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Microgreens in the Winter

Why Microgreens?

I am thinking about them right now in the colder months because they grow so easily inside. Microgreens are defined as the edible, immature greens that are harvested about two weeks after germination. Little pea shoots, the tiny leaves and stems from broccoli, kale, amaranth, red cabbage, and sunflowers; these are a few of the more common types of microgreens.

The Uses for Microgreens

They can be used in a myriad of ways including as a confetti topping on an open-faced sandwich or pizza, tossed as a salad, or as a refreshing accompaniment to any braise. I love including them in cold quinoa or rice salads because the raw crunch adds not only depth but also beauty to the dish. Try them in a wrap or a soup. Mix them into your breakfast smoothie. They are a tasty reminder of summer.

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Research done by the USDA has shown that microgreens are many times more concentrated in a wide variety of nutrients than their adult counterparts. Research is still being done on these jewels that pack so much nutritional punch, but in the meantime, eat and enjoy knowing you are eating something good for your health.

Growing your Own Greens

I buy my microgreens at out local co-op store. I love that they are locally grown. However, if you would like to grow your own, it is very easy. Any disposable tray or pie plate will work. Poke a few holes in the bottom for drainage, fill it with moistened potting soil, and sprinkle your chosen seeds per instructions on their packets. Usually you just barely cover the seeds with more soil. Water the soil by misting it with water a couple times a day. You want to keep the soil moist but not wet. Place the tray in your sunniest window or under grow lights. The plants should get about four hours of sunshine each day.

Next time you are building a turkey, vegetable sandwich, include baby pea sprouts instead of that leaf of romaine. You will love it!

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Garden Planning on a Cold Winter’s Day

Thinking of Spring

We are in the midst of a blizzard. Mother nature is dumping heavy, wet snow, yet inside my cozy house the growing stack of seed catalogs is whetting my appetite for summer. Johnny’s Selected Seeds has introduced “the first-ever red-colored Chinese cabbage with full-sized heads.” Park Seed has just introduced a bi-colored Echinacea where “yellow petal tips give way to magenta-red on these large, very abundant blooms.” I once again have zone 5 envy as I read about Spark Bros’ new variety of Honeycrisp/Gala apple cross.

My garden is buried, and the branches of my mulberry tree stark. However, I am starting to think, plan, and drool at the promise of a new variety of tomato. The juicy, sweet German Pink variety ensures greater disease resistance and heavier yields.

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Creating a Garden Plan

These cold, winter months give me time to reflect. What worked last summer? What do I want to do differently? Should I plant more pollinator-friendly plantings? How about more climbing vegetables? I love using my fence for vining peas, beans, cucumbers, and melons. Unfortunately it seems the most interesting seed varieties tend to sell out quickly. For that reason, if there is something I particularly want to try, I need to order soon. These deep, cold temps are essential for many of our native trees and plants, so I do not wish for a warm winter.

The variety of seasons offers a change of pace in our schedules. For me, on this wintry day, I am curled up with a mug of Chai tea with the strains of violin music in the background. A pine-scented candle burns as I nestle up with my garden planning book and seed catalogs.

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