Monday, April 11, 2011

Growing Micro Greens Indoors

Southern California winters are fairly mild.  We rarely get a frost that wipes out the lingering summer tomatoes so we get some great salads through the winter months when our leafy greens are at their best.  We aren't nearly as lucky in the summer months. The greens in our garden were already bolting by early April, long before the June tomato explosion.   While theres are tons of "other" ways to use your summer tomatoes (caprese salad, bruscetta) I still enjoy the old standby green salad once in a while, and I've been working on ways to keep the greens growing.  I recently read in an Organic Gardening magazine that you can enjoy micro greens grown inside under grow lights or in a sunny window.  I decided to give it a try using some common household products.  The only items I used were:
Plastic shoeboxes
Paper towels
Rocks (small) for drainage
Potting soil
Plastic dry cleaning bags 

Soil drainage is important but I didn't want to drill holes in the boxes.  You never know what these boxes will be in their next life.  I layed down a layer of paper towels to absorb excess moisutre and covered it with a layer of rocks.

I filled the box with potting soil to about 1" from the top.  I planted my seeds:
Baby Mesclun Lettuce - Cut and come againn
Monet's garden mesclun
Baby leaf spinach - Catalina
All my seeds are Renee's Garden seeds.

I reused a dry cleaner bag as a cover for the boxes.  This will hold in the moisture while the seeds are germinating.

The boxes were placed under grow lights, but a sunny window would also work fine.

Once the seeds germinate I will transfer a few of the seedlings to a partly sunny/partly shady area of the garden.  The other seeds will be left in the box to grow.  The plants will be harvested quickly, when they are just an inch or two high.  Since the plants are harvested young, you probably won't need to fertilize them.  Just clip off the leaves to enjoy your favorite salad.  The clipped plants probably won't regrow, but the boxes can be replanted with another crop, or the soil can be composted and the boxes reused for another project.
Thanks to Organic Gardening Magazine for the idea and directions for this project, and for never failing to inspire me to be a better gardener and  steward of the planet.
Be well and happy gardening!

This is a picture of one of the micro green boxes "Cut and come again" baby mesclun lettuce.
The Catalina spinach has also germinated well.

The Monet mix didn't sprout at all prompting me to wonder if I put seeds in the box at all.  I just might have missed a step.

Update on 04/28/2011
My seedlings are about 2" tall and could be transplanted now or allowed to grow a bit more and enjoyed in a salad.

Follow up:
The lettuce is doing well.  I have pinched off some leaves for salads as well as transplanted a bit of it in the garden.

Here's to keeping the greens growing. 

1 comment:

  1. This was a great post. I enjoy Growing Microgreens and this gave me great insights on what i could be doing better.