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With a boot tray, soil and seeds, get growing this winter by planting microgreens

A gray plastic tray holds a crop of small, green broccoli seedlings.
Small greens from broccoli and other seeds grow quickly indoors. Grow them in small spaces — like a plastic tray — with just a bit of soil, water and sun. These tender greens can then be harvested to add to salads, soups and smoothies.

While getting your hands into the warm soil is months off, you can grow small crops of microgreens indoors! These small batches of tender veggie shoots are great additions to salads, soups and smoothies.

Growing small greens indoors is a fast and fun project during frigid winter days.

While you wait to get your hands into warm garden soil this spring, these easy-to-grow microgreens will add color and flavor to several dishes.

The best part is you don’t need grow lights or a complicated set-up — just a small tray, potting soil and seeds.

If you’ve got an extra boot tray that isn’t holding your winter gear right now, that can work! Otherwise, grab a seed-starting tray from your local garden center and fill it with a couple inches of soil, moisten it, then add some seeds.

When it comes to choosing which seeds, try broccoli to sunflower seeds and everything in between, like radish, pea, arugula, Swiss chard and spinach. Any sort of veggie or greens seed that can be sprouted can be eaten as a microgreen.

Just sprinkle seeds over the moistened tray of potting soil, then cover with clear plastic and place the tray in a bright spot (doesn’t need to be full sun) in your home.

Within a week or so, the seeds will sprout. Once they do, remove the clear plastic and watch the seeds grow tall and leggy! Your seedlings will do just fine in ambient light.

Then, as soon as they have their true leaves on them, snip them with scissors and add to salads, soups, smoothies or sautées.

Arugula and pea sprouts will actually sprout again from the same stem.

Try staggering the seed growing so you’ll have greens growing that you can harvest all through the winter.

These microgreens are fairly delicate and won’t store well, so try to use them as you harvest.

A listener wants to know when and how to care for young apple trees

Q: What are the best things to do for my young apple trees? And what time of year should I be doing things? - Laura, in Colchester

A: If you haven’t yet, it isn’t too late to put some tree wrap around the base of your young apple trees. There are paper versions, instead of plastic or wire mesh.

Adding this protective layer keeps the mice from girdling your tree. Mice find young trees irresistible and chew on them, which, in turn, kills your tree.

Other than adding that mice-chewing-protector, you can prune your young apple tree any time, up until April.

Prune it to create a nice scaffold of branches all the way around. Try to avoid branches crowding each other or shading each other. If the young tree has been in the ground a couple of years, there may be water sprouts shooting straight up from the base. Remove those as well when you’re pruning the branches.

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send us your toughest conundrums and join the fun. Submit your written question via email, or better yet, leave a voicemail with your gardening question so we can use your voice on the air! Call Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Listen to All Things Gardening Sunday mornings at 9:35 a.m., and subscribe to the podcast to listen any time.

Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.
Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.