Quick and Easy Guide to Grow Shiso Microgreens
If you're looking for a quick and easy way to spice up your meals while growing your produce right in the comfort of your home, look no further than Shiso microgreens! Not only are they an incredibly nutritious superfood packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients—which boast tremendous health benefits—but they also add a unique pop of flavor to salads and stir-fries alike. Plus, as far as green gardening projects go, they require very little work or maintenance compared to other vegetables or herbs.
In this blog post, we'll provide you with all the basics of how to grow your own Shiso microgreens at home, from preparing soil and planting seeds to harvesting tips and storage instructions. So what are you waiting for? Let's get started!
What are Shiso Microgreens?
Shiso Microgreens, also known as Perilla or Japanese Basil, are a popular herb in the mint family, originating from Southeast Asia. They serve as a staple in Japanese cooking and are loved for their distinctive taste—hints of mint, basil, and anise.
There are two primary varieties of Shiso: the green and the red (or bicolor). The green variety has bright green, frilly leaves with a slightly spicy flavor, while the red variety presents a beautiful, deep burgundy color with a slightly stronger anise flavor. Shiso microgreens are not just limited to Asian dishes. They can add color and flavor to salads, cold noodle dishes, and fruit salads.
From seedlings to mature plants, Shiso is appreciated for its culinary use and ornamental value, making it a fascinating addition to your microgreens business or home garden.
- The Shiso Plant
Shiso, also known as Perilla or the Beefsteak plant, is a member of the mint family and is a staple in various Asian cuisines, particularly in Japan. It is valued for its distinctive taste—hints of mint and anise—and its attractive, frilly leaves that add color to dishes.
- Microgreens vs Seedlings
- Microgreens: These are harvested just after the plant has sprouted and grown its first set of true leaves. Microgreens are typically 1-3 inches tall, packed with intense flavors and high nutritional value. Shiso microgreens can add color and flavor to salads, cold noodle dishes, and other meals.
- Seedlings: Unlike microgreens, seedlings grow longer and are transplanted after developing their second set of true leaves. These mature shiso plants are used extensively in cooking due to their more developed taste and structure.
- Varieties of Shiso Microgreens
Shiso comes in several varieties, each with its unique characteristics:
- Green Varieties: The green shiso, also known as "Ao Shiso" in Japanese cooking, has a bright, refreshing flavor reminiscent of basil and mint. Its vibrant green leaves make it a visual standout in a dish or a salad.
- Red Shiso: Known as "Aka Shiso," the red variety is famous for its deep purple-red leaves that provide a beautiful color contrast in any dish. Its flavor is somewhat stronger and sharper than the green variety, with hints of cinnamon.
Read More: Guide to Grow Lemon Balm Microgreens
Growing Shiso Microgreens: A Step-by-Step Guide
Now that we've introduced you to Shiso microgreens let's dive into the practical aspects of growing these delightful herbs. With our step-by-step guide, you'll learn the best methods for planting, nurturing, and harvesting your Shiso microgreens, ensuring a flavorful and nutritious crop.
Step 1: Understand Suitable Growth Conditions
Before beginning, it's essential to understand the ideal conditions for growing Shiso microgreens. These conditions include:
- Temperature: Shiso microgreens prefer warmer conditions, with ideal soil temperatures of about 68-72°F (20-22°C). These temperatures provide the best environment for seed germination and growth.
- Water: Shiso seeds require a balanced amount of water—too much, and you risk causing mold or diseases; too little may hinder their germination and growth. The soil should be kept moist but not waterlogged.
- Light: Shiso microgreens can tolerate various light conditions but thrive best under bright, indirect sunlight or supplemental lighting.
Step 2: Preparing for Planting Shiso Seeds
Preparation is a crucial part of ensuring healthy and robust microgreens. Here is what you need to do:
- Pre-soaking the seeds: While not necessary for Shiso seeds, pre-soaking them in water for a few hours can speed up germination.
- Soil preparation: Choose a well-draining soil or seedling mix. Ensure that it's evenly spread across your chosen container or tray.
Step 3: Planting Process
- Broadcasting Seed: Scatter your Shiso seeds evenly across the surface of your soil or seedling mix. There's no need to worry about spacing—as microgreens, they'll be harvested before they get too large.
- Covering Seeds: Lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil, ensuring that some light can still reach them. This step helps keep the seeds in place and gives them the darkness they need to germinate.
Step 4: Selecting Containers and Trays
Choosing the right containers or trays for planting your Shiso microgreens is crucial. You can opt for commercially available microgreen trays or use any shallow container with drainage holes at the bottom. Ideally, the container or tray should be around 1 to 2 inches deep to accommodate the roots and provide sufficient space for growth. Remember to place a tray underneath to capture any excess water.
Step 5: Growth and Care
- Watering: The key to watering Shiso microgreens is balance. Water them lightly but frequently to keep the soil moist. Overwatering can lead to mold or root problems.
