For many of us, nighttime temperatures are still too low to chance planting tender greens outdoors, but spring is a perfect time to start a windowsill microgreen garden. In fact, you can get one started pretty much anytime at all.
Smaller and younger than baby greens, microgreens are harvested when they are only a few weeks old and only about an inch or two in height. Since you only have to keep them alive for a few weeks, microgreens are easy to grow and they add a tangy taste to salads and sandwiches.
What’s even better is that microgreens pack a big nutritional punch to the foods they garnish. United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) studies have demonstrated that young microgreens can have up to 40 times the nutritional benefits of the mature versions of the same plants.
Here are the simple steps to growing microgreens on your windowsill.
1. Select the right seeds.
Purchase seeds sold specifically for sprouting. You can find a selection at most health food and garden stores, or you can shop online for organic seeds. Some easy-to-grow options include:
- alfalfa – Have a crunchy and crispy texture. Harvest in two to six days.
- mung beans – Add taste and texture to stir-fry dishes. Harvest in four to six days.
- chickpea – Have a pleasant mild taste that is found in many Asian dishes. Harvest in two to four days.
- beets -- Have a mild beet taste. Harvest in three to six days.
- lentils – Have a nutty, almost peppery taste. Harvest in two to four days.
- mustard and cress – Have a spicy, peppery taste. Harvest in seven days.
- Azuki beans -- Have a nutty, sweet taste. Harvest in four to eight days.
- green peas -- Have a sweet taste. Harvest in two to three days.
- radish – Add crunch and radish taste to salads. Harvest in five to seven days.
You can also try microgreen mixes that are packaged in mild or spicy combinations.
2. Choose the right container.
You can recycle many of your small plastic containers for a windowsill microgreen garden. Punch holes in the bottom of the clean container and then repurpose the lid as a drainage tray.
Standard flat seedling trays also work well.
3. Use the right soil.
Fill each container with about two inches of organic potting mix. Lightly tamp down the soil to create a smooth surface before scattering your seeds on top. Cover the seeds with another thin layer of soil and then add water gently.
Now place your trays on a sunny windowsill. Water once each day so that the soil is moist like a damp sponge.
4. Harvest your greens.
In just a few days to a week (more in the winter when sunlight hours are fewer), you can harvest your microgreens. Use kitchen scissors to snip the plants off just above the soil line as soon as you see their first leaves begin to unfold.
5. Enjoy your harvest.
Add your fresh microgreens to salads, soups and sandwiches.
6. Grow another crop.
Since you are harvesting the sprouts, you cannot regrow the same microgreens However, you can start the simple process over again with new seeds. What is more is that if you had a healthy harvest, you can re-use the same pots and soil for your next crop.
Simply remove the leftover stems and roots from your containers. Then lightly till the soil with a fork, pat down the surface and begin again.
With very little time, effort or expense, you can have a steady crop of microgreens for your family’s meals.
Here are a few helpful websites for more information: