Setting up the indoor garden is a trend these days. People decorate their home balconies with some beautiful plants and flowers. Also, some like to plant fruits and vegetables indoors. Growing fruits and vegetables takes a lot of time. But do you know, there are some plants whose turn around time is less. It means the seeding to harvest happens very quickly. Also, these are much more nutritious than completely grown vegetables. These are called Microgreens. You can easily plant them in a limited space and with a small initial investment. And who knows? Gardening might become a beloved hobby for you, and you start to grow vegetables and fruits shortly as well.
So let us start to know about microgreens in a greater depth!
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are tiny edible plants. These have emerged as a new flavorful ingredient in restaurants and kitchens. Even the top-rated chefs use them to enhance the look, feel, and flavor of the food.
If you get into greater depths, microgreens are immature greens. These are sowed densely and harvested at the sprouting stage. They grow within 10-15 days of sowing. Traditionally, these were in use to garnish dishes. But now, they are used widely, and you can easily find them online or at a grocery store nearby.
While microgreens can be grown indoors very simply, it would be great if you get a good amount of sunlight at your home. You can also use T5 fluorescent lighting or LED when you set up a small microgreen garden for yourself for that added artificial warmth. Let us now know about the benefits of microgreens to convince you to plant them indoors.
What Are the Benefits of Microgreens?
There is a multitude of benefits of planting microgreens. These are:
- The initial investment to set up a microgreen garden is small.
- They are harvested within 10 to 15 days of sowing.
- If you think about selling them, they give you greater returns.
- These are very nutritious. It is because nutrients are packed in the seedlings, and we consume them just after the harvest.
- They are tasty and add an aromatic flavor to the food.
- They come in a variety of textures and colors.
Which Seeds Work Best
So yes, this question strikes every brain before trying to plant microgreens. If you are a beginner, the type of seed you should choose are cabbage, cauliflower, chia, mustard, broccoli, buckwheat, or sunflower. These are the easiest growing microgreens that too in a single container. Or else, if you want, you can plant different seeds in different containers and mix them post-harvesting.
Later on, you can switch to other varieties of leafy vegetables, salad greens, edible flowers, and herbs. Interestingly, these days you can get seeds for salad mixes in the market. So, the packet contains a selected mixture of microgreen seeds that can be eaten with or as a salad post-harvest. The growth rates of these different seeds are similar and have compatible flavors too. This pack also produces beautifully colored microgreens like purple, red, and green. Microgreen gardeners say: More colors mean more nutrients.
The most delicious of all the microgreens are dill, basil, and cilantro. They do not grow very fast, but they add life to your daily food! So, these must be on your planting list! For a successful indoor garden, the key is climate and garden pest control.
When to Harvest
Mostly, microgreens fall into two categories: quick and slow. The quick microgreens can be harvested between the 10th to 15th day after sowing. You can harvest the slow ones between the 18th to 26th day after sowing.
If you are sowing multiple seeds in a single container, please be mindful of the maturity period.
Tools and Material Needed
You will need the following tools and materials to prepare your indoor microgreen garden:
- Growing trays or plastic containers
- Potting soil or any soil
- Trowel or cardboard
- Plastic wrap (optional)
- LED grow lights if you do not have proper sunlight.
- Plant labels (if you are planting multiple seeds)
How to Grow Microgreens
And here comes the most critical question of all: how to plant microgreens? So here is the list of steps you should follow to grow microgreens successfully. The steps are easy to follow, and use bare minimum tools readily available at your home or a supermarket near you:
- Carefully read the instructions mentioned on the seed packet.
- Take your growing tray or container, whichever is available with you. Make holes at the bottom of your container with the help of some sharp object. These will ensure a proper drainage system.
- Take another growing tray (without holes) and put it below the first tray. This will collect the excess water and avoid the creation of a dirty mess below.
- Now put moist potting soil in the tray. The soil should be an inch in height in the tray. The ideal soil for microgreens is potting soil. But any usual soil that is free from pesticides will work too.
- Level the soil with a trowel or cardboard.
- Evenly scatter the microgreen seeds over the soil.
- Now add another thin layer of soil over the seeds. Press this layer of soil as well, with a cardboard or a trowel. Mist this layer of soil with a mister.
- Cover the complete growing tray with plastic wrap or with a humidity dome. You can also use another growing tray to cover it.
- For microgreens to sprout, it needs warmth (not necessarily sunlight) and moisture. Check the tray daily and mist if it looks dry.
- The seeds will sprout in 3 to 8 days. Once it has sprouted, you can remove the tray cover.
- Remember to mist or water microgreens twice every day.
- Now the sprouts need 4 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. If you do not get apt sunlight at your place, use LED lights. Pale green growth is a sign of lesser light.
- Once the true leaves are formed, the microgreen is ready to harvest. The plants will usually be 2 inches tall.
- Use a scissor to harvest at the soil level.
- Enjoy your harvest!
Do you know you can grow microgreens without soil? This is called hydroponic gardening. The water microgreens receive nutrition from water rather than the soil. This type of gardening is a little less messy and reduces the pain of cleaning post-harvest. You’ll be needing two things here:
- Growing medium: You can either choose coconut coir or growing mats. Coconut coir needs little preparation beforehand. Read the preparation instructions on the packet and perform accordingly. And if you are using growing mats, then you are good to go. Just moist the mats, and they are ready to use.
- Water: Water with a pH level of around six best suits the microgreens. You can use boiled water or mineral water if your tap water does not fulfill the pH criteria.
Now following are the steps you should take to plant water microgreens:
- Take a growing tray or container.
- Spread the coconut choir or a single moist growing mat.
- Spread the seeds evenly and cover the tray with either plastic wrap or another container. Keep misting once a day for 3 to 4 days till you see the sprouts.
- Rest all steps are similar as we have followed in the soil microgreens.
It is always a fantastic experience to have your own garden. This hobby keeps you calm and most of all it keeps you healthy! We know how much happiness your own harvest gives. Do plant these cute little nutrient-packed babies at your home, and we are sure you will love them! Relish some delectable soups and salads made of microgreens, or simply use them as garnish!