Like fresh herbs? Try microgreen gardening

Last Updated 10 September 2019, 11:56 IST

Imagine having fresh basil leaves in your spaghetti, or some herbs to give zest to your favourite salad. The taste and fragrance of just-cut herbs is in a different league when compared to store-bought stuff.

But having a full-fledged garden is difficult in the crowded cities of today, particularly for those living in apartments. However, for the gardening enthusiast who still loves fresh vegetables or herbs for the day’s meal, microgreen gardens are the way to go.

Moreover, staying away from pesticides can ensure that the microgreens are really organic.

Microgreens are described as plants that can be harvested when the cotyledon (embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants) has not fully developed. In other words, they are very young vegetable greens, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) in the USA.

A microgreen must be below two inches in length, and it cannot be considered one when it grows longer.

An article published in the NCBI says: “Although they are small, microgreens have delicate textures, distinctive flavors and various nutrients. In general, microgreens contain greater amounts of nutrients and health-promoting micronutrients than their mature counterparts.

“Because microgreens are rich in nutrients, smaller amounts may provide similar nutritional effects compared to larger quantities of mature vegetables,” it adds.

The most common microgreens one can grow are broccoli, radish, basil, cress, pak choi, beet root, coriander, lettuce and many others. Microgreen plant seeds are freely available in the market and even on popular e-commerce websites.

Apart from very little space that is required, the good part of having a microgreen garden is that not much equipment is needed. Small plastic salad or food trays that come with food home deliveries can be used for growing microgreens. Then, the medium is required to plant the seeds. For this, regular potting mix or compost can be used. As they cannot be watered as regular plants, a bottle with a spray is also required.

Microgreen growing kits are also available and might be an easier option if one does not want to look around for individual seeds.

The other important point to note that these microgreens will require about four to five hours of good sunlight per day. So, choosing a place where the microgreen growing trays are kept is vital.

Once a suitable spot is chosen, the potting mix or soil can be spread out on the tray. The seeds are to be sprinkled and then covered with another layer of potting mix or soil. Spray water gently on the top. Initially, a cover might be required on top to enable the seeds to germinate and this could take up to a week. After sprouting, the top cover can be removed.

Water should then be sprayed a couple of times a day. It must be noted that the soil must not be too wet, but there must be just enough moisture to let the seeds germinate and grow.

Depending on the plant, it will be ready to be harvested anywhere from a week to a month.

This way of growing plants is becoming popular. There is a ton of information on the internet that can be referred to for the minute details on how to grow microgreens.

Apart from being fun and easy, growing microgreens is the best way of getting the freshest produce you can ever consume.

(Published 10 September 2019, 11:56 IST)

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