Microgreens are packed with flavor and nutrition.
Ever wonder how you can step-up your leafy green vegetables' production, even long after their growing season is over? There exists certain star quality greens, which have the ability to enhance any star-studded menu line-up or culinary performance. These greens not only look great, but bring out the flavor and freshness of virtually any dish they are paired with, all while providing exceptional nutrition, color and visual appeal. Enter microgreens!
Savvy chefs and others have been known to keep microgreens on their A-list. They have a standing invitation, making regular solo appearances as garnishes, while being paired alongside a supporting cast of featured food items. Rarely upstaged, microgreens really hold their own. They deliver a powerfully nutritious and delicious punch of freshness, while elevating cuisines to stellar levels.
Microgreens are simply young seedlings, which have yet to develop into mature vegetables. They are the fresh, young counterparts of traditional vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, turnips, mustard greens, etc. Microgreens are intentionally harvested as seedlings, before the traditional vegetable reaches full maturity. It is during the seedling stage that microgreens contain its highest levels of vitamins, minerals and nutrient content normally associated with green leafy vegetables. These vitamins and minerals typically include, vitamin A, C & K, calcium, iron, copper, folic acid and magnesium. All of which are extremely vital to overall health and disease prevention.
As far as taste goes, microgreens are never boring. They are very versatile, adding layers of fresh complexity to almost any dish. They literally bring new meaning to the term "farm to table" freshness, as they are often grown indoors, within a few feet of the kitchen table or right outside the kitchen door.
Provide extra care to microgreens when grown outdoors. Photo Credit: Morgue File
If planting indoors, place microgreens in an area which receives a decent amount of sunlight, preferably from a south facing window. If planting outdoors, place microgreens in organic soil in a temperate, protected environment, with southern exposure. The area should be devoid of harsh weather extremes, The area should be free of harsh weather extremes, pest and disease-free.
To begin your own crop of microgreens, start with a sanitized growing tray that is at least 1/2 inch deep. Fill the tray with organic soil. Follow the instructions on each microgreen's seed packet for the recommended depth, spacing and water requirements. You may choose to plant microgreens in stages, to keep harvesting in close succession.
For each 24 hour period, be sure to provide newly planted microgreens with 16 hours of uninterrupted light or sunlight. After the leaves emerge, continue on with the uninterrupted light-dark exposure cycles. Do not change the growing tray's location, unless absolutely necessary. The ideal growing temperatures for microgreens are between 60 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
In some cases, a growing mat may be helpful in the germination process, but they are not required to grow microgreens. Each microgreen's growing environment would best dictate if a growing mat is necessary.
One increases their success in growing microgreens by carefully following the seed packet's instructions to create an optimal growing environment. To learn more about the different varieties of microgreens that you may consider planting, check out the Boot Strap Farmer's website for specific microgreens' characteristics, growth rates and harvesting times.
Keep in mind, there may be factors beyond your control, which could affect your success in growing microgreens. Be sure to plant enough seeds to account for a small percentage of unviable seeds to be included as part of the total yield. Pay particular attention to specific planting and watering instructions. Spray seedlings with a fine mist to avoid damaging delicate shoots, while keeping the soil moist, not soggy, are especially key.
The sooner you plant microgreens, the better. You will be on your way to enjoying your first harvest in no time at all! Popular choices include: sunflower, radish, broccoli, basil and arugula.Try them all for the splendid array of taste and nutrition that they offer. You may be able to purchase microgreen seeds at your local nurseries and garden centers, as well as at reputable plant and seed merchants found online.
You may be wondering if microgreens are worth the expense? For elevating the fresh taste and nutritional value of foods, many feel they are worth the expense. When one considers the overall benefits and value of growing microgreens, their nutritional value alone, can far outweigh the costs of growing them. Certainly those who fully realize microgreen's value from a nutritional and medicinal standpoint, would most likely feel they are worth their expense. Perhaps a better question to ask, is if the quality of one's health is worth the expense of being able to keep these nutritional powerhouses close at hand? Keeping microgreens accessible, increases the likelihood that they will be used to continue to provide the quality benefit of overall good health.
If you are wondering how to start using microgreens in recipes, think about starting from the outside in, as in the outer portion of a plate or dish and progress from there. Since microgreens make excellent edible garnishes, start with adding visual components and flair to your meals. You may then begin to incorporate them on burgers, burritos, sandwiches, wraps, omelets and atop open faced avocado toast or bagels. Microgreens may also be added in soups, pestos or salsas and in tacos and nachos, for an additional elements of freshness.
For a top-rated performance of your green-growing production, few vegetable greens can top the amazing show of microgreens. They continue to earn rave reviews and are truly first rate!
Monica White is a freelance writer, member of the Georgia Air National Guard, and an avid runner and cyclist who loves the great outdoors and all things DIY. She divides her time between Tampa and her central Florida property, where she's growing a self-sufficient homestead. Connect with Monica on her outdoor lifestyle blog, on Facebook, Twitter and
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.