This is about the time of year that I start to miss fresh greens. I like to put them on top of my soup, or a big bowl of rice, or just snack on them. They’re hard to come by in January, and at times can be pretty pricey. It is also so easy to grow micro-greens in a sunny window at home. They may be small but geez are they tasty. In this post I’ll show you how.
Trays tend to work better than traditional pots as they have more surface area and greens don’t need much in the way of soil depth. This year I bought these great heavy-duty plastic trays, they are more expensive (closer to $20 than $5), but they will last me forever, no more cracked and leaky trays and I feel better buying a plastic item once rather than every year.
If you don’t want to invest or want to try to recycle what you have try out other kinds of containers. I have been known to use cake pans, old whiskey boxes, baskets lined with fabric among other things to grow my greens in. Some work better than others but try them out and write it down so you remember next year.
As usual with container gardening, you want something with good drainage, and lots of nutrients. I usually use a basic store-bought potting mixture with my own compost added in. Make sure its well moistened before you plant your seeds in there. Seed Varieties
By far my favorite window green are pea shoots. They are simply normal peas, grown for their shoots rather than their pods. They taste just like peas, grow so fast and happily keep growing after being trimmed. To plant them simply soak the pea seeds in water overnight to help them start to sprout and plant them in your trays very closely together (really jam them in there, they don’t mind). Within 3-4 weeks they should be well on their way and you can start to trim them back once they reach about 6″. Simply use your scissors to trim them down to about 1 or 2″ and voila! Winter salad.
You don’t need to stop at peas, almost any green will grow in your window. Try out arugula, spinach, kale, parsley, cilantro, broccoli, swiss chard, mizuna, tatsoi, or whatever else you can think of. Remember these will be grown as micro-greens. They will be 2 or 3″ tall when it’s time to eat them so you can grow varieties that would be so tasty at full size (like the broccoli or sunflower greens). Yum. These varieties will all take longer to grow than pea shoots.
You can plant the smaller seeds about 1/8″ apart (or simply use your own judgment). Then cover them up with a thin layer of soil.
It’s a good idea to stagger your planting. Plant one tray than wait two weeks and plant another etc. This way you should have a continuous supply to last you through the winter.
Try and use fresh seeds, or if you want to use seeds that have been around for a while, plant them at double the density so that if half of the seeds don’t germinate, the other half will.
Soak your pea seeds before planting, all the other greens can simply be scattered over your soil surface. Keep them moist (but not soaked!) and warm. Within a week or two you should see them popping up (it can be up to a month before parsley sprouts so give them time).
Put your trays in the sunniest window you have. It doesn’t have to be a super warm spot as most greens don’t mind a bit of cold, but try not to let them freeze. Give them water regularly, checking the soil with your finger first. Simply push your finger 1/2″ into the soil to check the moisture. You don’t want it to be bone dry, or sopping wet. Look for a slight dampness as an indication to water them again.
Every other week give them a weak dose of organic fertilizer. I like to use a water-soluble fertilizer like Neptune’s Harvest Fish or Seaweed Fertilizer.
Don’t forget to eat them! It helps keep you happy and healthy through the long winter months. Enjoy them on sandwiches, on top of soup (maybe with a bit of feta cheese), or as a mid-day snack. So good.
Written by: Garity Chapman