Food Production: Micros in the winter

— Written By

image by Eli Snyder

Does winter have you craving fresh veggies? Are you looking for a way to use your seed starting area before you start garden transplants? If you answered “yes,” then consider growing microgreens indoors this winter.

Microgreens are baby greens harvested when the first true leaves emerge. They can be used as garnishes in soups, sandwiches, or other dishes. Many edible plants make excellent microgreens, including plants whose greens are not often consumed, such as carrots. Lettuces do not make good microgreens because they are too delicate. Common choices are broccoli, dill, basil, beets, and mustards. The flavors are often similar to the mature plant but tend to be more subtle, and the greens are more nutritious.

To grow your own, put soilless media from ½-inch to 1-inch deep into a sterile tray with drainage holes. Broadcast seeds across the entire tray or plant in rows and gently press into the media. Cover with a thin layer of media and keep them watered. Some harder seeds, like beets, will germinate more easily if they are soaked in water before sowing. Different plants used for microgreens vary in time from planting to harvest, but typically the process takes 7 to 21 days. It is easiest to sow only one cultivar in a tray. But if you would like variety, consider planting cultivars that germinate and reach harvest stage in the same amount of time. Pre-blended seed mixes are also available for purchase. Use a heat mat underneath the tray for more even germination. Consider using a grow light if you do not have a south-facing window with good natural light in winter.

To harvest, use clean scissors to cut the microgreens and gently scoop the harvested handfuls into a clean receptacle. Store in the refrigerator in a plastic bag or clamshell until you are ready to enjoy them.
–Elina Snyder

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