Clippings: grow micro-greens
These baby vegetables taste great and are really good for you. And, as Jackie French explains, they are incredibly easy to cultivate.
Micro-greens are green veg picked when they first start to shoot. They are sweet and tender, nutritious and very easy to grow.
MICRO-GREENS ARE MAGIC You can grow them anywhere, any time and they are incredibly fast growing. All you need is a sunny spot indoors or outside, potting mix, slow-release fertiliser and scissors.
HOW TO BEGIN Fill your pot, tray or even styrofoam box with drainage holes with a highquality potting mix. (Beware the cheaper potting mixes that are a coarse, acidic mix of just slightly rotted wood chips.) Scatter seeds on thickly, about 2mm apart, but don’t go mad trying to be accurate. Try mixing two parts sand with one part seed to keep seeds from clumping together. Depending on the seeds used, they may need a fine covering of soil. Water seeds with the finest possible spray of water to keep them in place and cover with damp paper towel or a lid for the first two days to assist germination. As soon as they are as high as your little finger, add slow-release fertiliser according to packet directions.
WHEN TO HARVEST Seeds should sprout in three to seven days. You can begin to harvest them as soon as they are big enough, with two sets of leaves of the stem, in about one to two weeks. Use scissors to snip them off, just above the soil. If you feed and water well, most will keep regrowing for months.
WHICH TO CHOOSE? Try lettuce, bok choy, basil, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, mustard, watercress, English spinach, silverbeet and endive.
Micro-reds: Try red cabbage, lettuces and red-veined chicory. Multi-coloured chard has green leaves but the multi-coloured stems are a delight – even more so when tiny.
WHY MICRO-GREENS (AND REDS) ARE GOOD FOR YOU
Micro-greens have been shown to have a higher concentration of the vitamins C and E and beta-carotene than their grown-up siblings. Red cabbage micro-greens significantly reduced the levels of “bad” cholesterol in mice fed a high-fat diet as well as producing higher levels of polyphenols and glucosinolates – compounds that lower cholesterol. They also resulted in reduced triglycerides – a fat that can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.