Grow to eat: microgreens, the tasty garnish that grows on the windowsill

Jack Wallington
Microgreens can be grown on a sunny window year-round - Tribune News Service

Microgreens as a concept used to sound like total nonsense to me. What’s wrong with a normal green?

The only microgreen I’d grown was cress – and that was in an eggshell with a smiley face in primary school. Then a microgreen farm set up shop directly beneath our flat in Clapham and I started thinking there may be something in it. 

Chefs use microgreens (i.e. tiny shoots) for colourful, meal-improving garnishes, salads and to add nutritional value. I’ve found the flavours of each tiny plant surprisingly powerful, and they add complex layers of flavour to food.

The clincher is the ease with which microgreens can be grown all year, even now in gloomy winter.  Plants typically used include rocket and nasturtium for peppery zing, mustard in a range of colours, purple basil, broccoli, peas, radish, amaranth and kale. There are many more (visit johnsons-seeds.com for a starter kit).

For DIY-ers, all you need is a waterproof tray (a large plate will do) spread with two to three layers of kitchen towel kept damp on a sunny windowsill. Using compost instead of kitchen towel or supplementing with a weak liquid fertiliser can help boost growth, but isn’t essential (I didn’t bother).

Amaze your friends with “YUM” in neon pink amaranth Credit: Jack Wallington

Sprinkle seeds on top and in about two weeks you’ll have leaves ready to cut. Be vigilant about watering, I let seeds dry out and our central heating finished them off in hours. 

I’ve been using a ceramic nibbles plate (£3 from Asda) to grow a design that spells the word “YUM” in neon pink amaranth. Alternating two plates provides a constant supply.  Microgreens are easy to grow, look fantastic and taste good – what’s not to love?

Find Jack’s Garden Blog of the Year at jackwallington.com. Follow him on Twitter @jackwallington and Instagram @jackjjw