Due to yet another sodden week on the coast I have turned my focus on the farm from the big picture of house building, garden bed tiling and chook poo spreading, to a much smaller scale farming practice. This week it has been all about micro-greens.
Micro-greens are pretty much as the name suggests – micro and green. It’s really just an indoor way to garden and bring some extra nutrients to your plate. There are many varieties of seeds you can use on your micro-green ‘farm’ and most of the popular salad greens you would normally grow outside do well in this environment. For this particular planting, I have used both a commercial, organic micro-green packet mix and some cress seeds I had in my personal seed bank.
The kids enjoyed helping to prepare the beds (a couple of old plastic raspberry containers one inside the other and an egg carton in a tray) which we filled with potting mix. We then sprinkled the seeds over the soil, followed by another thin layer of potting mix and filled the bottom tray with water for them to soak up. Each day the seeds can either be watered with the gentle mist from a water sprayer or kept moist by keeping the bottom tray topped up.
Our ‘farm’ sat on a sunny(ish) windowsill during daylight hours and, because of the continued grey skies, I popped them under a lamp in the evening. Within a couple of days, we noticed little green shoots rising out of the dirt and within a week we were harvesting our first garnish (this process can be made slightly quicker by soaking the seeds for around six hours first).
When the seedlings have between two and four leaves, you can snip them off at ground level with scissors and wash and eat them as you would your regular salad leaves.
Most greens at this stage are quite nutrient-dense and flavourful as their water content is not spreading this out into a bigger leaf surface. Although many varieties of seed can only be harvested once, there are a few that you can cut and will continue to grow. Once your seeds are spent, you can just pop them into the compost and start again.
Overall, I would say that our first attempt at micro-gardening was a success. I learnt that if you want to make micro-greens a substantial part of your daily meals, it would be wise to stagger your crops to keep yourself in consistent supply, and plant more than 40 square centimetres of ‘farmland’ at any one time!