Saturday, November 30, 2013

Microgreens and Holiday Citrus

I hope everyone had an enjoyable and safe Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. Our menu included sweet potatoes and cucumber pickles from last year's garden along with fresh herbs and greens from the greenhouse.

Even if you only have a sunny window available for winter gardening, you can continue growing food. I discussed sprouts in the last blog post. Microgreens are sprouts taken a little further along. They are grown in a potting medium, but you harvest when they are only a couple of inches tall. Some of the most popular microgreens are cilantro, beets and sunflowers. All of the brassicas make good microgreens, as well.

Cilantro microgreens are popular with gourmet chefs because they develop flavor at a young age and have lacy foliage. Beets make the cut owing to their bright red coloration. Sunflowers are allowed to grow to about three or four inches tall, at which time they can be made into a satisfying salad, all by themselves.

To grow microgreens, fill a shallow container with sterile potting soil, water well and sow seeds thickly, but otherwise as you would sow them in the garden. Make sure the container drains well, or the seeds will simply rot. I like to reuse plastic containers from the produce department of the grocery store. The pint cartons that mushrooms come in work well. Just poke a few holes in the bottom with a sharp instrument.

Water your indoor garden regularly and keep in a sunny window or under lights. Seeds should germinate in the time indicated on the package. Depending on the variety, this can be a few days to a week or more. When the seedlings are the size you want, harvest by clipping them off a ground level with a pair of scissors. Microgreens are a great addition to any salad, and help perk up the flavor of winter produce like greenhouse tomatoes.

We will soon be harvesting Meyer lemons. If you are only going to try one citrus tree in a container, this is the one to go for. I have made plenty of mistakes, but we still have 11 lemons in various stages of maturity.

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