Easy Growing Greens
Microgreens are simple and easy to grow in mid-winter. You don’t need a greenhouse or special grow lights to grow these greens. A small space near a bright sunny window to place a couple of shallow trays filled with potting mix is all needed. Microgreens add unique flavor, texture, nutrition, and colors to your salads and other dishes. A research study has shown that nutrient contents in sprouting greens like red cabbage, cilantro, amaranth, and radish microgreens are so rich that they are equally comparable to fully grown vegetables.
Microgreens are broadly grouped as fast growing and slow growing greens. Fast growers take about 10-15 days to reach harvesting stage and slow growers takes about 16-25 days for harvesting. Common fast growing greens are red cabbage, Chinese cabbage (Kogane), kale (Red Russian), kohlrabi (purple), mustards (Golden Frills, Garnet Giant, Scarlet Frills, Ruby Streaks), pak choi (Rosie), cress (Persian, Cressida), radish (Daikon), spinach, and lettuce.
Slow growing greens are amaranth (Garnet Red), arugula, carrot, chard (Rudy Red), mustard (Red Giant), pak choi (Red Pac), basil (Red Rubin, Lemon, Italian Large Leaf), cilantro, fennel (green). Based on their growth rate, you can schedule the seeding time of those varieties individually, and after harvest blend the greens to your desired flavor.
For flavor combinations used in common cuisines, try the following microgreen mixes recommended by Johnny’s seed company:
Asian – basil, cilantro, lemon basil, scallion, saltwort, shiso
Mediterranean – scallion, basil, fennel, parsley, dill
Earthy flavor – kale, tatsoi, Chinese cabbage, collard, beets/chard, purslane, amaranth
Hot/spicy – mustard, cress, radish, arugular
Dessert – fennel, basil, sorrel, shiso, lemon balm
Fish/sea food – fennel, scallion, parsley, basil, dill, cilantro
To start a microgreen garden, use a shallow plastic container or seed tray that has adequate drainage holes. If you plan to reuse old flats, make sure to disinfect them with a combination of 10% bleach and water, and allow to air dry for few hours. Fill the flats with moist potting mix (largely filled with peat) to about a half inch below the rim or your shallow plastic container to about 1.5 to 2 inches. Scatter the seeds densely or with a spacing of ¼” to ½” apart and cover it lightly with potting mix. Using a spray bottle, moisten the media again and place a clear plastic dome or saran wrap on top of the flat to increase humidity around the seeds. Place the flats near a bright sunny window or you can set it under fluorescent bulbs for 16 hours. Once the seeds start to germinate, remove the dome or wrap. As the seedlings start to grow, check the soil moisture once a day. To water the seedlings, use a spray bottle to mist the plants or water the bottom of the flats.
Harvest the greens when they are 2 inches tall. Use a clean scissors to snip the base of the greens. Lettuce and spinach can be allowed to re-sprout for a second harvest. You can refrigerate the harvested greens for 4-5 days in plastic storage bags or containers.
For horticulture-related questions and advice, contact Brown County UW-Extension’s Horticulture Help Desk at 920-391-4615 or firstname.lastname@example.org.