Red shiso, also known as Perilla or Beef-Steak Plant, is a Southeast Asian variety with a flavour that is a mix of both basil and mint. It is a microgreen variety that has become a popular garnish for noodle dishes, pastas, seafood and many more.
Microgreen growing guide:
Equipment you will need:
- 2 x 10×20” trays (no holes)
- 1 x 10×20” tray (with holes)
- 10-15 grams of red shiso seeds
- Growing medium (coir peat or organic soil)
- Nutrient (optional)
- Hydrogen peroxide mixture (2tbsp/1L water)
- Pre-soak seeds: 2 – 4 hours.
- Blackout period: 4 – 6 days
- Germination time: Approx 3-7 days
- Harvest: 11-21 days
- Grow at approx. 20ºC, as this replicates a spring climate in Southeast Asia.
- Heat mats can be used to maintain soil temperature at this temperature
- Ensure good circulation in your growing space
- Shiso can be difficult to grow as it prefers warm, moist conditions, however it does not like excessive light
- Maintain moisture level to ensure germination.
- Avoid overwatering as shiso seedlings can be prone to damping off
- Begin seeding your tray
- Start with a nested set of 2 trays – 10 x 20″ without holes as a solid base, and the drainage hole tray
- Add your growing medium in the 10×20″ tray with holes. Flatten surface of grow medium
- Evenly spread 10g of seeds across your growing medium
- Water your seeds
- Water the seeds well with a spray mister
- Place tray on top and add weight
- Put another tray on top of your microgreens
- Add a weight (approx. 2 – 3 kg) to the top of the tray.
- Continue to mist the growing medium twice daily (morning/night) during the blackout period
- Day 3: Check if the seeds have germinated
- Shiso can take at least 3-7 days to germinate
- Ensure the medium is continually moist, but not oversaturated.
- Day 6: remove weight, open tray
- Most seed hulls should have shedded and even germination should be occurring
- Ensure growing medium is still sufficiently moist. If not, mist with more water
- If you lift the growing tray and survey the roots and notice discoloration (possibly mould), spray with a hydrogen peroxide mixture
- Flip the top tray so it now creates a space for your shiso to grow taller (they typically stay small then will grow suddenly). Leave weight off
- Day 8: remove top tray
- Blackout period is finished
- Option: add organic nutrient to your microgreens as it can aid with growth in peat coir – this would be done through pouring ½ cup of nutrient into the bottom tray
- Place tray under light conditions (6-12 hours per day) with good air circulation
- Continue growing your microgreens
- Harvest shiso microgreens in approx. 11 days, or continue to let them grow at the height at suits you.
Mature shiso growing guide:
If you choose to, you can continue growing your microgreens into mature shiso plants. Their fully grown leaves are a great addition to both green or fruit salads. They’re also popular in many different Asian dishes, particularly with raw fish.
- Seed starting
- Some growers recommend sowing your shiso seeds indoors 4-6 weeks before the last spring frost
- Transplant seeds
- Transplant seedlights after around 3 weeks to your garden, once there is no chance of frost occuring (night time temperatures should be above 8ºC
- Plant your seedlings 25-30cm apart as they grow quickly and will be large and in an area that receives sunlight 6-8 hours a day
- Be sure to keep the soil around your shiso moist as this will allow them to thrive
- It is recommended to either feed compost around your shiso growing area every 3-4 weeks during their growing season
- Once your plants grow to a suitable size for you (generally a few inches tall), it’s time for their harvest
- Harvest this variety by cutting off a sprig from the plant, just above the junction of two leaves, this will allow it to develop a bushy growth habit
- Seed starting