25 Jan 2019

Growing microgreens and herbs on your window sill

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 3:20 pm on 25 January 2019

We don't all have big gardens to grow produce, so Lynda Hallinan has advice on the kinds of things you can successfully grow on your window sill

Young red cabbage microgreens grown in soil

Photo: 123RF

Microgreens she says are "fool proof."

"Microgreens are incredibly practical and incredibly easy to grow all you need is a container of some sort, a recycled ice cream container you could use baked bean cans or spaghetti cans or yoghurt containers.

"Anything small enough to contain 5 to 10 cm of soil max, any old potting mix will do, you fill those up and get the microgreen seed and sprinkle it on really thickly, you’re not trying to grow plants here you’re just trying to grow spouts."

Keep it the soil moist, Hallinan says, and you'll have a crop in seven to 14 days.

She suggests baby rocket, coriander, basil, chervil, beetroot, kale mustard and radish make for good microgreens.

"And for something unusual you could try borage. If you grow it as a microgreen the little baby borage plants taste like cucumber and it’s amazing."

Microgreens can be added to anything and they pack a flavour punch, she says.

"It’s amazing how much flavour they add. That’s the beauty of microgreens you get the flavour of an entire coriander plant in a tiny sprout - with radishes you get all the intensity of a radish in a tiny sprout so it can be really peppery."

Most of the well-known seed companies have microgreen seeds in their range and Hallinan says she likes Yates rocket emeralds and gets through a packet a week.

"I just chuck the whole packet in and they’re really lovely and bright and full of flavour, and so if you’ve got a party you can sow them one week out and they’ll be perfect when you want to snip them and you can scatter them over things.

"So if you make a bacon and egg pie put on some microgreens and it instantly looks fancy."

Fresh green basil in pots on window sill

Photo: 123RF

Window sill herbs

Mint, basil and chives are good to grow on the window sill, she says.

"The key thing is not to have them in full sun – even with your microgreens - if you put your microgreens on your kitchen window and it gets all day sun, you’ll go to work in the morning and they’ll be looking lovely and perky and lush when you come home they will have fried."

Keep them in bright light, not direct sunlight, she says.

"If you grow them indoors they tend to get fungal diseases, or they’ll get a little bit of mildew because herbs don’t really like humidity and houses get very warm and moist at this time of the year.

"Keep them somewhere where they get a bit of airflow and you will need to water them even things that are Mediterranean like rosemary and basil they still need watering in a normal garden they will shrivel up and die if you don’t water them.

"I’d be watering once a day at this time of year."

For constant cutting salad she recommends mini tubs of mesclun - an Italian mix of seeds you snip from about 14 to 21 days and just keep cutting it, she says.

"But the best lettuce I’ve grown in recent years is a new Dutch hybrid called salanova, you can buy the plants you’ll pay a little more than average for a punnet of six plants but they’ve been bred to have about three times as many leaves."

More from Lynda Halinan

  • Garden Q&A: Lynda Hallinan answers more of your gardening questions
  • Lynda Hallinan answers your gardening questions
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