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For urban residents, growing vegetables and herbs is not an easy task, considering the limited outdoor space. However, micro gardening makes it possible for city dwellers to grow and eat organic fresh greens.
Difference between micro garden, miniature garden and sprouts
Micro gardens are different from miniature gardens. Miniature gardens are tiny landscaped gardens in containers, such as trays, baskets, cups or a terrarium. Tiny bonsai plants, dwarf plants, small fairies, houses, rocks and other features can also be added in miniature gardens. Sprouts are different from micro greens, as sprouts are not planted in soil while micro greens are grown in soil, at times through a hydroponic system.
What are micro green gardens and their benefits?
Micro gardens or micro green gardens are made up of a variety of edible seedlings of veggies and herbs. “Micro greens are young vegetable greens, aptly called baby leaf vegetables. They are known for their amazing aromatic flavour and high level of nutrients. Micro greens can be grown on the terrace or balcony and even indoors on the windowsill. Micro greens are especially easy to nurture for people staying in apartments,” says Vinayak Garg, founder, Lazy Gardener.
Micro gardens can also be cultivated year-round, both, indoors and outdoors, in trays, pots and even in the food delivery boxes. The wonderful thing about growing micro greens is that you can harvest in 10 to 14 days.
“Micro greens, known as super foods, are a great source of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and they often contain a higher percentages of these, compared to mature greens,” states Garg. Micro greens can be added to one’s diet as salads, stuffed in parathas, or as garnish for soups, raitas, pizzas, or blended into juice.
How to set up a micro garden
Micro gardening is a growing trend as urban farming gains momentum among millennials. Micro greens have a short harvesting period of a few weeks. So, cultivating these at home is not a time-consuming task. Moreover, it does not require much gardening equipment or experience. Hence, city residents can take it up as a relaxing hobby, while enjoying nurturing some greenery.
What can one grow in a micro garden?
Setting up a micro garden is the first step towards a kitchen garden. A beginner can start with mustard, green grams or fennel and then move on to sunflower and flax seeds. “One can easily grow fenugreek, radish, kale, arugula, amaranth, beetroot, wheatgrass, basil, buckwheat, sunflower and pea shoots. Start with just a couple of varieties and add more, as you go along,” adds Garg.
Mustard: Easy to grow, these micro greens have a nice spicy taste and pretty leaves. Mustard micro greens are known for protein, fiber and iron.
Coriander: This micro green takes a little longer than most others to germinate but their intensity and flavour is worth the wait. Micro coriander contains beta-carotene, zinc and phosphorus.
Beetroot: Beetroot micro greens are reddish-purple coloured edibles, loaded with zinc, iron, calcium and potassium.
Wheatgrass: Wheat grass is also a popular micro green that people have been growing for health benefits, as it contains antioxidants and boosts immunity. Also, they germinate quickly.
Requirement to set up a micro green garden
- Good quality seeds
- Proper lighting
See also: Kitchen gardening for beginners
Tips to maintain your micro garden
- Do not use garden soil. Instead, use a potting mix or cocopeat.
- Soak the seeds overnight before sowing it.
- The depth at which the seeds should be sown, should depend on its size. A big seed must be sown two inches deeper and if the seed is small, just sprinkle it on the soil and add a thin layer of soil over it.
- The seeds should be evenly equally spaced. If the seeds are too close to each other the air circulation reduces, leading to rotting and fungal growth.
- Ensure that the seed are moist but do not overwater it. Use a spray bottle to water the seedlings.
- Once the plants have sprouted, spray water directly onto the soil at the bottom of the plant, to avoid fungal diseases, which are very common while growing micro greens.
- To avoid mold, keep it in an airy space. If it is indoors, try to increase air circulation by using a fan or keep the window open.
- Keep the seed kit in a dark place or shaded part of the balcony.
- After germination, keep it under indirect sunlight.
- If the tray is placed in the balcony or terrace, ensure that birds do not destroy them.
- Micro greens are harvested just after the cotyledon leaves have developed. After 10 or 12 days, once the seedlings are about two inches tall, cut them using a pair of scissors.
What type plants are suitable for micro gardening?
Plants such as radish, fenugreek, beetroot, kale, wheatgrass, arugula, amaranth, basil, sunflower, buckwheat and pea shoots are ideal for micro gardening.
Do microgreens regrow after cutting?
Several varieties of microgreens can regrow after harvesting and can be cut several times.
What are the benefits of microgreens?
Microgreens are packed with nutrients, such as potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium, vitamins and antioxidants.