They are tiny, tasty, and trendy. Microgreens are also described as cute, but what are they? Not sprouts; not baby greens, but greens with fully developed cotyledon (first) leaves.
Anyone can grow microgreens in a kitchen window or greenhouse with a shallow pan and 3 inches of clean soil or a sheet of coconut coir. Seeds that you plant will need 4 or 5 hours of light daily within a temperature range of 65 to 75 degrees. Use only herb and vegetable seeds that are labeled for microgreens and have not been coated. Sow the seeds very thickly.
The best seeds to use are cabbage, broccoli, kale, radish, mustard, beets, carrots, chard, basil, cilantro, dill, fennel, parsley, kohlrabi, and arugula. Once planted, microgreens can be harvested in 10 to 14 days. Harvest once cotyledons are fully developed, or true leaves are just beginning to emerge. Larger seeds may take longer. During that time, they should be misted every day. The final product is harvested by clipping them with a pair of clean scissors. The shelf life on microgreens is short, so plan to use them quickly after cutting. The greens should be 2 or 3 inches tall.
An advantage of microgreens is that they can be grown all year, making them a valuable recipe ingredient. They are enjoyed because they appeal to the senses, but they are valued because of their nutrient density. Past research on microgreens confirms them to be high in micronutrients, trace minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins C, K, and E. According to the USDA, the microgreen plant may contain as much as 40 times the nutrients as the mature plant. In recent years, extensive research has begun to determine if microgreens are a practical food source in space. They are also being considered for playing a role in diets that are tailored for specific diseases.
Use microgreens as a garnish for soups or desserts; or as an ingredient on sandwiches and in salads.
Source: Johnnie Davis, Marshall County Master Gardener