By Marty Ross
Garden shop seed racks teem with inspiration for the season to come. Even though it’s much too cold to garden outside, I already have my fingers in the dirt—potting soil, actually, because I have a flourishing crop of microgreens on my windowsill.
I found microgreens among the seed packets on display this year, giving me a good excuse to start gardening indoors long before I can plant outside. Microgreens are ready to grow anytime. They’re easy to sow and quick to sprout, and they’re the freshest, most local ingredient possible for salads, sandwiches and omelets. Since you harvest them when they are only a couple of inches tall, they never outgrow your windowsill.
I started with a packet of mixed microgreen seeds, including beets, Swiss chard, radishes, mustard, cress and kohlrabi. You can grow microgreens in small, shallow containers—a takeout food box or 3-in peat pot works fine. Or look for a special microgreen-growing kit. Fill the container with a couple of inches of potting soil, moisten the soil and sow seeds on top. I used about a teaspoon of seeds for a container 6x3 inches.
Cover the seeds lightly with potting soil and spritz with a mister. To create a little greenhouse for your seeds, cover the container with a top, or slip it into a clear-plastic produce bag and close it with a clothespin. Set the container in a spot where it receives bright but indirect light.
After a day or two, when the seeds have sprouted take the top off and mist the seedlings. As the tiny greens grow, the soil should be moist but not soggy. In three or four days you’ll have 1-in-tall seedlings. In five or six days you can snip some off to garnish a salad, or let them continue to grow for up to two weeks, until secondary leaves develop. Then harvest your crop with a pair of scissors.
My windowsills are not very wide, but I’m growing more tiny plants than I can count, and enjoying every fresh, tangy bite of homegrown microgreens.