Growing micro-greens is fast and easy and can be a rewarding winter activity. Micro-greens are edible greens where their tender leaves and stems are harvested during early sprout to immature plant growth stage for use in salads or stir fry.
To start your micro-green garden, select a clean seed tray/flat or shallow plastic container with drainage holes. Fill the flats with moist potting mix (donít use top soil for media as it may carry fungal diseases) to just about a half inch from the rim. If youíre using shallow plastic containers, fill with the potting mix to about 1Ĺ to 2 inches.
Scatter the seeds evenly across the soil and cover lightly with potting media or use your fingers to press the seeds lightly in. You can use fast-growing micro-green seeds like Chinese cabbage (Kogane), kale (Red Russian), kohlrabi (O.P. purple), mustard (Golden Frill, Ruby Streaks), pac choi (Red Choi, Kinkoh), radish (Daikon, Hong Vit, purple radish), spinach, and lettuce. Slow-growing greens like carrot, celery, chard (Ruby Red), amaranth (Garden Red), basil (dark opal), beets (Bullís Blood, Early Wonder), peas (Dwarf Grey Sugar), arugula and fennel (Magnafena) can take up to three to four weeks for harvest. Browse through seed catalogs for prepackaged salad mixes.
After seeding, carefully water with a gentle sprinkle from the spray bottle. Place a clear plastic dome or a saran wrap on the top of the flats to hold the moisture. Set the flats under your regular fluorescent bulbs for 16 hours using a timer. Remove the plastic dome when the seeds begin to germinate. Mist the seedlings at regular intervals to keep the soil media evenly moist until the final harvesting. Be careful not to overwater.
Typically, many greens are harvested at a very young stage (about 3-4 inches tall and with about 4 or more leaves) for their nutritious content. Lettuce and spinach can be allowed to re-sprout for second harvest.
ó Vijai Pandian is horticultural agent/educator for Brown County University of Wisconsin-Extension.