A weekly series about our food and sustainable agriculture.
Chef Stacey Givens, founder and owner of The Side Yard in Portland, Oregon, and chef at Raptor Ridge Winery in Newberg, talks about growing micro greens and selling them to the city’s finest restaurants. Since the term “micro greens” is relatively new, below are answers to a list of frequently asked questions.
- What are micro greens? Mostly, they are regular plants harvested early when they are only a couple inches long. There are seed varieties that are micro-mixes, but they’re not necessary.
- If I want to grow micro greens, do I need special plants? No. Just seed a little heavier than normal and thin them out once they get their “true leaves” (which are different than the cotyledon leaves sprouted by new seedlings).
- What makes a good micro green? Root veggies are good. Givens recommends amaranth, carrots, ruby streak mustard greens, micro radishes (including Easter Egg and French Breakfast varieties), beets, and turnips.
- How do I know when they’re ready for harvest? For most veggies, when their first “set of leaves” are present. For micro radishes and micro carrots, maybe 5 or 6 days of their beginning lives.
- How delicate are these plants? Extremely. They should be handled with care and washed carefully especially if you keep the root hairs intact on the root, as Givens likes to do (an example of the washing process can be seen in the video).
- How do chefs use your micro greens? The micro-radishes, micro arugula, micro mustard, and micro carrots are used mostly for garnish, “to make a plate pop”.
- Are micro greens any healthier for you than full-sized plants? No. But they taste great, like a “flavor bomb since the flavors are concentrated in the smaller root size.”
- How perishable are these micro greens? Givens harvests the micro greens in the morning, washes, packages, and delivers them to the local restaurants she serves within hours of harvest.