- Fertilizer Requirements: Shiso microgreens will benefit from a balanced fertilizer. Follow the instructions on your chosen fertilizer to prevent over-fertilization, which can harm your plants.
- Monitoring Growth Rates: Monitor your Shiso microgreens' growth rates. Under ideal conditions, they should be ready to harvest in about 2 weeks.
- Ambient Temperatures: Shiso microgreens prefer warm conditions. Ensure they're kept in a location where the temperature is consistently between 68-72°F (20-22°C). If you're growing them outside, ensure they're protected from harsh weather conditions.
Now that you know the steps to growing Shiso microgreens, it's time to try it! Happy growing!
Harvesting Shiso Microgreens
Harvesting your Shiso microgreens is a moment of success where you reap the fruits of your hard work. It's a simple yet crucial step that impacts your greens' flavor and shelf life. Let's delve into the right way to harvest your Shiso microgreens.
When to Harvest
Shiso microgreens are typically ready to harvest in about 12-14 days, but this can vary slightly depending on your specific growing conditions. The ideal time to harvest is when the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, which usually occurs within this timeframe.
Ideal Size (Inches Tall)
Microgreens usually grow about 3 inches tall at harvest, but this can vary based on factors like the variety of shiso, the growth conditions, and the specific growing method used. It's best to start checking for readiness around the 10-day mark and to keep a close eye on their growth thereafter. Remember, the goal is to harvest the greens when they are young and tender, which is when they provide the most flavor and nutritional value.
How to Harvest
- Prepare your tools: Clean, sharp scissors are the best tool for harvesting microgreens. Ensure they are properly sanitized to avoid any risk of contamination.
- Cut the shoots: When cutting the microgreens, aim to cut just above the soil line. Be careful not to pull out the roots or disturb the soil.
- Handle with care: Microgreens are delicate and can be easily bruised or damaged. Handle them gently to maintain their freshness and quality.
Shelf Life and Storage
- Shelf Life: When properly stored, Shiso microgreens have a shelf life of about 5-7 days. However, for the best flavor and nutritional content, consuming them as soon as possible after harvesting is recommended.
- Storage: Place the harvested microgreens in a breathable container (like a paper bag) and store them in the refrigerator. A bit of paper towel can be added to absorb excess moisture and prolong their freshness. Avoid washing the microgreens until ready to use them, as excess moisture can reduce their shelf life.
Using Shiso Microgreens in Your Kitchen
With their distinctive taste, Shiso microgreens are a versatile addition to various dishes, enriching them with a unique flavor profile and visual appeal. These aromatic greens have a hint of mint and basil flavor, making them an excellent choice for elevating the taste of your food. They can be used fresh and tossed into salads for a refreshing, herby bite.
- In Salads
Shiso microgreens are a fantastic addition to any fresh salad. Their slightly spicy, mint-like flavor adds a new dimension to the fresh crunch of raw veggies. You can mix them with other greens or use them as a garnish.
- In Asian Dishes
As a classic ingredient in Japanese cuisine, Shiso microgreens are commonly used to flavor various Asian dishes. They add a pop of color and a unique taste to cold noodle dishes and are often served alongside sushi.
- In Cooked Dishes
Despite being tender, Shiso microgreens can also be added to cooked dishes. They go well with stir-fries, soups, and stews. Add the Shiso microgreens towards the end of cooking to prevent them from wilting too much and losing their vibrant color.
- In Fruit Salads and Desserts
The slightly sweet undertones of Shiso microgreens make them an ideal addition to fruit salads and desserts. They pair exceptionally well with citrus fruits, enhancing their flavor and adding a touch of elegance to the presentation.
With their unique flavor, Shiso microgreens are an exciting ingredient to experiment with in your kitchen. Whether you're creating a simple salad or a gourmet meal, these microgreens will surely add a unique twist to your dishes. Be creative, experiment, and enjoy your home-grown Shiso microgreens!
Related: Steps to Grow Endive Microgreens
Frequently Asked Questions
Is shiso easy to grow?
Yes, Shiso is relatively easy to grow, especially as microgreens. You can expect to start harvesting in about two weeks with the right care, including balanced watering and suitable ambient temperatures.
How long does it take to grow shiso?
Under ideal conditions, Shiso takes 12 to 14 days to grow as microgreens. However, factors such as the growing conditions and specific variety of shiso can influence this timeline.
What is the fastest growing microgreens?
Some of the fastest-growing microgreens include radish, arugula, and pac choi, which can be ready for harvest in as little as 7-10 days. They are ideal for beginners who want to quickly see the fruits of their labor.
What microgreens grow in 10 days?
Among the microgreens that grow in approximately 10 days are basil and kale. These nutrient-packed greens are easy to cultivate, making them a popular choice for novice and seasoned growers.