Gardening: Micro greens quick to grow, perk up diet
Micro greens are all the rage with foodies these days and for good reason: A study at the University of Maryland reported micro greens are up to 40 times more nutritious than the mature plants when harvested less then 14 days after germination, at 1 to 3 inches in height. And the good news is they are a snap to grow.
Any shallow container that holds 1 to 2 inches of potting soil will do. The standard black plastic trays available at garden centers work well. If you plan to “grow” on a windowsill, the blue containers that mushrooms come packed in are perfect. Just punch a half dozen holes in them, as good drainage is key to success.
An organic potting soil or seed starting mix is your best choice. Seeds contain enough food to sustain the plant through the production of its first set of leaves, so fertilizer is not necessary.
To begin fill your container with an inch or so of potting soil and level it out. Using a soil press (a piece of cardboard) gently flatten the soil, but do not compact it. Next sprinkle the seeds evenly over the soil. Then using the soil press gently press the seed making sure they make contact with the potting soil. Now cover the seeds with a piece of paper towel and water the trays using a fine shower from a watering can or a sprayer. Placing a plastic lid or sheet of plastic wrap over the container will help keep the soil moist. Keep the paper towel moist by spritzing it with a sprayer once or twice a day, as needed. When all the seeds have sprouted remove the plastic covering and paper towel and place the seed tray under lights or in a south-facing window.
When the heart shaped leaves have developed, harvest your micro greens by cutting them off just above the soil line. Once harvested rinse and eat them or store in clean glass jars or plastic bags in the refrigerator.
If you get into growing micro greens you’ll want to start playing with mixes. Mustards, arugula, radish, cress and basil are all strong flavors. The flavors of micro greens are often more intense than their mature versions.
Growing micro greens with kids is a great way to introduce them to veggies. If all else fails you can add them to a fruit smoothie.
The Botanical Interests catalog lists 12 varieties of micro green seeds and seed blends to choose from: botanicalinterests.com (877) 821-4340.
Nancy Szerlag is a master gardener and Metro Detroit freelance writer. Her column appears Fridays in Homestyle. To ask her a question go to Yardener.com and click on Ask Nancy. You can also read her previous columns at detroitnewscom/homestyle.