Microgreens are easy to grow – even indoors in winter in Iowa. All that is needed is a few supplies, some microgreen seeds, and a sunny window.
Microgreens vs Sprouts
Microgreens are young, tender seedlings that are usually harvested at the first true leaf stage. Microgreens are a bit older and larger than sprouts. Sprouts are harvested within a day or two of germination and include the entire sprout (cotyledons, roots, and seed). With microgreens, however, only the stem and leaves are harvested and consumed.
Partially fill clean plastic flats, trays, or shallow containers with soilless media and moisten. Broadcast the seed on top of the growing media. One plant species or cultivar is usually planted per container as different species and cultivars germinate at slightly different times. Depending on species, a light dusting of soil may be needed to cover the seeds. Mist the seed bed gently and keep the seed moist, humid, and warm (70℉) throughout germination. As the seedlings germinate, water as needed from below to prevent wetting the foliage. Keep the seed bed and seedlings moist, but avoid overwatering as this can lead to root rots or damping off. Most seeds will germinate within one to two weeks.
Harvest microgreens as the first true leaves develop. The first true leaves usually develop about 2 weeks after germination. Harvest microgreens by simply cutting the stems near the soil line with sharp, clean scissors or a knife. Sanitation is key during harvest and storage. Be sure to wash your hands and all containers and instruments. Most microgreens are approximately 2-3 inches long when harvested. Gently wash the microgreens, then carefully pat or spin dry in a salad spinner. Quickly refrigerate the microgreens in an open plastic bag. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Plant Species for Microgreens
There are several species of plants that are commonly grown as microgreens (see below). Each species of microgreen looks and tastes slightly different. A mix of species is generally preferred.
- Swiss chard