Why You Should Grow Your Own Microgreens
There are many advantages to growing your own microgreens:
- They require minimal space.
- You can grow them indoors year-round.
- They produce a quick crop.
- They offer an easy introduction to gardening.
- They’re a versatile addition to salads, sandwiches, wraps, and other dishes.
What to Grow Microgreens In
You should choose your medium carefully when you’re growing microgreens so you can keep the harvesting process as clean and simple as possible. Microgreens like an environment that’s moist but not wet.
A soil-based medium may seem like the simplest choice, but this isn’t necessarily the best option. Soil’s ability to hold water can be detrimental to the microgreens if they become too damp and the soil doesn’t drain quickly enough. Soil is also the messiest option for harvest, particularly with low-growing plants. You’re likely to pull up a lot of soil with the plant if you go this route.
A soil-less medium is often better for microgreens. A product like coir, which is the fibrous material from the outside of a coconut husk, is easily firmed and leveled with minimal mess. Coir easily absorbs moisture so you can keep the seeds damp, yet it allows for ample air circulation, which will prevent the microgreens from developing rot.
Vermiculite, pearlite, and hydroponic lava are other examples of soil-less media that you might use. You can also create your own blend using a combination of any of these suggestions.
Preparing Your Seeds
You can encourage seeds to sprout more quickly by soaking them overnight before planting them. This is especially handy for larger seeds, such as wheat, peas, and sunflowers. Place the seeds in a zip-top bag with warm water and leave them to germinate. Soaking isn’t necessary for smaller seeds.
Where to Grow DIY Microgreens
Select the location for your microgreens carefully to make sure your plants have adequate light and warmth. If you have a sunny south-facing windowsill, this is ideal. However, you can also grow microgreens in the absence of sunlight by using a growlight instead. Microgreens prefer a light that’s more blue than red on the color spectrum, and around 6500 kelvins. Some effective options include:
- Fluorescent T8s.
- 4-pin CFLs.
- LED tube lights.
Microgreens grow best in an environment that’s around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re growing near a window in the winter, you may need to use a heat mat to maintain the right temperature for your plants.Â
When storing seeds for future plantings, you should select a place that’s cool, dark, and dry. Light or moisture can encourage growth before you’re ready. It’s best to store no more than a year’s worth of seeds at a time.
How to Sow Microgreens
You can start sowing microgreens quickly and easily. Once your seeds are ready, follow these steps:
- Fill a shallow tray with about an inch of growing medium. Flatten the medium with your hands or a piece of cardboard so it sits in an even layer.
- Scatter your seeds evenly over the surface of the growing medium.
- Press the seeds gently into the soil using your hand or a piece of cardboard.
- Cover the seeds with a light layer of growing medium.
- Mist your growing tray lightly with a water bottle. Do not pour water into the tray, as this will dislodge the seeds.
- Cover the tray with a lid or plastic wrap to create a humid environment.
How to Grow Microgreens
Once you’ve sown your microgreens, you’ll need to keep a close eye on them to make sure they’re growing well. Check the moisture level a few times a day and mist at least once a day or as needed to keep the growing medium moist.
In about three to seven days, you should see sprouts appear. These sprouts will need light to continue growing. Move your tray to a sunny window or place a grow light over them if you haven’t already done so. Mist your sprouts twice a day to maintain a steady rate of growth.
Watch for these common problems and troubleshoot as needed to keep your microgreens healthy:
- Leggy or pale microgreens: Move the greens to a sunnier spot or adjust your grow light so these plants are getting more light.
- Wilted greens: Wilting indicates that your greens are too dry. Mist several times a day to rejuvenate them.
- Mold: Mold indicates that you have too much moisture or too little airflow for your microgreens. Select a space with lower humidity or more sunlight. You may also need to add drainage holes to your tray.
Most varieties of microgreens are ready for harvest in 2-4 weeks. The greens should be around 1-3 inches tall at this time. You should harvest your greens at the first sign of true leaves, which appear different from the pair of small early cotyledons.
Some greens will pull easily out of the growing medium, while others are best harvested from the tray. This will depend on the type of greens you’re working with. Whether you’ve pulled the entire plant out or you’re harvesting from the tray, you should snip the microgreens off at the base of the plant using a pair of scissors. Whenever possible, harvest your microgreens immediately before use.
Which Microgreens to Grow
You can start sprouting microgreens at home from a wide variety of plants. Technically, you can grow microgreens from any plant that is entirely edible from the root to the leaves. However, there are some options that will sprout more readily than others. If you’re looking for easy microgreens to grow, consider:
- Bok choy.
Learning how to grow microgreens at home is an easy project with immediate rewards when you collect your first harvest.