Indoor Growing Part 2: Micro & Salad Greens
It used to be that you only saw micro greens on the menu of restaurants, but recently these vitamin-packed, little leaves are appearing everywhere; they can even appear in your kitchen this winter!
Micro greens are vegetables or herbs that are purposely harvested when the leaves and shoots are small and tender. Many people confuse micro greens with sprouts, but there are several differences between the two.
Micro greens are grown in a shallow container of soil, need sunlight to grow, and typically take about two weeks from the time you plant the seeds until they can be harvested. Sprouts are seeds that a germinated in water just until they grow roots, a stem and small, underdeveloped leaves, usually taking two to five days to harvest.
Neither micro greens or sprouts are going to make an entire meal for you, but they both have a lot of nutritional benefits in such small leaves. Adding them to salads, sandwiches and other dishes can add flavor and nutrients. Even better, when grown in your kitchen, micro greens can be snipped and served, you can’t get fresher than that!
To grow micro greens, you don’t need a ton of space or equipment. In fact, one of the best containers to grow them in is a left-over cherry tomatoes or strawberry container. This is a shallow container with drainage, which is just what they need. (You’ll probably also want a saucer for underneath it to keep your counter or windowsill clean.)
Using a seed starting soil, or a very fine potting soil, fill the container until there is a half-inch remaining until the top of the container. Sprinkle your seeds on the top of this soil and be sure to keep the soil moist, not soaking. To water the seeds, you can either mist your seeds or put water in a saucer underneath them. Watering from below and misting helps prevent seeds from splashing out of the container and keeps dirt from splashing onto your greens.
Put your container in a sunny window or under a grow light, and in five to ten days your crops should be ready.
You can buy a micro greens seed mix that generally has a variety of vegetables seeds in it. These can include beets, cabbage, kohlrabi, Swiss chard, mustard and radishes, to name a few. Or you can grow single varieties of vegetables or herbs, like arugula, basil and more.
If you’ve mastered micro greens, you can move on to salad greens. Once you have eaten home-grown, fresh salad greens, you may never want to buy bagged salad mixes again. They are delicious and so good for you.
To grow, you will once again need a planter box that has drainage holes in the bottom. You will want something that is a little bit larger than the container used for your micro greens, but you can still use recycled grocery containers.
Fill the container with potting soil and poke holes in the soil about four inches apart. Sprinkle a few seeds into each hole and fill the hole with soil, covering the seeds. Water the soil once you have your seeds planted, and continue to water the soil regularly, keeping it moist to the touch. Place the container in a bright window or under grow lights.
Once your plants start to appear, pull out all but the largest, healthiest shoots. You can transplant these smaller shoots to another container, being sure to space them out, or discard them. Once the plants have matured, you can harvest them by pulling off the outer leaves while allowing the plants to keep growing. Be sure to not disturb the roots while harvesting.
You can plant almost any salad greens indoors, but the faster growers are better to grow indoors so you don’t have to wait quite so long. To find these, read the seed packages to find the days to harvest.