What are Micro Greens?
The term micro greens refers to a variety of vegetables and herbs that are harvested at the first or during the early leafing stage. Examples of micro greens include: arugula, amaranth, beet, basil, cabbage, carrot, chard, cilantro, cress, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, radish, sorrel, and more. Micro greens are younger and tenderer than baby greens. They may be small in stature, only one to three inches tall when harvested, but they aren’t lacking in flavor. You’ll find that each micro plant’s flavor is more intense than the vegetable or herb would be if it was grown to maturity.
Although harvested micro greens look similar to sprouts, they are not the same. Both are raised indoors due to the fragile nature of the tender, young plants. Sprouts are grown in water, without soil, and are eaten with their germinated seed intact. Micro greens are planted and grown in soil, and are harvested with scissors or other cutting tool. The tiny plants have a long root system that absorbs minerals from the soil, thus enriching their phytonutrient content, and flavor. In fact, micro greens have been reported to have significantly higher concentrations of nutrients than their mature counterparts.
Micro greens were first introduced to the public in the 1980s by California fine restaurant chefs, but are making their way across the continent into various farmers’ markets, grocery stores, and seed catalogs.
Growing Micro Greens
Seed companies offer a wide range of micro green seeds you can grow at home. Single seed varieties, as well as mild and spicy mixes are available. Growing your own isn’t difficult or costly to do.
Micro greens can be grown indoors year round with lights and supplemental heat. Place seed trays on a bench or table top in a greenhouse, garden shed, garage, basement, or in a sunny room.
2 or more growing trays with domed lids
Soil mix and vermiculite
Seeds, single variety or a combination mix
Heating mat and a full-spectrum grow light, when growing off-season in an unheated setting or in a room without exposure to sunlight.
Broadcast seeds thickly on the surface of the soil in the tray. Cover seeds lightly with vermiculite or sowing mix. Mist or bottom water to avoid disturbing the seeds. Cover with a domed lid. Place on top of a heating mat and under a grow light when growing in cooler temperatures.
For success, follow the seed company’s specific growing instructions. For more information on growing micro greens watch this video clip by Johnny Seeds.
Harvest time ranges from under two weeks after germination to four weeks, depending on the growth rate of the seed variety and growing conditions. Beets, carrots and chard take longer to grow than mustard and radish greens. To harvest, clip the desired amount of greens from the tray, above the soil, with scissors. To harvest the entire tray of greens at once, use an electric knife. Store harvested greens in the refrigerator.
Once the micro greens are harvested, the soil is removed from the tray and fresh soil is added before broadcasting new seeds. To keep a continuous supply of micro greens ready to eat, plant more than one tray of seeds in succession.
Serving Micro Greens:
These tiny greens can be enjoyed in gourmet salads, hamburgers, tacos, and in artisan sandwiches. Garnish any entrée with a pinch or two of these flavorful greens for plate and palate appeal. Micro greens are best eaten raw, so toss them into dishes after removing from heat – just before serving. To add texture, and robust flavor fold into scrambled eggs, omelets, egg salad, potato salad, and coleslaw. Top bowls of soup, stew, beans and steaming rice. Serve as a bed for fish or steak entrées. Toss into any blender beverage to amp your nutritional intake.
By Deborah Tukua
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. She is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success. Check out Lowell and Deborah's super sturdy and handsome DIY Gardening Potting Bench Plans.