Micro-herbs: little gifts from nature

So, it's official. When it comes to nutrition it seems that size really does matter. Or at least that's the case when it comes to micro-herbs.These tiny little beauties are packed with nutrition, which far out-strips it's mature plant cousin.  It is thought that this is down to when they are harvested -  just after germination; which ensures the most concentrated nutritional value.  All sorts of health claims have been made for micro-herbs. However, we now have scientific research to back this up. Researchers studied 4 groups of vital nutrients - vitamins K, C, E, lutein and beta carotene - which are all essential for healthy eyes, skin and cancer prevention. The results were published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry and in some cases it was noted that the nutrient content of the leaves in the micro-herbs were 4-6 times higher than it's mature plant equivalent.

However, it's not just about the nourishment - as important as all of that is. The greater concentration in the smaller leaves makes for improved  flavour and texture. (Something that the chefs discovered years ago.) I'm a bit of a foodie and have seen (and tasted) the  artistry that micro-herbs can bring to a clean white plate. Now you no longer need to seek out a Michelin-starred restaurant to enjoy this type of culinary experience, as these glorious little gifts from nature are now more accessible to the general public.

Micro-herbs are surprisingly easy to grow at home, with minimal start up costs and on going effort. If you want to have a go at growing your own, to my mind,  it couldn't be simpler. All you need in your starter kit are lidded seed trays with a special lining, seeds, a water spray and supplementary lighting. It also helps to have Ph testing strips and a room  thermometer, as the seeds probably do best at an ambient temperature of about 20c. The seed tray can be placed on a sunny window sill. However, the growing process takes longer this way, particularly if you live in a part of the world where daylight and sunshine are restricted.

On the subject of daylight and sunshine I was surprised to learn that micro-herbs will thrive just about anywhere. If you live in the Las Vegas area you probably already know about Urban Hydro Greens; a fantastic warehouse in the desert that grows micro-greens commercially. On the flip side there are growers in some of the most unlikely spots in the UK. I recently discovered Zero Carbon Food who grow sustainably produced micro-greens 33 metres below the streets of London in a disused underground tunnel! Check out their story. Inspirational.

So, tomorrow I'm off to the Hebridean Island of Mull for unrivalled  fresh air and some amazing food. Pea shoots and edible flowers here I come! I'll  keep you posted.

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