IF YOU SEE NEVEN MAGUIRE AT BLOOM, ASK HIM ABOUT GROWING MICRO-GREENS! – 3rd wk in May 2013

Top chefs like Neven Maguire are setting new trends again. This time they are growing and serving very young seedling plants and sprouted seeds. This is what many people call ‘micro-greens’.

GIY Ireland fan, Mark Diacono and Lia Leendertz have written a book called ‘The Speedy Vegetable Gardener’ (Timber Press) in which they enthuse about micro-greens. These speedy gardeners tell us that,  ‘ As well as being the speediest possible route to leafy greens, micro greens are flavour bombshells. Added to salads of larger leaves they impart zing and liveliness, but they can also be used as a salad in themselves or as a flavouring – they bring a punch of vibrant taste to whatever they are added to.

Micro greens are just tiny seedlings of plants we usually harvest when they are more fully grown. They are sown into compost and grown in light like any normal seedling, but harvested just a week or so after germination when they’ve produced their first pair of leaves.

The plants that work best as micro greens are those with intense flavour and/or colour. Coriander, basil, fennel, radish and the oriental leaves are all great to try. At micro stage they contain the essence of their fully grown selves, only more concentrated, so you get a burst of flavour, stronger and often cleaner than it would be if you left the plant to grow to maturity’.

Áine and myself visited Neven Maguire in County Cavan,  at his famous Blacklion restaurant, McNean House, recently. Also impressive, but a little less famous, is Neven’s kitchen garden. With help from Hans & Gaby Wieland and

Neven's secret to great flavours, home-grown micro-greens sown in guttering in the polytunnel.

Neven’s secret to great flavours, home-grown micro-greens sown in guttering in the polytunnel.

 The Organic Centre nearby in Rossinver, Co. Leitrim, Neven, Amelda and their team are growing all manner of fresh veg and herbs in polytunnels, including micro – greens. You can read more about Neven’s growing techniques in his interview on pages 154 – 155 in (yes you’ve guessed it!) ‘Trevor’s Kitchen Garden’ (www.orpenpress.com).

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