How to grow microgreens at home

How to grow microgreens at home – The beginner’s guide

Last updated on August 15th, 2019

Perhaps you want to change your eating habits and decided to start growing microgreens. Or you’re curious about the health benefits of microgreens and wonder how to grow them at home?

You’re at the right place. Microgreens are easy to grow, and we have put together this step by step guide with illustrations.

In this guide, I will show you everything you need to know to grow microgreens in the comfort of your home, without any gardening knowledge.

1. What are microgreens?

What are microgreens?

Microgreens are tiny plants that are usually harvested after only 7 to 14 days of growth — just before the trues leaves.

Their height can vary from 2” to 4” depending on the variety and harvest timing. We consume only the part above the soil and they have a delicate taste.

Microgreens are the new superfood with remarkable health benefits.

What you need to know is microgreens contain more nutrients at this stage of growth than when they reach full maturity!

They also contain polyphenols, a powerful antioxidant. According to the United States Department of Agriculture; they have on average five times¹ the level of vitamins than their mature plant counterparts.

The best part?

Microgreens could lower your risk of cancer² as well as other diseases such as osteoporosis, Alzheimer while improving your cardiovascular health and much more.

Apparently, ‘we are what we eat’ — So why not including microgreens in your everyday diet today?

They are easy to grow indoors in soil or hydroponically. If you’re a fan of vertical gardening, this is the perfect fit!

2. What are the differences between microgreens and sprouts?

Sprouts are one stage before microgreens, seeds like Alfalfa sprout in only 4-5 days and are really easy to grow in a Mason jar with a perforated lid.

Microgreens vs Sprouts Infographic

3. Equipment needed to grow microgreens indoor

The required equipment to grow your own tiny greens is cheap and easy to find online.

3.1 Seeds

First, look for non-GMO seeds. Microgreens seeds can be bought, depending on where you live, from sprouting seed suppliers like True Leaf Market, West Coast Seeds, Mumm’s, or even Amazon (where you can get quality seeds very quickly).

3.2 Growing medium

Second, you will need to decide which material you will use to grow your microgreens. Popular growing media include:

  • Organic potting soil
  • Coco coir (coconut fiber)
  • Grow mats

My advice for beginners is to use soil. Potting soil hold moisture for longer and microgreens grow taller with stronger stems in my experience.

3.3 Microgreens trays

You can grow successfully microgreens in any containers.

Large-scale producers and greenhouses usually use 10” x 20” trays for their production.

The standard depth of these trays is around 3 5/8”. They are great to cover microgreens during the germination process.

microgreens-trays-standard-trays-comparison

Microgreens specialized trays or “flats” measure 10” x 20” x 1 ¼”. They have the perfect depth and they will allow you to cut the stems closer to the roots without the high edges of standard trays.

They are available with and without holes. In the following example, I use the three types of trays for the germination process. Then, I remove the cover and use only the two microgreen trays for bottom watering. You can also start with smaller DIY containers.

microgreens-trays-illustrations

3.4 Grow lights

I use SunBlaster full spectrum LED strip light for a while now and I recommend them because it is simply the best light I ever tried. They work exceptionally well with all microgreens while generating no heat and you can link up to 8 lights from the same power cord.

3.5 Shelves (optional)

Great to optimize space and organize vertically your material and equipment. Look for shelving units with wheels for extra versatility. Grow lights are super easy to install on these type of wire shelves.

4. Microgreens growing process

4.1 Fill trays (or containers) with growing media

I suggest to use organic potting soil; add a little bit of perlite to the soil-mix because it helps to drain the excess of water.

Then, compress gently with a spoon to create a flat growing surface.

From my experience ½” to ¾” of soil works well. Bigger seeds will develop a stronger root system, so you can give them a bit more soil.

Other growing mediums work well too for smaller seeds like broccoli, kale, etc. Some growers prefer hemp mat because they are mess-free and compostable.

4.2 Soak the seeds or not?

From my experience, soaking the seeds is pretty useless. I have skipped this step and I didn’t notice any change.

I only soak sunflower seeds for 12 hours because they are big, and it helps to have a better germination rate.

4.3 Sprinkle the seed evenly and seed density

First, spray a bit of water on the soil; this way seeds will stick in place in the tray. Then sprinkle seeds evenly.

Here’s the catch: not all seeds need the same density. Sprouting seeds get bigger and will take more space in the tray while developing in the dark. Consequently, there no need to fill out the tray completely.

An excess of seeds will not result in more microgreens. They will lack space and grow on top of each other. You will have a lot of dead sprouts in the tray and can be a pain to harvest.

Start with fewer seeds and increase the density gradually.

4.4 Spray gently and cover the trays

Now you have evenly sprinkled seeds in the tray. Spray water again but, beware to keep the sprinkler away enough to not move the seeds while spraying. Keep the soil moist but not wet.

Take another tray and cover for a couple of days to let the germination process begin.

Depending on the seed variety and temperature, it can take from less than a day to several days to germinate.

4.5 Remove the cover and expose to light

When the stems are longer and plants have developed small yellow leaves, it’s time to exposed them to light. Verify if the soil is moist enough and the photosynthesis begin! Yellow leaves will become green very quickly.

4.6 Harvesting

The best harvest timing is just before the plants develop the real leaves. You know the first leaves are the cotyledon, and the real leaves are the next to grow.

It’s ok to harvest them after but the stems become stiffer and the plant may taste bitter.

5. What are the easiest microgreens to grow?

  1. Red cabbage microgreens rank in the first position, they are not the fastest to grow but you will not encounter any challenges along the way with this one.
  2. Pea shoots rank in second, make sure to stack them while they are covered in order to let them grow deeper roots so they will stay right in the container.
  3. Radishes are among the easiest microgreens to grow and the fastest from seed to harvest. They can be harvested after only 7 days. The only challenge you may have with radishes is mold.

6. Frequently asked questions

What are the most popular microgreens?

Last updated on August 15th, 2019

From my experience, sunflowers, kale, cress, broccoli, radish, and pea shoots are among the favorite.

What is the ideal relative humidity to grow microgreens?

Last updated on August 15th, 2019

Microgreens do not require a high level of humidity. Around 40% is the ideal reading. Of course, during the germination process in the first days, while covered, the relative humidity is higher.

Notes:

¹ Specialty greens pack a nutritional punch by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

² Natural polyphenols for prevention and treatment of cancer

 

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