If you’re tired of the basic microgreen crops, like radishes and sunflowers, we have a lesser-known herb that you can learn how to grow. Known for its tangy flavor, sorrel makes an exciting microgreen! Not only that, but sorrel microgreens are pretty basic to grow. With this crop, you can liven up your kitchen with minimal effort.
Sorrel plant is a lesser-known garden herb that’s commonly used in France. It has spinach-like leaves that look like they belong in a salad greens mix. However, sorrel plants are generally used in soups and sauces. It has a sour flavor, thanks to the oxalic acid present in the green leaves. The most common type is Rumex sanguineus, commonly called bloody sorrel or red-veined sorrel. Though there are many excellent varieties out there, in this guide we’ll mostly learn how to grow red-veined sorrel.
Most microgreens don’t look a thing like their mature selves, but sorrel is the spitting image of its full-grown leaves (deep red veins included!). These mini-me cotyledons are ovate-shaped, bright green leaves. Unlike mature red-vein sorrel though, micro sorrel has a citrusy, tangy flavor. This makes it a great alternative for someone who doesn’t care for sour foods. Micro red-vein sorrel can still go in soups, but it also makes a fantastic, crunchy garnish for many dishes (especially fish!).
Even in the best growing conditions with the best growing method, micro red-veined sorrel needs 17-30 days to grow. It has a long growing time for microgreens, but it’s still much faster than that of mature plants. As a member of the buckwheat family, young red-vein sorrel also contains lots of health benefits and nutrients, including Vitamins A, B, and C, potassium, and fiber. So, as you can see, sorrel microgreens have plenty of great features that make them a fun addition to your year-round microgreen gardens!
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Sorrel Microgreens Quick Info
|Ideal Harvest:||17-30 days|
Growing Sorrel Microgreens
You can learn how to grow red-veined sorrel microgreens just as easily as most other microgreen crops. In fact, if you’re an experienced microgreen grower, you’ll have no problem getting red-vein sorrel plants started by the same growing method as most micro plants.
In this section, we want to break down the materials required. Start out with a bullet-point list covering the basics below:
- Seeds: purchase red-veined sorrel seeds or any sorrel plants variety you prefer
- Growing medium: we prefer Espoma’s seed starting potting mix or coconut coir
- Light: a T5 grow light will yield the best results for red-vein sorrel plants
- Growing trays: opt for 2 shallow growing trays instead of a pot; one tray with drainage holes, and one without
- Small weight: up to 5 pounds
- Misting bottle
- Kitchen shears
There are lots of different varieties of sorrel plants with properties noticeable in their microgreens. As mentioned before, red-veined sorrel will have distinctive red veins in the microgreens. Red panda sorrel plants are similar but have a more delicate shade of red. This type of red sorrel is one of the fast-growing varieties and is typically ready to harvest 1-2 weeks earlier than slow-growing varieties like the red-veined sorrel plant. Another common variety is large leaf sorrel plants, which have an extra lemony flavor and, of course, large leaves.
You don’t have to buy red-veined sorrel seeds marketed for growing microgreens since microgreens are a stage of growth, not a plant variety. You do want to choose seeds from a reliable brand. In order to get a dense mat of microgreens, we need a high germination rate.
Our favorite source for microgreens seed is True Leaf Market, and here is a list of the ones we’d recommend:
- Red-Veined Sorrel Microgreens Seeds
- Red Panda Sorrel Microgreens Seeds
- Large Leaf Sorrel Microgreens Seeds
Red-veined sorrel seeds don’t need to be soaked before they’re planted.
We’ll be direct seeding our red-vein sorrel into a shallow grow container instead of garden beds or a pot. First, fill up the drainage grow tray with your choice of seed-starting soil mix or coconut coir (microgreens don’t need extra nutrients, so skip the fertilizer and compost). Smooth out the soil surface and sow a thin layer of seeds. The seeds should cover the entire soil surface, right up to the edges of the grow tray. However, don’t let the individual seeds touch or overlap.
Gently tamp down the seeds and give them a good misting with your spray bottle. Instead of covering them with a thin layer of soil, we’ll be leaving the seeds and soil surface bare. To help with germination though, place your second grow tray directly on top of the seeds. Place a small weight on top of the tray to keep it in place (the seedlings can handle a maximum of 5 pounds).
With that second grow tray in place, your seeds will be wet, warm, and in the dark – perfect germinating conditions! Leave the seeds and soil in this blackout period for at least a week. Red-veined sorrel seeds take 3-7 days to germinate and sprout, then need to grow a bit before they’re ready to face the outside world. You’ll know that the red-veined sorrel seedlings are mature enough when they start to push up the cover tray, despite its weight.
Once they’ve proved their strength, remove the weighted cover so your red vein sorrel seedlings can take a breath of fresh air. At this point, they may look a little pale and squished. Bringing out your growlight will quickly take care of that. Position the lighting source 1-2 feet directly above the red-veined sorrel plants and turn it on for at least 6-8 hours a day. The red-veined sorrel plants will straighten out towards the lightsource and start producing chlorophyll, which gives them bright green leaves.
Since they take so much longer to grow, you’ll likely need to water your red-veined sorrel plants at least once. However, since the plants are growing so close together, getting the surface wet will drastically increase humidity and encourage pests and diseases. So, we’re going to water from the bottom of the tray instead.
For bottom-watering, you can reuse the holeless container that was your blackout cover. This time though, fill the tray with a couple of inches of water and set the grow tray inside it. The soil will soak up the water through the drainage holes. After 10-15 minutes, remove the watering tray. You’ll need to repeat this process whenever the soil starts to dry out.
It’ll take at least another week or two after germinating to grow red-veined sorrel microgreens. By that point, their leafy cotyledons will be completely unfolded and you may even see some true leaves growing in. You can experiment with how long you wait until you harvest these semi-mature plants. The tangy flavor will grow more sour and bitter as the leaves mature. Generally, gardeners harvest sorrel greens before they pass 2 inches in height.
Use sharp kitchen shears to harvest the plants in bunches. Once harvested, try to handle the delicate leaves as little as possible and hold off on washing them for now. Unfortunately, this garden plant won’t regrow another crop to harvest. However, you can plant more seed right away since microgreens grow year round, no matter if it’s winter or summer!
Mature red-veined sorrel leaves are usually cooked, but post-harvest micro sorrel greens are at their best raw. Their delicious crunchiness makes a perfect garnish for warm or cold dishes, like fish, potatoes, or salads. Just be sure to only wash the fresh leaves right before using them.
We keep microgreen harvests as dry as possible so that they’ll store better. If wrapped in paper towels and stored in a container in the fridge, you can squeeze a whole week of freshness out of one harvest.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do you grow sorrel microgreens?
A: You can grow red-veined sorrel just like most other microgreens! This includes densely sowing seeds, covering them for a week, and then using a grow light and bottom-watering. That’s the gist of it, but we share lots of details above for optimal results.
Q: What does micro sorrel taste like?
A: Unlike mature, bitter, sour sorrel plant, these microgreens are sweeter with a lemon twist.
Q: Does sorrel need light to germinate?
A: Nope! In fact, after sowing, seeds need a blackout period in order to germinate properly. However, once sprouted, sorrel plant needs full sun until harvest.
Q: What are the most sought-after microgreens?
A: Radish and sunflower microgreens are the most common and popular to grow. Red-veined sorrel, arugula, and amaranth – among other delicate herbs and plants – will fetch a higher price if you’re selling them.