Microgreens have long been praised for their vitamin-packed leaves, but you don't have to visit a high-class restaurant anymore to enjoy their nutritional benefits. If you're looking to add color, flavor, and nutrition to your diet—and try out a new gardening project—you'll be pleased to know that you can grow microgreens right in your own kitchen in only a few simple steps.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are a type of young vegetable or herb harvested shortly after its leaves begin to grow. They can come from plants like basil, arugula, kale, and more, and they contribute more vitamins and nutrients to meals than the plants do once they're full-grown.
Microgreens are classified as the stem and leaves that a seed grows when it germinates. They include cotyledons—the very first leaves a seed grows—as well as the first set of “true leaves,” which typically emerge after the cotyledons do. Cotyledons are often rounded or heart-shaped, while the first true leaves will look like a tiny version of the plant’s full-sized leaf.
This new indoor gardening trend isn't just simple; it's also cost-effective to keep fresh greens ready in your kitchen anytime you want to spruce up a meal. If you’ve ever bought a clamshell of microgreens at the supermarket, you know they’re not cheap—and if you’re not careful, they’ll go bad before you’ve finished the container.
Growing your own microgreens is easy, affordable, and will yield great results. Say goodbye to the days of making last-minute trips to the grocery store for those star ingredients: It's time to start pulling them fresh, straight from your kitchen window.
Below, keep scrolling to learn how to grow your own microgreens right inside your kitchen.
- Working time: One hour
- Total time: One to two weeks
- Skill level: Beginner
- Material cost: $1 to $4 per pack of seeds; $5 to $10 per growing tray
When to Start Growing Microgreens
You can start growing microgreens in your kitchen during any season of the year. As indoor plants, their growing environment will remain relatively the same from season to season. That said, they do tend to grow faster in the summer, producing ready-to-pull leaves and stems within about one week compared to two weeks during the winter. Warmer conditions help aid their maturity rate, so a simple grow light can speed up the process if you're ready to harvest your microgreens sooner. They will also grow faster when placed in a sunny, south-facing window than they will in indirect light.
While they’re similar in some ways, microgreens are different from sprouts, which you can also grow at home. Sprouts are germinated without soil, and the entire baby plant (root, stem, and leaves) is typically eaten. Microgreens are grown in soil or a hydroponic growing medium, and only the leaves and upper portion of the stem are harvested and eaten.
Tools and Supplies You Will Need
Before you begin, gather the following materials:
- Fresh potting soil
- A shallow vessel like a grow pot, disposable pie pan, takeout container, or plastic salad container
- A tray, lipped plate, or saucer to hold your container
- Microgreen seeds of your choice
- Clean, sharp scissors
- A spray bottle or mister
- Plastic wrap (optional)
Before Getting Started
Before you start gathering materials and preparing to grow your own microgreens, it's important to choose which types (and how many) you plan to grow, and which flavors will work best with the meals you prepare regularly at home. These tiny, tender greens are typically harvested when only two inches tall, but they bring a lot to your plate: fresh flavors, crisp textures, beautiful colors, and cute shapes.
Many of our favorite vegetables and herbs make great microgreens: Opt for varieties like kale, mustard plant, arugula, or lettuce, as well as cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, or kohlrabi. To add shades of pink, red, and purple to your cooking, seek out amaranth, beets, and radish.
But it’s not just about greens—larger seeds like sunflower, buckwheat, and peas add texture to micro mixes. To add subtle flavor, grow herbs like basil, cilantro, sorrel, and peppery nasturtium, as well as alliums like onions and leeks. You can even grow corn, chrysanthemum, and celery as microgreens.
The possibilities are endless for these small stems. Microgreens make a great garnish on dishes like falafel or avocado toast, are perfect additions to salads, and sit nicely atop sandwiches, burgers, and wraps. You can also sprinkle them on top of soup or pizza just before serving, or blend them into a fragrant pesto or salsa. Simply snip the stems when you need them, give them a quick rinse and dry, and put them in just about anything.
Step 1: Prepare Your Container
If your container does not have holes in the bottom, poke several holes for drainage. This will keep your microgreens from getting waterlogged. Fill the container with one to two inches of fresh soil, then use a plant mister to moisten the soil with a spritz or two of water if needed. Gently pat the soil with your hand to just flatten the surface, but take care not to compress the soil.
Step 2: Add Microgreen Seeds
Sprinkle the seeds evenly across the surface of the soil. Gently pat the seeds into the soil with your fingers, then spread a very thin layer of soil over the seeds.
Step 3: Cover and Place the Container
If your container has a clear plastic cover, you can place that on top or even use a piece of plastic wrap. If you prefer to keep the container open, moisten the soil by misting it evenly with a few spritzes from your spray bottle. Place the container in a warm place near a window that gets at least four hours of direct sunlight per day.
Step 4: Set a Watering Schedule
Continue spritzing once or twice a day, or keep the plant container covered until your seeds begin to sprout (which will usually happen after about seven days). Once they've sprouted, remove the cover and continue spritzing daily to keep the soil moist.
Step 5: Harvest Your Microgreens
When your microgreens grow their first sets of true leaves, usually around 14 days after planting, they are ready to harvest. Gently hold a handful of microgreens by their leaves, and use your other hand to trim them just above the soil line with a pair of clean, sharp scissors or gardening shears.
Step 6: Serve and Store
Rinse and dry your microgreens with a dish towel, paper towels, or in a salad spinner, then serve and enjoy immediately. Place any unused cut microgreens in a plastic baggie with a paper towel in it. Store in your refrigerator’s crisper or produce drawer.