How to grow microgreens – quick guide to quick growers

I’ve been sitting on a post about growing microgreens for years. If ever there was a time to introduce you this grounding activity, it’s now. Microgreens are basically micro versions of plants you would normally grow bigger. They’re kind of like sprouts, except they grow in soil. If you live somewhere where you can access the seeds and compost, I can’t recommend growing them enough.

Here’s why:

 

They shoot up really quickly, which makes them uniquely engaging to observe. They’re an easy win for getting kids excited about growing something and puts food on your plate in very little time. Beyond this, there’s something life affirming about seeing a seed unlock its secrets at a time when we might feel quite static. Going through that cycle in a clearly visible way during the pandemic may be the daily reminder you need that there are some certainties.

They are really easy to grow. We’ll get to how in a minute but suffice to say, you don’t need green fingers for this one, which is great if your attention span and energy are unusually limited during lock down.

Microgreens are nutritionally astounding. They deliver vitamins, proteins and other nutrients in a highly concentrated way and have been linked to a ream of benefits, from boosting immune systems to growing good bacteria. Eating them is basically a quick way to look after yourself at time when you might not feel like it.

They’re delicious! Garnish your soup, salad or sandwich or just snack on them. You can also use them as you would kale or spinach in cooking, baking or smoothies. I’m finding that injecting variety into our days in low key ways so important right now.

They’re fun for kids. They can decorate the box they grow them in, measure them as they grow, make guesses about how long they’ll take, sketch them in their nature journals or find recipes for using them. Our kids like the sunflower shoots for snacking on and will eat the pea shoots as a side at a meal. But I wouldn’t say eating them sums up the value. They don’t eat the radish shoots we’ve grown here but they’ve still got lots out of planting, noticing and cutting them.

On to what you need…

 

Seeds
We’ve found the easiest microgreens to grow are radishes (rambo and china rose), sunflowers and peas. We get our seeds from Sky Sprouts but just search “microgreen seeds”.

Equipment
All you need is a flat container. We’ve used an Oatly carton here as it was suggested by Laurence’s friend Jack’s Patch and we thought it was quite fun with the “Powered by plants” on the side. Lots of you commented on this whenever I shared the growing journey to my Instagram stories so it clearly made you smile too.

Compost
Any multi purpose compost will do. It doesn’t need to be of exceptional quality.

What to do…

  1. Fill your container with compost, pat it down and water it (watering afterwards can leave you with clumps of seeds – we did it after this time so it’s not a nightmare if you forget to do it before).
  2. Scatter seeds densely. Peas can get right up next to each other.
  3. Place in a windowsill. For sunflowers and peas, block the light for a day (put something over the top or stack the trays) before placing them in direct sunlight.
  4. Cut when grown. Take what you need (leaving the rest for a little bit) or harvest everything at once and pop in the fridge. With sunflower shoots, the hulls stay on so brush a hand over them to kock them off. You definitely want to eat them as cotyledons, before they hit the true leaf stage. Sunflower and pea shoots take about ten days. These rambo radish shoots were ready in five!
  5. Compost. When they’re done, they’re done, so put in your compost bin and it’ll return more compost to you in time or you could try putting it in the ground to see what grows.

I’ve tried to answer all the questions I’ve been asked when I’ve mentioned microgreens but please let me know if I’ve missed anything. Happy growing.


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