine greens with similar growth rates, compatible flavors and beautiful coloring including reds, purples and greens. Since they were created with grower success in mind, they're an excellent choice for beginners.
Start by ensuring you have a warm, sunny windowsill and some small, clean containers. Plastic take-out dishes work well, as do clear fruit or salad boxes. If your chosen container doesn't have built-in drainage, poke a few drainage holes in the bottom. Then, prepare to plant:
Depending upon the type of seeds you've selected, your microgreens will be ready to harvest about two to three weeks after planting. Look for the first set of "true leaves" as a sign of readiness. Then grab your scissors and snip the greens just above the soil line. Don’t forget to repeat the process as you can’t use the germinated seedlings once you have harvested the micro leaves. To serve, wash the microgreens with water and dry with paper towels or a salad spinner. Harvest and serve them immediately for the freshest flavor, and add to soups, salads, sandwiches or main dishes. Store remaining cut microgreens in a plastic bag in your refrigerator.