Micro greens: theyre tiny, theyre tasty, and theyre nutritionally superior. Learn how to grow your own.
Micro greens: they’re tiny, they’re tasty, and they’re nutritionally superior. Take, for example, radish sprouts. They not only taste like spicy little radish bombs, but also provide more vitamin C—twice as much, in fact—as full-grown radishes. Immature spinach plants, too, are more nutritionally dense than mature leaves.
But let’s back up. You’re probably wondering to yourself, “What are micro greens?” Put simply, micro greens are the sprouted plants and lettuces that are harvested when they reach between one and two inches high—long before they’ve matured. A variety of plant seeds can be sprouted to grow micro greens, including broccoli, kale, arugula, alfalfa, clover, onion, chia, brown mustard, fenugreek, buckwheat, cress, peas, wheat grass, radishes, and purple cabbage.
To grow your own micro greens, follow these steps from Matthew Kadey, MS, RD.
Step one: Soak large seeds such as chickpeas and peas in water at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Drain and rinse seeds. Smaller sprouting seeds such as broccoli and kale don’t require pre-soaking.
Step two: Fill containers of choice about three-quarters full with potting soil, spreading out as evenly as possible. Plastic containers that strawberries, nuts, or greens such as baby spinach are packaged in work well; simply cut off the lid, poke some holes in the bottom for drainage, and fill with soil.
Step three: Spread seeds over the soil and top with a thin layer of potting soil. Place on a drainage tray and lightly water.
Step four: Place your container in a warm location, ideally between 13 and 25 C. The seeds won’t require direct sunlight until they begin to poke out from the soil, at which point you can place the sprouts in a sunny location such as a windowsill or balcony. Light for micro green production needs not be as intense as what is required for mature plants.
Step five: Water your seeds once or twice per day. You want to keep the soil moist like a damp sponge. Soaking with too much water, however, is just as harmful as not watering at all.
Step six: After seven to 10 days and when about 1 to 2 in (2 to 5 cm) tall, most micro greens are ready for harvesting. To harvest cut the micro greens off slightly above the soil line with kitchen shears. For optimal freshness and nutritional firepower, harvest just before you'll eat them, leaving the remaining micro greens intact.
Step seven: Once the harvest is complete, compost the soil and roots and begin again. Sprouting containers should be thoroughly washed between uses. To assure a constant supply of micro greens, try planting seeds about every four days so once you have used up one batch of greens, another is ready to go.
To incorporate micro greens into your diet, use them as you would alfalfa sprouts: in salads, on sandwiches, on top of poached eggs, or in wraps. Or try out one of our delicious micro green recipes from our recent article “Micro greens.”
Or try these other delicious recipes from alive.