Microgreens are best eaten raw because they are small and delicate and cooking collapses them, although they can be gently stirred into dishes at the last minute. The zesty ones like radish and mustard are perfect for spiking the flavour of a salad of neutral greens. Choose easy, fast-growing vegetables to keep children’s interest. Many edible leaf crops can be grown as microgreens, even vegetables that we normally eat only as root vegetables, such as carrots and radishes.
Radish microgreens (my favourite) are one of the fastest growers; they have long, firm stems and some varieties are rich purple in colour. Their taste may be a bit spicy for some novice palettes. Peas taste like freshly podded peas. Fiji feathers is a good pea choice because it has long wiry tendrils that look fascinating and the whole lot can be eaten. They’re sweet too and grow exuberantly.
It is not necessary to buy ‘kits’ to grow microgreens, but you may choose to do so if you do not have some of the things mentioned on hand. Recycled items are useful.
Spreading seeds generously over moist container mix, covering them over and patting them into place can become a hobby activity rather than a chore for children. Use seed raising mix in small quirky containers, (containers can be shallow) spread seeds on top and water gently. Cover with paper kitchen towels until the seeds have germinated – kids can lift the edges to sneak a peek at progress. The immature leaves are harvested anywhere from a week to two weeks after germination, depending on the type of greens you plant and the season.
Choose pots that will appeal to children – the quirkier the better. They need drainage so you may need to punch holes in the bases. See-through plastic containers are good because the roots can be seen through the sides.
Some container possibilities are
· Food cans, recycled and painted. Shallow sardine cans are good as very little soil is needed.
· Cardboard egg trays
· Asian steam baskets
· Plastic pottles with holes punched in the base that will fit inside more attractive holders like salad bowls .
· Egg shells
· Plastic scoops from laundry powder
· Some nurseries have used seed raising trays that would otherwise be thrown out. These may be too large though for children’s use; several smaller pots are better for kids.
· Old baking pans with holes punched in the bottom are good too.
Small sized tools like eating utensils and accessories are user- friendly for children. Wooden picnic cutlery is safe. Kids love to have their own gear and are hopefully more likely to eat the veggies they produce with their own little set?
Children can experiment with how they would like to prepare the produce. Wraps, Tacos, tortillas, sandwiches or rice paper rolls are great for including cut microgreens.
The photo shows Sierra who had prolific and rapid success growing mustard microgreens on a damp sponge. The sponge was wet and she sprinkled seeds generously over the surface and sprayed gently with water every day.