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A quick crop of vegetables
Desperate for something green after a long, gloomy winter? Hungry for something fresh and home-grown? You don't have to wait for the outdoor gardening season; now is the perfect time to grow a crop of micro mix for sale or your own table. Micro mix, also called microgreens, is a mixture of tender gourmet vegetable seedlings cut at the first true leaf stage and blended together into a colorful confetti.

Commercial growers produce micro mix in heated greenhouses, using a combination of varieties that they select to create a signature product. Johnny's has dozens of varieties that can be grown for micro mix; the key is to choose varieties that germinate at the same time, and to keep seed costs in line with the prices you can charge for the finished product. You'll find a chart listing both fast-growing and slow-growing varieties in the catalog or on the website. Additionally, you can download instructions for commercial micro mix production there.

For personal use, growing micro mix is a fun and nutritious way to use up leftover seed or experiment with new flavors. The tiny plants are a vitamin-rich, flavorful addition to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes. You can grow a tray of mixed seedlings in a greenhouse, under grow lights, or even in a sunny window. Micro mix can consist of many kinds of vegetables, including beets, broccoli, cabbage, Chinese cabbage, carrots, mustards, radishes, scallions and any of the tender annual herbs such as basil, dill, and fennel.
To grow micro mix at home, start with a seedling flat, a salad clamshell box, or other shallow container with drainage holes, with a solid tray below it to catch water. Fill with an inch or two of pre-moistened potting mix. Spread seeds across the entire surface of the flat, as thickly and evenly as possible. You may mix varieties together or plant them in separate sections in the tray. Press the seeds gently into the soil, then sift a thin layer of soil on top to lightly cover the seeds. Mist with a spray bottle, cover with an acrylic dome, and put the tray on a heat mat or in a warm place. As soon as the seeds start to germinate, remove the cover and provide strong light to the seedlings.  Keep the soil moist by spraying or bottom-watering. Within one to two weeks, your seedlings should have their first set of true leaves, which means they are ready to harvest. Cut them with sharp scissors and enjoy.

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Reprinted from JSS Advantage February 2010