Our drop in session this weekend focused on growing micro leaves and sprouting seeds. As you can see from the photo below, we got a bit distracted and over excited with the festivities. However, in between making glittery hanging pine cones and leaf wreaths we did manage to do a bit of edible gardening. We think that’s pretty good for deepest darkest December.

Sprouting seeds and micro salads are vegetables harvested at a very young and tender age and can be grown all year round. Ours are growing inside on a warm window sill as the seeds need a temperature of 18–22°C to germinate. Results have been mixed due to the low light levels but we have germinated oriental mustards and broccoli in just a few weeks. The tasty, tender leaves provide a great source of fresh vitamins at this time of year.

What to do

  1. Fill pots or windowsill troughs with multipurpose compost.
  2. Sow the seeds thinly and cover with a fine layer of compost. Alternatively, you can use a small seed tray or recycled food tub lined with wet felt or  kitchen roll. Sprinkle the seeds on top.
  3. Place the container on a warm windowsill or in a glasshouse to germinate. The ideal temperature for germination is 18–22°C.
  4. Keep the compost, felt or kitchen roll moist.
  5. The micro-leaves are ready to harvest when the first true leaves start to emerge. This usually takes a few weeks.
  6. Cut the young shoots with scissors and add them to salads and sandwiches.

Five to try

Each variety has its own characteristic flavour.

  • Oriental mustards have fancy deeply divided peppery tasting leaves.
  • Purple basil looks great and has a delicious flavour and aroma.
  • Beetroot ‘Bull’s Blood’ has reddish-tinged young baby leaves and an earthy taste.
  • Sprouting broccoli has highly nutritious green shoots.
  • Coriander has strong citrus flavoured micro-leaves.

You can buy micro-leaf seeds from most garden centres and seed catalogues.