If you’re partial to a slight onion flavor and delicate greens on your baked potato, chive microgreens are here for you. These simple monocots provide super-skinny micro chives that make any dish look – and taste – like a gourmet meal. Plus, it’s very simple to grow chive microgreens at home!
Chive microgreens are really just very young chive plants. They’re harvested right after the solitary cotyledon unfurls, which is much faster than waiting for the whole plant to mature. Once grown, a tray of chives microgreens looks like a mat of bright green grass dotted with dark purple seed hulls. Each cotyledon is only 2-4 inches long, but they provide a fresh taste and a surprising amount of nutrients.
Growing microgreens, chives or otherwise, is way simpler than it seems. It’s really all about having the correct supplies and applying just the right technique. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll clue you in on how to grow chives microgreens herbs in just a few weeks!
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Growing Chive Microgreens
The materials needed to grow chives microgreens are as basic as it gets. You can reuse almost everything for other microgreen crops.
- Seeds: high-quality chive seeds (we are partial to the Chive Microgreens Seeds from True Leaf Market)
- Growing medium: seed-starting mix or coconut coir
- Light: use a T5 grow light
- Shallow growing trays: one with drain holes, one without
- Kitchen scissors
- Misting bottle
- Seed shaker (optional)
For most sprouting trays, you’ll need a couple of tablespoons worth of chives microgreens seeds. While searching for chives microgreen seeds, you’re sure to come across garlic chives as well. This is actually a completely different species than traditional chives but grows very similarly. The big difference is in the taste. Traditional chives are oniony while garlic chives taste, well, garlicky.
Whichever chives microgreen seeds you chose, you’ll need a fine-grained, well-draining growing medium. Our go-to is a seed-starting mix or coconut coir. Chives microgreens aren’t great at growing hydroponically. If you want to experiment with water-based microgreens, try carrot microgreens or kale microgreens.
We know it can be tempting to use direct sunlight instead of grow lights, but these are actually very important components of growing microgreens. Growers prefer them because microgreens plants are at their best when they have grow lights just a foot above them. The grow lights allow for uniform growth and complete control over when and how much light they get in the garden.
Chives microgreens seeds are tiny and soft; they don’t need to soak before planting.
The term “planting” is misleading here because the microgreen seeds won’t be buried intermittently in the soil. Instead, we’re going to spread the seeds generously across the whole soil surface. Begin by filling your tray with drain holes with your growing medium of choice. Tamp down the soil and evenly moisten it with your spray bottle. Then, sprinkle the seeds all around (you may want to use a seed shaker for even distribution). To ensure good air circulation and germination, be sure they’re not overlapping.
Grab your second growing tray and place it directly on top of the newly “planted” seeds. Add a small weight on top to keep the cover in place. This marks the beginning of the blackout period when your chives seeds will germinate in a comfortably dark place.
Chives microgreens seeds germinate more slowly than most other microgreens. They’ll need 1-2 weeks to emerge and a further week until harvest time. Even so, your chives microgreens crop will be grown and cut in under a month.
Leave the cover tray in place for those 1-2 weeks needed for even germination. You should only remove it for watering and checking the progress. The seeds will complete germination in this dark place and then begin to struggle against the weighted cover tray. You’ll know even germination is achieved when the baby microgreens collectively push up the weight (together, they can lift up to 5 pounds!). At that time, you can finally remove the tray and introduce your germinated chives microgreens to the light.
Position your grow lights 1-2 feet directly above your microgreens tray. If the light is off to the side, the microgreens will lean to one side and grow unevenly. Turn on the grow lights for about 12 hours each day.
Since they take so long to grow, you’ll likely be watering once or twice before harvest time. The common way to do this with microgreens is bottom watering. Simply add water to your cover tray and place the grow tray inside it. Let the chives microgreens take their fill through the drainage holes for 10 minutes and then remove the watering tray (we don’t want the soil to get soaked). Repeat the bottom watering method whenever the soil starts to lose moisture.
While growing microgreens, you may notice very fine, white fibers around the plant. These may look like mold, but they’re actually microgreen roots. Growers aren’t used to seeing them since our seeds are usually planted in the soil! Don’t worry about them though, the roots will quickly find their way downwards.
To collect them as true microgreens, harvest your micro chives before the first real leaves grow in. Once they do, the texture, flavor, and vitamins profile will change (not to mention the growing requirements!). The ideal time to harvest is when the chives microgreens plants are 1-2 inches long.
Chives microgreens often hold onto their seed hulls, giving the mat a polka-dotted look. These hulls are edible, so feel free to leave them on! If you’d rather not though, lightly brush your palm across the micro chives to remove them.
To harvest, use your kitchen scissors or a sharp knife to clip the chives microgreens in bunches. You can harvest them as needed, but keep in mind that you only have a small window until the microgreens grow into a full plant.
The best part of growing chives microgreens? You can eat them with almost anything! Use your chives microgreens as a tasty, raw garnish herb on salads, potatoes, sushi, and any other dishes you can think of.
The key to keeping chives microgreens fresh is keeping them as dry as possible. Harvest them with a single cut to the stem and gently blot them dry. Since they’re so thin and bendy, be careful not to break or bend the stems. Any wound in the micro chives leaf will quickly accumulate moisture. Wrap your chives microgreens in a paper towel and seal them in a container in the fridge. With this method, your chives microgreens harvest should last for at least 5-7 days.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do chives microgreens grow?
A: Chives microgreens grow slowly, but fairly easy. With the right care, you can add this plant to your indoor garden without difficulty.
Q: Can you eat chive sprouts?
A: Yes, the cotyledons, seeds, and roots are all edible. When growing chives microgreens though, growers don’t harvest and eat anything below the soil.
Q: Are chive seeds poisonous?
A: No, but they are toxic to dogs and cats. Be sure to keep your chives microgreens garden out of your pets’ reach.
Q: Will chives grow back after cutting?
A: Sadly, you can’t grow chives microgreens again after harvesting. You’ll have to replant in order to grow more.