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How to Grow Microgreens
Growing microgreens is fun and easy. Missing your fresh greens? Looking for a fun project to do with the kids? While you are at it why not grow some mushrooms as well?
What are microgreens?
Pretty much anything can be grown as a microgreen. To be qualified as a microgreen a plant is harvested when the first true leaf unfolds. Do not confuse the cotyledon as the first leaf. This is part of the embryo in the seed of the plant. It gives plants the burst of energy needed to form the first true leaves. It is totally edible.
There is no need to use special seeds for microgreens, but I prefer to use seeds that are non GMO, organic and have a high germination rate. You do need to watch out for several things using garden seeds. Some garden seeds have been treated with special chemicals. There are supposed to break down after planting so that they do not enter the plants.
But microgreens are eaten shortly after planting, so there may not be time for these agents to dissipate. Also, there are certain plants such as eggplant and tomatoes that cannot be used for microgreens. I feel much better using seeds that are labeled for the growing method I will be using, even though they will be more expensive.
Why grow microgreens?
There are several reasons to grow microgreens.
- They are up to 9 times more nutritious than mature greens.
- They go from seed to harvest in 1 – 3 weeks.
- You do not need any special equipment or large spaces to grow them.
- They rarely get pests due to the short amount of growing time.
- There is no need for fertilizer.
- Great addition for sandwiches, stir fry or salads.
What can be grown as a microgreen?
- Swiss Chard
- Salad Greens
- Beet Greens
What equipment do I need?
- A flat, shallow container approximately 2” deep. This could even be a recycled container, as long as it has been cleaned and disinfected. You should always have holes in the bottom of your container. You may choose to use a single use hydroponic mat rather than a container and soil.
- A cover for your container.
- Potting mix.
- You may want to use a propagation mat, although it is not required. If you do use one remove it once the seeds have germinated.
- You may need supplemental lighting if you are growing indoors and don’t have a sunny windowsill.
- A spray bottle for watering.
Growing Microgreens in soil
Microgreens can be grown indoors, in your garden or in your greenhouse.
- Dampen your soil.
- Fill your container with dampened soil
- Sprinkle the seeds over the soil. They should be packed pretty tight and about 1/8” to ¼” apart.
- Cover the seeds lightly with about 1/8” soil.
- Water gently, but thoroughly.
- Cover container with a lid.
- Water with a spray bottle once or twice a day.
- Remove the cover a couple of days after the seeds have germinated.
- Keep in sunlight or under artificial lighting for 12 – 16 hours per day. A sunny windowsill may work for this. If you are growing in your greenhouse you should have no need for additional lighting unless it is late fall, winter or early spring when natural lighting is low.
- Keep watering at least once a day.
- Harvest after the first true leaves have appeared by cutting the microgreens at soil level. THs is typically from 1 – 3 weeks depending on what you are growing. The plants will be between 1” to 3” tall.
Growing Microgreens Hydroponically
You will get a cleaner harvest growing hydroponically as there is no soil. Some plants such as basil grow low to the ground and are hard to harvest and keep clean.
Most hydroponic pads are single use. They will either lose their ability to absorb water, or they will just fall apart after a single use. The ones made from wood fiber make a great addition to your compost pile.
You will still need a tray to place the mats inside. Also, growing microgreens in this manner does require fertilizer or nutrients which are mixed with your water.
- Make sure your water is at a pH of 5.5 to 6.5.
- Soak your mat in your nutrient solution, let it drain and place in your flat tray with holes in the bottom.
- Sprinkle your seeds over the mat spaced according to the directions on the packet.
- Mist with fresh water.
- Cover your tray.
- Mist twice a day.
- After 5 days remove the cover and place in a sunny windowsill or under artificial lighting.
- Keep watering plants daily.
- At 1 -3 weeks when they are ready to harvest cut them off the mat with a pair of scissors.
Growing Microgreens for Profit
Growing microgreens can be quite profitable. With the minimal equipment and small amount of space required your overhead is low. Add to that the fact that microgreens sell for a premium price. Just be sure, as with any business venture, that you find your market, how much it will use and what it is willing to pay before you ever start growing. Do your homework!
If you are going to be selling your microgreens and doing live deliveries, you will have to use a hydroponic growing method to sell to restaurants. They are not permitted to have any soil in the kitchen. But if you are harvesting the microgreens before delivery you can grow them using any method you prefer.
Growing microgreens is fast and simple. Add to that the great nutritional value and you have a winning combination. Try some today! Let us know about your microgreen growing experiences in the comments below.