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Nutritious Microgreens: Plant, Grow, and Harvest in a Week

No matter where you live or the time of year you can grow fresh microgreens on your kitchen counter, in a sunny window, or under lights.  In as little as a week to ten days, you’ll make your first harvest for garnishing, snacking, or on your favorite sandwich or salad.

All you need are seeds of lettuce, greens, mustard, radishes, beets, peas, and even sunflowers. Buy organic seeds or those labeled for sprouting or to use as microgreens to ensure they haven’t been treated with harmful chemicals. You’ll also need some type of container to sprout the seeds and planting mix or grow pad. Or consider purchasing one of True Leaf Market’s Microgreen Kits that contains everything you’ll need to get started.

Select a kit that best fits your needs and eating habits.  The smaller kits allow you to grow smaller amounts and a variety of microgreens. You can make successive plantings of the same or different greens, so you always have a fresh supply. If you and your family enjoy using microgreens in a variety of ways you may prefer growing larger amounts. That way you always have plenty to enjoy and maybe a few extras to share with others. And for busy people, you might want to consider a self-watering option that makes this easy gardening technique even easier.

You can grow any microgreens in soil and most hydroponically. Sunflowers, peas, buckwheat, chard, beets, and cilantro grow best in soil. True Leaf Market provides step-by-step instructions to help you successfully grow a crop of microgreens no matter your experience.

Start by soaking the seeds in cold water for 12 to 24 hours for faster and greater sprouting. Smaller seeds like mustard and broccoli do not need this treatment. The seed packet will provide more specific instructions for the seeds you are growing. Rinse the seeds with cold water before planting.

While the seeds are soaking, prepare your containers for planting. A shallow container with drainage holes is all you need. Fill the container with a moist well-drained planting or seed starting mix, leaving about ½” of space between the top of the container and the planting mix. Create a flat surface for planting and gently tamp the planting mix to remove air pockets and create a flat surface for planting.

Mist the soil surface and evenly sprinkle the seeds over the soil. Gently tamp the seeds or mist them to ensure good seed-to-soil contact. Planting seeds this way makes harvesting a bit less messy. Or you can lightly cover the seeds with soil.

Set the container on a tray to protect the surface below. Once planted, cover the container with a lid to boost humidity and reduce the need for watering. Some gardeners use an opaque cover to trap humidity and keep the seeds in the dark for sprouting. Check soil moisture daily and spritz with water as needed. It should remain moist but not soggy wet. Remove the cover in 2 or 3 days once the sprouts break through the soil. Then move it to a bright location or under artificial lights.

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Or skip the planting media and go hydroponic using a growing pad instead. This makes harvesting clean and easy and works well for broccoli, kale, arugula, cabbage, cauliflower, mustard, and radish seeds.

Select a container with drainage holes and cut the grow pad made of jute, bamboo, or similar material to fit the container as needed. Thoroughly moisten the grow pad fabric. Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the pad’s surface, leaving about twice the size of the seed between each. Planting too close can result in a tangled mess and poor growth. Use a spray bottle to water and firm the seeds in place.

Use an opaque cover over the top of the tray to provide the needed darkness for the seeds to sprout.  Check the seeds twice a day and mist them as needed.  Remove the cover in 3 to 5 days once the seeds have sprouted and started to grow. Move the sprouts into a bright location, a sunny window or under artificial lights and continue to water as needed.

No matter whether you grow your microgreens in a planting mix or on a grow pad, they are ready to harvest when the microgreens are 2 to 4 inches tall. This is when their first set of true leaves, which resemble those of the mature plant, are just starting to emerge. This usually takes 7 to 10 days but may be longer depending on the type of seed. Once again, the seed packet will give you more information on when you can expect to make your first harvest.

Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the greens about ¼” above the soil or grow pad. Gently rinse and spin the greens dry and enjoy. Most microgreen crops should be harvested within 14 to 15 days from planting for the best flavor and freshness.

It is best to harvest and use microgreens immediately. Rinse the microgreens under cold water and dry them immediately by placing them on a paper towel. A salad spinner or a fan on low speed can help speed drying.

You can store freshly harvested microgreens in the refrigerator for about a week. Wait to rinse and dry them right before you plan to use them. Storing wet produce, including microgreens, can lead to bacteria and mold developing more quickly than when stored dry.

Once you grow your first crop of microgreens, you will be looking for more seeds to try, space for growing, and ways to include them in your meals.

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