All that you need to know about microgreens

by Sanjeev Kapoor

Micro greens have taken over the world over by storm. While these chefs’ favourite might cost you a bomb to purchase at the supermarket, growing them is just as simple and inexpensive! 

What are Micro greens?
Micro greens are exactly what the name says. They are leafy vegetables or salad crops which are harvested at a very early stage – while they are just a couple of weeks old and about 1 -2 inches tall. Crops in their micro form are very healthy and look beautiful as a garnish! 

Why you should grow them?

  • Micro greens are ultra-healthy even in comparison to their healthy grown counterparts.
  • They are cost effective and completely fuss free to grow.
  • Micro greens are at their healthiest when consumed quickly, so what better way than to grow them in your garden.
  • They look as good potted as they do on your plate. Get rid of ornamental plants and grow these multipurpose ones instead!
  • Packed with flavour and nutrition, these super foods add plenty in terms of flavour, presentation, texture and health of to any dish they are used in!

What can you grow as a microgreen?
There is no limit to this, any leafy vegetable or salad crop can be grown in its micro form. Basil, coriander, sunflower, kale, arugula, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, raddish, beetroot and carrots – take your pick. From mild to spicy, sweet to bitter or peppery - note that the flavour of a micro green may be nothing like that of its grown counterpart. Plant these separately in individual pots or plant rows of them in one large space. If you cannot decide what you want to start with – just buy a prepackaged seed mix and sow away! 

Where should you grow these?
Since micro greens are harvested when they are very young, they do not need much room to grow. You don’t need an expansive terrace garden - little designer pots, plastic take out containers, an old jewelry box or even a biscuit tin that doesn’t hold biscuits anymore, will do just fine. All you need to keep in mind is that there should be an outlet for the water to drain out. So punch little holes at the bottom of a container and voila you can start gardening. 

What about the conditions to grow them?
Read on and you’ll be surprised at how fuss free, practical and simple these are to grow! 

Compost - An organic mix of compost, packed with necessary minerals and fertilizers is readily available in super markets these days and are perfectly suited for growing micro greens. If finding that is difficult any kind of soil, a cloud of cotton or even a muslin cloth is good enough as a medium. The important thing here is to use something that will remain moist enough to enable the seeds to germinate.

Sunlight – The more sunlight your potted plant will get the more nourished it will be. Keep them in direct sunlight. If you are growing them inside your house, make sure they get enough sun’s rays through the glass window or keep them out for a while in the mornings. Micro greens that get the benefit of direct sun’s rays are greener, crisper and will be healthier than ones grown indoors.

Water – Since these plants are tiny, spraying them with water is more than enough. Water the compost or soil lightly before sowing the seeds.
Start the process –

  • Pick out your container (don’t forget the holes for draining excess water) and fill it three quarter with the pre moistened compost mix.
  • Sow your seeds with about ½ an inch distance between them, even these micro plants require a little room to grow.
  • Cover with the rest of your compost mix and if you want, enclose them in plastic wrap to maintain the warmth required for germination.
  • The next step is to wait for a few days before you can reap the benefits of what you’ve sown – quite literally!  

How long will they take to sprout?
Micro greens are harvested when the plant just begins to sprout; the leaves are tender and young. Any type will take no more than 2 weeks to be harvested. The seeds will take around 2 days to absorb moisture from the soil after which the germinating process starts. While plants like, wheat will take a while longer, mustard will sprout much faster. If you want to speed up this already quick process, soak the seeds in water overnight before planting them in moist soil. Once the micro greens have sprouted, pick a handful and harvest with a pair of kitchen scissors.

How should you use them?
Barely have you gone through the effortless process of planting your own micro greens and watch as these little beauties start to sprout, it’s time to harvest them! Once they are about 1 – 2 inches high, depending on what you have sown pluck these leaves and add them to salads, as garnishes to main dishes, for a crunch in soup or try caramelizing the tips and even use them in a dessert!

Recommended recipesWatermelon and Papaya Salad,  Four Bean Salad,  Pasta with Greens,  Moong Beans,  Palak aur Strawberry Salad,  Crackling Spinach,  Raw Banana with Greens,  Green Chana Chaat,  Sprouts Cutlet.

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MasterChef Sanjeev Kapoor

Chef Sanjeev Kapoor is the most celebrated face of Indian cuisine. He is Chef extraordinaire, runs a successful TV Channel FoodFood, hosted Khana Khazana cookery show on television for more than 17 years, author of 150+ best selling cookbooks, restaurateur and winner of several culinary awards. He is living his dream of making Indian cuisine the number one in the world and empowering women through power of cooking to become self sufficient. His recipe portal www.sanjeevkapoor.com is a complete cookery manual with a compendium of more than 10,000 tried & tested recipes, videos, articles, tips & trivia and a wealth of information on the art and craft of cooking in both English and Hindi.