Year-round gardening: Growing microgreens at home | Lifestyle

Microgreens (MGs) are young and tender, edible greens produced by sprouting the seeds of a variety of vegetable species and herbaceous plants. They are nutrient-dense and might be grown year-round in a short time and in limited space. Growing microgreens indoors is relatively easy and it rewards you with fresh, tasty produce.

Many edible plant species can be used to produce microgreens. The most popular are broccoli, radish, cauliflower, arugula, cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, mustard, mizuna, cress, broccoli raab, etc. which are characterized by a seven to eight-day growth cycle. Cereal grains are also common for sprouting such as barley, oat, wheat and corn, as are legumes such as pea, alfalfa, bean, fava bean, lentil and chickpea. Seed companies also offer packets with combinations of vegetables, cereals and legumes.

Supplies needed to get started:

• Shallow container with drainage, such as a plastic tray or pie tin.

• Seeds.

• Growing medium such as a pre-made potting mix.

• Light source.

• Sanitized sharp knife or pair of scissors for harvesting.

Alternatively, MG growing kits are also available at your local garden center.

Add seeds to the container with about 2 inches of growing medium. Since shoots are harvested while they are immature, seeds need to be planted densely, about ¼ inch apart or less. After broadcasting a layer of seed, spread an additional thin layer of medium over the top to cover seeds and press down lightly.

Water the soil so it is moist, but not sopping wet. Fertilization is not needed as the seed itself is a storehouse for all of the nutrients needed to produce the first seed leaves (cotyledons) and emerging true leaves of microgreens.

Check the container daily to make sure the medium stays moist, spraying it once or twice a day, or bottom water the container by placing the growing container in a tray with a shallow layer of water, which it can slowly take up over several days.

Microgreens need about six to eight hours of light per day for optimal growth. A sunny, south-facing window is preferred, or grow lights can be used. You want MGs to stretch towards a light source to form their unique plant structure. This elongation makes them different from typical herbs and produces seed-starts. You want MGs to be “leggy.”

Microgreens grow best around 70 degrees but will tolerate down to 50 degrees, although growing will be slower. A seed-starting heat mat can be used if temperatures are low.

Now crops are harvested when the plant is 2 to 4 inches tall and any true leaves are just emerging. Exceptions are pea shoots, lemongrass, wheat grass and other grains that are tasty when taller.

To harvest MGs, cut the stems about 1/4 inch above the soil line or grow medium using scissors or a very sharp knife.

For more detailed instructions for growing microgreens, see https://extension.psu.edu/a-step-by-step-guide-for-growing-microgreens-at-home and The ABCs of Microgreens at https://extension. psu.edu/downloadable/download/sample/sample_id/18101/

Submit gardening questions to csumg2@elpasoco.com or call 719-520-7684. Find us on Facebook at Colorado Master Gardeners-El Paso County.

Submit gardening questions to csumg2@elpasoco.com or call 719-520-7684. Find us on Facebook at Colorado Master Gardeners-El Paso County.

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