March 27, 2013 | Donna Balzer
Grow Micro-Greens Indoors
Pea sprout greens are the coolest thing I have grown so far this year. Yes it's still weeks away from growing outdoors in Calgary but my little pea sprouts have been making a statement in salads for months already.
The sprout snips are sweet and fragrant and taste like – well – peas.
Putting a closet, basement nook or condo storage room to a higher use by growing salad greens with simple hardware store items had me eating local shortly after planting.
To get started growing your own micro-greens, find a closet or nook with an electric outlet. Buy or repurpose a double 48" (122 cm) fluorescent fixture and install two cool-blue bulbs. Purchase four 11" x 21" (28 cm x 53 cm) black plastic trays – two with drainage holes and two without drainage. If you are sprouting seeds you only need a jar and water, but if you are growing micro-greens you need potting mix. Use Pro-mix or Sunshine brand mix from a garden center, moisten it slightly and put a knuckle depth into the bottom of the two trays with drainage.
Sprinkle seed on the top of the soil in the flats; water until trays drip and set planted trays into the trays without drainage. Cover the works with a loose-fitting sheet of plastic. Seeds don't need light until they sprout but they do need a warm spot. Place flats in a warm area such as the heated floor in your bathroom or on top of your fridge. I planted a whole tray of peas and a second tray with mixed seeds. As they start to sprout, remove the plastic so they don't get moldy and place them about six inches (15 cm) below the lights for twelve hours a day.
I grew peas because I love sprouts in salads and sandwiches. Green, purple and red-leaved seedlings such as Kale, mustard, beets, lettuce and oriental vegetables also grow indoors or outside in the garden. Two favourite micro greens are red-leaved lettuce and Redbor Kale, a super cute fine-leaf sprout with purple leaves. I have seen lettuce sprout overnight in warm moist soil, or take weeks to sprout in a cool garden. Peas take four to five days if started over heat. If kept indoors, shoots can be grown, snipped and eaten for weeks on end as long as they are watered and cared for.
Hint: if your space is in a cool basement, the plants will be stocky and full of life. If your closet or dedicated grow shelf is too warm spot consider putting a fan in the area to keep the air moving and the space a little cooler.
Balzer is the author of No Guff Vegetable Gardening. Her garden blog entries can be found at GardenGuru.net
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