Do you want to start a new hobby, learn to grow your own food, and get more veggies in your diet — all in just a few minutes a day?
If so, microgreens are perfect for you.
Microgreens are young vegetable greens that grow to about three inches tall. They became popular in the 1980s, when chefs began growing a wide variety of microgreens to enhance their food.
You can get microgreen versions of all your favorite veggies: kale, arugula, chard, radish, cilantro, salad greens, and more.
Microgreens are packed with nutritional value and offer quite a few health benefits. Best of all, it’s easy to grow your own microgreens — all you need is a sunny windowsill, some potting mix, a couple small containers, and some microgreen seeds.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are young vegetable greens that grow about three inches tall.
Unlike sprouts, which don’t produce leaves, microgreens are baby greens that have grown enough to release their first sprouting leaves (called cotyledons), followed by nutrient-dense true leaves.
Depending on their type microgreens are ready to harvest about 7-21 days after you plant them. They offer a ton of nutritional value and flavor, and they’re very easy to grow, even in a small apartment. If you have a sunny windowsill, you can grow your own microgreens.
The Benefits of Microgreens (And Why You Should Grow Your Own)
There are quite a few reasons to grow your own microgreens.
Despite their small size, microgreens have a concentrated nutrient content and are packed with flavor[*]. They have up to 40 times the nutrient content of mature plants[*][*], which means that adding even a sprinkle of microgreens to your meal is like getting an extra serving of veggies.
Microgreens aren’t just for health, either. Their concentrated flavor makes them an excellent cooking ingredient, enhancing the taste of sauces, salad dressings, and other toppings or condiments. You can also blend microgreens into smoothies.
Microgreens May Lower Your Risk of Chronic Disease
Microgreens are particularly high in phytonutrients, polyphenols, vitamin C, carotenoids and other antioxidants[*]. Antioxidants relieve inflammation and prevent cellular stress and aging, which can reduce your risk of developing several common health issues[*].
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One study found that red cabbage microgreens decreased blood lipid levels, one of the main risk factors for heart disease[*].
Another study found that fenugreek microgreens improve insulin sensitivity, which may help reduce risk of diabetes[*].
Microgreens are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. They’re an all-around great food to eat.
What You Need to Grow Microgreens
Microgreens are low-maintenance and very easy to grow. Here’s what you need to grow your own.
There’s no difference between microgreen seeds and normal seeds. You can grow microgreens using any normal, high-quality seed packet.
That said, you want to be sure you pick seeds that grow plants with edible leaves. For example, nightshades — tomatoes, eggplants, potatoes, etc) — have toxic leaves that aren’t safe to eat.
To take out any guesswork, some companies sell microgreen mixes online that contain only microgreen-friendly seeds. They’re a good place to start if you aren’t sure what greens you want. The next section in this article will also list vegetables that make good microgreens.
You need something in which to plant your seeds. It doesn’t have to be anything special: you can just pick up a tray and some potting soil from your local home improvement or garden store.
Alternatively, you can buy a single-use hydroponic growing mat that holds the perfect amount of water to support microgreens.
Single-use mats are especially hygienic and easy to use, but they’re also more expensive. If you want to keep costs down, potting soil is just fine.
Sunlight (or a Grow Light)
Microgreens do best when they get 12-16 hours of sun exposure a day.
A sunny windowsill will be just fine for microgreens. If that’s not an option, you can also use a small grow light.
A Few Basic Home Items
You’ll also need:
- A small tray, pie plate, or other shallow containers to fill with growing medium
- A spray bottle
- Paper towels
How to Grow Microgreens
Once you have everything you need to for your microgreens, it’s time to start growing them.
Growing microgreens could not be easier. Here’s what you do:
- Fill your container 3/4 of the way with damp potting soil.
- Sprinkle on your microgreen seeds in a generous, even layer over the top of the soil.
- Top the seeds with a thin layer of more soil.
- Use a spray bottle filled with water to mist the seed and soil mixture.
- Cover the tray loosely with plastic wrap.
- Check on your tray each day, misting as needed to keep the soil damp.
- Once you have germinated seeds (you start to see little sprouts), remove the plastic wrap to expose them to sunlight.
- Mist with the spray bottle once a day and watch your microgreens grow.
- After about a week, you should have fully grown microgreens.
To harvest, snip your greens just above the soil line, leaving a little bit of the plant poking up through the soil.
And remember, you don’t have to harvest all your microgreens all at once! Only snip away what you want to eat, and leave the rest to continue growing, using them as you want them.
What Seeds Make Good Microgreens?
Microgreen seeds should create plants with edible (and delicious) stems and leaves. When choosing seeds, you want to make sure the plants they produce are safe to eat.
Fortunately, we’ve made things easy for you. Here is a list of plants that make great microgreens:
- Red cabbage
- Mung beans
All of these seeds yield flavorful, nutrient-dense microgreens.
Microgreens are easy to grow. They’re inexpensive and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. They even taste great — their concentrated flavor is far better than any mature plant you’ll find in a grocery store.
If you’re interested, maybe you should try growing your own microgreens. They’re a great addition to any healthy diet. And fit perfectly into any low-carb, keto diet.