With unfriendly winter growing conditions, how can you continue to supply yourself with fresh green salad leaves? One solution is to grow micro leaves inside. Micro leaves are simple, fun to grow and they taste delicious. By using up old seed packets or dried seeds from health food shops you can do it at low cost.
Sow the seeds in trays in any multi-purpose compost and then harvest them when they’re a few inches tall. Most will be ready in just two or three weeks. The sunflower shoots and bean shoots (see images below) were planted 16 days ago. The sunflower shoots are ready to eat. They taste succulant and nutty, adding a spring to winter salads. Harvest them before their second set of leaves appear – these are unpleasantly bitter. The bean and pea shoots will be ready in a few days time. I’ll harvest them just above the bottom leaf, about an inch from the soil, hoping to get a second shoot from each seed a few days later.
There’s a wealth of other seeds you can grow as micro leaves: coriander, rocket, fenugreek, Japanese greens, dill – your imagination is almost the only limit.
You’ll need a lot of seeds to get a reasonable crop. To avoid splashing out on expensive new seed packets, you can happily experiment with dried pulses and herbs from health food shops – I’ve found dill, fenugreek, mustard, coriander and bean seeds all work well. It’s also a handy way to use up your old seed packets – leftover broccoli, pea or carrot seeds for example are all worth a go. Baby carrot tops are edible with an unusual but pleasant taste, and the frond like leaf looks pretty in salads.
To get more space to grow the seedlings, I’ve requisitioned my son’s old nappy changing stand, parked it by the bay window, and filled it with seed trays. Of course the nappy stand is an optional extra – any spare shelf or window ledge with reasonable light will do fine.