I don't know about you, but I hate thinning seedlings. I know proper spacing is crucial to growing healthy vegetable plants, but I can't help but feel like I'm snuffing the life's purpose out of those tiny, leafy babies. Last weekend, as I pulled gobs of lettuce seedlings out of a raised bed, my thoughts flashed back to a $5.99 package of organic microgreens I'd seen at Central Market. That's when I decided against tossing the thinned seedlings in the compost bin. Instead, I collected them in a little bowl, washed them up, and added them to our dinner salads that evening.
Lettuce seedlings are the easiest thing in the world to grow. You can grow them in flats outside in the garden, or in pots on a sunny windowsill inside the house. Use them like you would alfalfa sprouts or shredded lettuce: in salads, on sandwiches, or as garnishes on canapés.
These babies are highly perishable, so it's best to eat them the day you pluck them. Soil will cling tightly to their tiny root systems, and too strong a rinsing will bruise them, so grow them in a sterile soil-free mix, or clip the seedlings off at the surface and leave the roots underground.
Aren't they pretty with the light shining through their little leaves?
These microgreens are a combination of two Botanical Interests seed mixes (Valentine and Q's Special Medley) and a Crispy Winter Greens mix from Renee's Garden Seeds. There's a combination of Glory curly endive, Presto radicchio, Elysee escarole, baby oakleaf, baby Romaine, Lolla Rossa, Marveille de Quatre Saisons, Redina, red oakleaf, Red Salad Bowl, Rouge d’Hiver, Ruben’s Red, Black Seeded Simpson, Summer Bibb, arugula, mizuna, and Tatsoi seedlings in this little bowl. Whew!
Words and photos © 2009-2011 Caroline Homer for "The Shovel-Ready Garden". Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.