Seeds germinate into sprouts once they’ve begun to grow. It is the stage of growth that occurs after sprouts, just before baby greens, in the life cycle of healthy plants. It usually takes 7-10 days for microgreens to germinate, depending on the type of plant.
Do any plants produce edible microgreens?
Microgreens and sprouting aren’t possible with every plant. Tomato seeds will not produce a green you’d be interested in eating. Many herbs and vegetables, however, also make amazing microgreens, such as:
- Almost all of the leafy greens you eat as mature vegetables;
- Basil, cilantro, dill, parsley, shiso, and other herbs;
- Plants considered to be “grains,” like corn, amaranth, and quinoa;
Microgreens: Health and Culinary Benefits
Microgreens can be grown for several reasons. There is one such reason: “I have so many seeds that I won’t be able to grow them to maturity in my garden in my lifetime.” Microgreens, on the other hand, are primarily grown for their health and culinary qualities. Essentially, microgreens are both extraordinarily nutritious and can add abundant color to a meal presentation.
Microgreens: Health Benefits
Young sprouts and microgreens pack 15 times the nutritional content per gram than mature plants, according to two studies (one by the USDA and one by the University of Maryland).
As an example, broccoli sprouts and broccoli microgreens contain the highest concentrations of sulforaphane of any plant in the world. It is good to note that, unlike mature broccoli plants, sulforaphane levels in sprouts and microgreens are 20x higher.
What is the significance of this? First, the anti-cancer activity of sulforaphane has been demonstrated in approximately 600 studies.
Microgreens: Delight For Foodies
Seeing your microgreens turn into a delicious dish by a fantastic chef is pretty exciting.
Have you ever been served an ugly plate of food at a nice restaurant? Not likely. There’s a reason for this, too: how you present food can significantly impact how you perceive its quality. The addition of microgreens can transform an ordinary dish into something truly extraordinary, adding color, texture, and nuance.
The taste of microgreens is surprising, considering their small size, adding layers of complexity to each bite.
You’re in luck! It is simple to grow microgreens. Depending on the quality of your seed packets and how quickly they germinate, you can harvest your microgreens within 7-14 days and survive each growth stage just by following the steps below.
This round of microgreens was grown in old clamshell containers from the grocery store. We labeled the lids of each airtight container with a seed variety.
Prepare a shallow tray or a shallow container that is clean and sterile.
Seed starting trays are ideal for growing multiple varieties of microgreens. Using old plastic clamshell containers like those pictured here is a good idea for growing just a few plants or many different types. Make sure that the containers are well washed before using them.
Start by adding 2′′ of damp organic potting soil or seed-starting mixture.
It is crucial to provide healthy, biologically active soil for types of microgreens to absorb nutrients. You should fill your container with two inches of organic seed starting mix. Avoid using soil from your garden bed, as it will likely be too heavy. (Here is the seed starting mix we recommend if you are planning to do a small batch, and our potting soil recommendation if you are planning to do a larger batch.)
Sow seeds densely.
Microgreens are not garden plants, so don’t measure the spacing like you would for regular garden plants. Instead, sprinkle the vegetable seeds closely together on the soil surface while growing various microgreens, but do not pile them up.
Make sure you sow the seeds properly.
Upon spreading the seeds on the soil surface, make sure you note the “sowing depth” directions for the specific seeds you are using. Depending on the seed, it may need to be buried 1/2″ deep or surface sown.
Place an additional layer of seed starting mix on top of buried seeds or potting soil to ensure that the seeds are adequately buried. Ideally, we recommend using a seed starting mix for smaller seeds rather than potting soil (potting soil has larger particles that might sting germination).
Keep covered. Optional: vermiculite.
Garden products made from silicate, such as vermiculite, are standard. The purpose of this is to allow soils to hold on to nutrients and water (it is particularly effective in potted plants and sandy soils). In addition to holding water, it is beneficial for seed starting.
You can cover surface-sown microgreen seeds with a thin layer of vermiculite to help maintain the moisture level – this will speed up germination. Additionally, it will keep your microgreens cleaner as they grow. The use of vermiculite is optional for deeply planted seeds (you can order it here). To help keep the seeds damp before germination, put a lid or cover over your containers.
Patience, Air Circulation, and Moisture.
Make sure your seeds have good air circulation and are kept at a consistent temperature. You should be aware that every seed you plant with microgreens has different recommended adequate temperatures and may take a varied amount of time to germinate. You should not worry if your radishes sprout within 24 hours while your corn and basil have not yet sprouted. For varieties that grow well in warm weather (amaranth, corn, basil, etc.), you might consider getting a heating mat for your seeds. Keep the soil moist with spray bottles and keep it free from debris so that seeds can germinate.
Provide adequate light and water to the seedlings once they have germinated.
Growth! It’s time to expose them and bring them to direct sunlight – may be near a sunny windowsill. First, we cut off the open lids on the clamshell containers to make them fit under the grow lights to identify each variety by their corresponding sticker.
The seeds you planted have sprouted. However, they must remain uncovered to provide better airflow and eliminate excess moisture to prevent fungi and damping off. Soon after germination, your microgreens seeds will need light. A sunny window with a south-facing orientation will suffice if you do not have an indoor grow light setup. You can grow microgreens outdoors under the sun if ambient temperatures are at a level that’s ideal for the type you’re growing.
Eventually, the more mature the plants become, the more water they’ll need, so you’ll want to switch from misting to an irrigation system that can provide plenty of water. Punching or drilling small holes in the lid of water or soda bottles is a great DIY trick.
Our crops included radishes, sprouting broccoli, broccoli raab, corn, two kinds of beets, amaranth, and two types of basil. Radishes grew fastest by a wide margin. To expedite the growth of the basil and corn, we put a seedling heat mat under them.
Harvest, wash, and eat.
Use scissors to remove the microgreens from the layer of soil once they’re ready to harvest (usually within 7-10 days of germination). Then, please place them in a colander and immediately rinse them with cold water. You can now eat them!
Are you not planning on eating your microgreens immediately? They will last for over a week with adequate storage conditions. You can wrap them in an absorbent paper towel inside a zip lock bag and store them in your refrigerator. They don’t require any special treatment before storage.
With this article, we hope you’ll get the most out of your extra seeds and improve the quality of your microgreens!