Admittedly, I've been pretty skeptical of the microgreens trend. Like "baby greens," the term itself lacks a scientific or legal definition. It's a marketing term. And how are microgreens different from sprouts, which are perhaps the riskiest food to eat due to their association with food-borne illness?
This publication from Mississippi State University alleviated my concerns by explaining the differences in how sprouts and microgreens are produced, making microgreens much less likely to be contaminated by harmful bacteria. Additionally, only the stems and leaves of microgreens are consumed, not the seeds; according to the FDA, the seeds are usually the source of bacterial contamination with sprouts.
But it wasn't the science that convinced me to try growing microgreens. It was this charming, goofy video from Mississippi State University.
Why yes, that's exactly how I start to feel as the sky turns gray and the nights grow cold.
Ok, let's do this. I have a clean plastic take-out container. I have some fresh seed starting mix and a mister bottle to gently water the veggie babies without knocking them over. And I have an envelope of mixed Asian greens seeds. Now, using the Internet magic of having actually having assembled all this last week, I present to you:
One challenge to growing microgreens that I've already observed is keeping them properly watered. The depth of soil I used was about an inch, which dries out incredibly quickly. Keeping a clear plastic lid on top helped as the microgreens were just starting to sprout, but they soon became too tall to keep the lid on. Once I removed the lid, I needed to give them a good misting about twice a day. But careful, not too soggy, or you'll encourage mold.
If I decide to get serious about growing microgreens regularly, I'll need a lot more seed, which would be more economical to buy in bulk. Johnny's Select Seeds sells both a spicy mustard mix and a mild Brassica mix as well as individual vegetable and herb varieties. I would think that any quick-growing plant eaten for its leaves should do, though I noticed that Johnny's doesn't list lettuce seed in their microgreens section (though they do sell bulk lettuce seed). The University of Florida explains that lettuce microgreens are delicate and wilt quickly, which makes them unsuitable for commercial growers to sell at the market. But home growers who would snip their lettuce microgreens from their kitchen windowsill only to put them on their dinner plate 15 seconds later (rinsed first, of course) should be just fine. And if your microgreens should happen to get a little overgrown, then just use some marketing magic: ta-da, now they're baby greens!