Food expert Campbell Mickel, co-owner of the newly awarded Bib Gourmand restaurant Merienda in Edinburgh, tells us what inspired him to grow his own micro herbs to add to Merienda’s dishes and what you can do to get started on your own micro herb garden. 

Micro herbs are tender immature plants, bursting with nutrients and able to be grown all year long.

They are the seedlings of plants that are usually harvested when they are fully grown, they are just like any other plant but harvested usually when there are four or more leaves.

The edible part of Microgreen consists of stem, cotyledons and the first pair of young true leaves.

Campbell decided to grow and harvest his own micro herbs for Merienda to add
“beauty, flavour and freshness” to any of his dishes.

Though micro herbs can be grown in natural light, growth will be quicker on a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. Campbell uses these special grow lights to allow his own micro herbs to flourish.

Micro herb garden

You can use almost any vegetable seed to grow micro herbs (some are tastier than others), but a lot of companies offer special Microgreen seed mixes that are a great
option for first-timers to experiment with at home.

• READ MORE: New restaurant Merienda to offer an evolving menu of exciting Scottish small plates to Edinburgh diners

If you are looking to start out, Campbell recommends first growing some Micro Coriander as it is very easy to grow, looks amazing and compliments so many different types of dishes. All you need to start out are some heat lights, seeds, soil and water.

Once you have sourced your supplies and your herbs have started to grow, Campbell recommends harvesting every 7-10 days.

To harvest, you must cut the shoots just above ground level with scissors. Many types of herb can regrow and be cut several times. Keep in mind that afterwards, the tray contents can be added to your compost heap.

Micro herb garden

Micro herbs make great garnishes. Picture: Shutterstock

Micro herbs are best eaten right after harvesting, but will keep in a glass jar in the fridge for a few days

Even though you can use micro herbs to add colour to a dish, they have a defined taste so it must compliment the meal you are cooking and serving. Campbell particularly recommends serving a micro herb if their big brother is present in the
dish, to enhance the flavour and maximise nutrients.

Campbell suggests the following four herbs to get you started:

Coriander – Coriander is full of flavour. This leafy herb packs a real aromatic punch to your cooking or salads.

Pea shoots – Pea Shoots have a nutty, distinct flavour and are full of vitamins A, B, C and E. They are wonderful in a salad and their tendrils look very attractive.

Garlic Chives – The shoots, once cut, will add a slight garlic & onion flavour to any dish that they are added to. The flowers also add a mild onion/garlic flavour and can be used as a garnish

Micro Radishes – The pleasantly peppery radish Microgreens boast a flavour similar to that of root radishes.

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About The Author

Sean Murphy

Driven by a passion for all things drinks-related, Sean writes for The Scotsman extensively on the subject. He can also sometimes be found behind the bar at the world famous Potstill bar in Glasgow where he continues to enhance his whisky knowledge built up over 10 years advising customers from all over the world on the wonders of our national drink. Recently, his first book was published. Dubbed Gin Galore, it explores Scotland's best gins and the stories behind those that make them.

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