If you’re looking for something simple and edible to grow at home this winter, microgreens could be ideal. But what exactly are they, and are they worth growing?
Read on for everything you need to know about microgreens, and why they could be one of the most useful edibles you grow. We’ll start with what they are and the many varieties you can choose from.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens might be a term you’ve heard of, perhaps on a restaurant menu or when shopping for salad leaves seeds. But what actually are they?
The first important thing to know is that microgreens are not actually a class of plant. Instead, they are a different way of growing certain types of salad vegetables and herbs to a smaller size. The aim is to give you some salad leaves to enjoy during the winter months, when growing full-size plants may not be possible. So in a nutshell, microgreens are young seedlings of edible vegetables and herbs.
You can cultivate smaller growths of regular salad varieties like lettuce, or choose some of the many naturally smaller varieties. Popular microgreens include:
Why grow microgreens?
So, are microgreens worth growing? In our opinion, yes! One of the best reasons to grow them is because it’s really easy. In fact, microgreens are one of the simplest and most accessible gardening projects you can try.
All you need is a container (a seed tray or even a recycled food tub), a window sill, some paper towels, water and of course, your seeds. Growing microgreens is easy as they’re a reasonably low maintenance crop - all just keep the paper towels moist and harvest the microgreens as soon as they reach the desired size.
It really is that simple. This is why it’s a great entry level project for children, gardening beginners or anyone wanting to grow their own food from scratch. Microgreens can be grown by anyone, even if you don’t have access to a garden or find it difficult to get outside. It’s also great to have a project in winter, when gardening lovers are itching to get outside but are held back by the weather and cold temperatures.
It’s also the case that microgreens take a shorter time to grow than many larger varieties. This is great if you’re introducing easily distractible children to gardening, but it also means you won’t need to think so far ahead if you want a crop of microgreens ready for a specific date. So if you’re planning for a special occasion that’s still a few months away, microgreens could be an excellent addition that won’t take lots of time or effort to prepare.
One of the best things about growing microgreens is the amount of variety available, meaning there’s something for everyone. Microgreens are amazing for tossing into salads, adding some interesting and subtle flavours to liven up your usual meal. Depending what you choose, you could end up with herby, peppery, earthy or even citrusy notes.
And as you can probably guess, microgreens have nutritional benefits too. As you’re eating a seedling just after it has sprouted, you’re benefitting from a nutrient-dense raw plant. This provides a more concentrated source of vitamins and minerals. This doesn’t mean that your full-sized lettuce isn’t good for you though, it’s just that a mature plant will have spread its nutrients out across many different leaves, so they’re less concentrated.
You can eat microgreens with almost anything, whether on the side as a garnish, added to a salad or sprinkled into a stew. It’s a great and affordable way to get fresh greens into your diet during the winter, without settling for out-of-season imported veg from the supermarket. You can simply grow your own at home, all year round.