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Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 2, 2014

Garden Talk: Think small with microgreens

By JEAN THOMSON, Master Gardener | Jul 11, 2013

Good things really do come in small packages sometimes. Microgreens are regular vegetables harvested when they are very young, typically just after the first true leaves form. In many cases, this will be 10 days to two weeks after planting.

Unlike sprouts, which are eaten roots and all, microgreens are snipped off just above the soil line, so they are all stem and leaves. Yet these little sprigs are power-packed sources of nutrients.

What seeds can be planted for a harvest of microgreens? Up to 100 varieties of vegetable seeds have been used.

Among the most common choices are beets, carrots, mustard, kale, peas, radishes and spinach. Any of these will yield a harvest rich in vitamins; when legumes are planted, the harvest will offer protein as well.

Microgreens are a very flexible crop as they can be grown indoors or outdoors and in containers or open garden space.

They can be planted rather thickly as they will not be left in their space for very long. They can also be planted in shallow pots or flats since they will not need much space for root development.

Because of their short growth period, they are quite unlikely to be troubled by pests or diseases. In addition, the seed itself will usually provide adequate nutrition for the plant, so fertilizer will not be required.

After a crop of microgreens is harvested, the same space and soil may be used to plant subsequent crops. Just leave the plant parts remaining after harvest, and they will add organic matter to the soil.

If you choose to mix vegetables in a planting for microgreens, select varieties that mature at the same rate. There’s no need, however, to buy special seeds. Leftovers from your spring garden planting will work just fine.

And if weather or a busy schedule caused you to miss the ideal planting time, take the microgreen route now!

As microgreens are quite perishable, they are ideal choices for the home garden and for same-day use. They are often mixed into salads or used as sandwich toppings; they make lovely edible garnishes for main dishes.

From something small you’ll have bursts of freshness and color along with a nutritional bonus.

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