Baby Greens: How to Quickly and Easily Grow Your Own
A couple of decades ago, a select few chefs in California began topping their signature dishes with miniature, multi-colored leaves.
They were not quite sprouts, but not quite baby greens, either. The petite produce landed somewhere in the middle. And, at first, restaurant patrons surely must have mistaken them for ordinary garnish.
But when they took those initial tongue-tickling bites, they tasted the beginning of a culinary revolution.
Fast-forward to today, and the once-exclusive baby green is a familiar ingredient in high-end restaurants and home kitchens alike. And for good reason…
Why Baby Greens Became a Major Trend
What led to the meteoric rise of these tiny plants, you ask? It occurred, at least in part, because they are:
- Speedy growers – Baby greens are harvested early, and so most plants go from seed to plate in less than a month.
- A party in your mouth – Baby greens often have interesting textures and vibrant flavors, from peppery and spicy to tangy and sweet.
- Wildly nutritious – Research has shown that baby greens, despite their small size, are packed with four to six times more nutrition than their mature counterparts.
In addition to these benefits, baby greens are also easy to grow.
How to Grow Your Own Baby Greens with Tower Garden
Eager to grow baby greens yourself? Here's what you need to know.
Selecting Seeds for Baby Greens
Some seed suppliers, such as Johnny’s Selected Seeds, carry specialty baby green mixes. But really, just about any seed will do.
For example, I like to use seeds I’ve saved from my garden because I usually have an excess of them. My red giant mustard and cilantro plants offered up hundreds of seeds several growing seasons ago, and I’m still sprouting them!
As for which crops to grow — most edible plants are safe to consume as a baby greens. (An exception would be crops in the nightshade family, such as tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers).
Here are a few of the more delectable options:
How to Start and Transplant Baby Greens
Since baby greens are small, it’s best to plant several seeds — usually at least a dozen — per rockwool cube. And as soon as they sprout, you can transplant them into your Tower Garden.
This is a key difference between baby greens and plants you plan to grow to maturity. For the latter, you should typically wait until you can see roots coming through the rockwool before you transplant them.
But because you harvest baby greens when they're just a few inches tall — as we'll cover in a moment — it's best to relocate them to your Tower Garden as soon as possible. (And when you do, make sure to give them lots of direct sunlight or 14–18 hours under grow lights to prevent leggy, lethargic growth.)
By the way... to make it even easier for you to grow your own baby greens, Tower Garden just launched a Baby Greens Extension Kit.
Here are a few fast facts:
- Provides 32 additional planting ports designed specifically for baby greens and small herbs
- Attaches to the top of a standard Tower Garden
- Eliminates the need for net pots or growing clips (thanks to built-in rockwool cube supports)
I’ve seen a few questions about this neat new kit floating around the Tower Garden Facebook page. So, let’s clear the air:
- Can I use the Baby Greens Extension Kit with a Standard Extension Kit?
Yes, but you’ll need to upgrade your pump so that it’s powerful enough to propel your nutrient solution nine growing sections tall. Look for one that’s rated at least 793 GPH.
- Can I use the Baby Greens Extension Kit with Grow Lights?
Technically, there’s no reason you can’t. That being said, the LED lamps aren’t long enough to stretch the full length of an extended Tower Garden. So, plants near the very top and bottom may grow more slowly due to light deprivation. However, placing tall crops, such as kale and Swiss chard, in the bottom of your Tower Garden and placing compact or hanging plants, such as thyme and oregano, in the top may help offset this effect.
- Do I have to put the Baby Greens Extension Kit on the top of my Tower Garden?
Not necessarily. It’s possible to attach the Baby Greens Extension Kit in the middle of your Tower Garden, for example. But if you have larger plants growing below and above it, they could block out light, preventing the optimal growth of your baby greens. So, placing the extension kit at the top of your Tower Garden will likely provide the best results.
If you have any other questions about the new Baby Greens Extension Kit, drop a comment below, and I’ll do my best to help!
Smart Harvesting Tips for Baby Greens
After you transplant your baby greens, your Tower Garden will do most of the work. And in two or three weeks, your crops will be ready to pick.
Many people harvest baby greens as soon as the first true leaves (i.e., those that come after the cotyledon leaves that form inside the seed) appear. The drawback to this approach, however, is that you get only one harvest from each seed.
If you let your baby greens grow a little longer — to the point of qualifying as petite or baby greens — you can actually harvest repeatedly from the same plants for weeks by taking only the older leaves and allowing the new growing tips to remain.
In the following video, Tower Garden Developer Tim Blank demonstrates this harvesting technique:
Magnificent Ideas for Using Your Baby Greens
Baby Greens are impressively versatile in the kitchen. They make an upscale addition to soups, salads, sandwiches, and more.
So, let your inner chef out to play, and get creative with different dishes!
However, be sure to enjoy your baby greens soon after harvesting, as they’re tender and highly perishable. (If you don’t intend to use them right away, they’ll store in the refrigerator for a couple of days.)
Ready to Grow Your Own Amazing Baby Greens?
Flavor-rich and nutrient-dense, baby greens are all the rage for both pro chefs and hobby home cooks. And now they’re easier than ever to grow with Tower Garden.
Want to take your meals to new culinary heights every night of the week with your own supply of fresh baby greens and herbs?
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