(08/19/21) BATON ROUGE, La. — Tiny edible vegetables known as microgreens have been rising in popularity with Americans searching for ways to add nutrition to home-cooked dishes.
As many found themselves seeking do-it-yourself projects during the 2020 COVID-19 outbreak, microgreens became a favorite miniature gardening project.
LSU AgCenter horticulture expert Kathryn “Kiki” Fontenot became interested in developing microgreen growing operations over the past year, and she developed a how-to guide to teach others.
“During the pandemic my workload changed drastically,” Fontenot said. “Instead of meeting face to face with the public, we were answering tons of calls and emails from people just starting to garden.”
A common question was, “Can I just grow a small garden on the counter?”
"So, we set out to try,” Fontenot said.
Microgreens are young, immature vegetable and herb seedlings harvested just seven to 14 days after the seeds emerge from the soil surface. They can be added to salads, wraps, sandwiches and smoothies — just like full-size greens — but don’t require garden space.
Heather Kirk-Ballard, AgCenter consumer horticulture specialist, also noticed the popularity of microgreens and created a video guide to growing them as part of the Get It Growing program. It is available at http://bit.ly/GIGmicrogreens. Growing microgreens is quick and easy, Kirk-Ballard said.
“You don’t even have to have a garden or a great deal of space,” she said. “Just a small space in a sunny window, decent potting soil, good drainage and voilà!”
Any vegetable crop can be grown as microgreens, but the most popular include broccoli, cabbage, peas, and herbs, such as basil, dill and cilantro.
While microgreens do not grow long, they do contain fiber, essential minerals, vitamins and antioxidant compounds. They also add color, texture and flavor to many dishes, Fontenot said.
“They are intense in flavor,” Kirk-Ballard said. “They taste best on a sandwich or in a salad and some people blend them into smoothies.”
Fontenot developed the microgreens guide along with her graduate students, who tested different vegetable seeds to see how they would fare as microgreens. The research became an enjoyable project, Fontenot said.
“Microgreens aren’t difficult, but like any other garden they need a bit of attention” Fontenot said. “Mold can easily grow, so getting your watering routine just right takes a bit of fine tuning. The reward is worth the effort!”
The microgreens growing guide is available on the LSU AgCenter website at https://bit.ly/MicrogreensLSU.
Assorted microgreens grow in trays. Photo by Kaylee Deynzer/ LSU AgCenter
Corn microgreens are harvested with clean, sharp scissors. Photo by Kaylee Deynzer/ LSU AgCenter