Raising microgreens at home can be a great way to enjoy fresh, nutrient-filled greens throughout the year.
Whether you’re an experienced gardener or just starting out, learning how to grow your own microgreens can be rewarding and surprisingly easy. And that’s what we’re all about!
From choosing the right seeds for maximum flavor and nutrition to harvesting your bounty of tiny leaves – we’ll cover it all so that you can start growing delicious microgreens in no time.
So let’s dive into everything you need to know about growing microgreens at home.
Table of Contents
Choosing the Right Seeds for Microgreens
Selecting the best seeds is essential when cultivating microgreens since they may vary in terms of germination rate and nutritional value.
There are two main categories of microgreen seed: true leafy greens and herbs.
True leafy greens are tried and true favorites such as kale, spinach, arugula, mustard greens and chard.
Then herbs like cilantro, basil, dill and parsley can provide a flavorful accent to salads or dishes.
Each variety provides its own distinctive taste that can liven up salads or meals when used as a topping.
When selecting your microgreen seeds make sure they are certified organic if possible.
Seeds that are not certified organic could contain dangerous substances, so it’s essential to be sure of their origin.
It’s also important to check the expiration date on the package – older seeds may not germinate as well as fresher ones.
For the more advanced level gardener, it’s important to consider whether you want open pollinated (OP) or hybrid (F1) varieties of seed for your microgreens garden.
OP varieties are generally hardier and can withstand temperature fluctuations better than their F1 counterparts.
However, hybrids have been selectively bred to possess certain traits such as disease resistance or higher yields that may require a more specific environment in order to flourish.
Do your due diligence when calculating the amount of seed you need – not too little or else growth will be sparse, and not too much which could lead to overcrowding, stunted growth, and diseases spreading between plants.
Use your smarts to make sure you get the right number of packets for what you desire in terms of area coverage or trays needed for harvesting purposes.
Selecting the correct seeds for microgreens is the first step to developing an effective and nutritious garden.
With careful consideration, you can ensure that your microgreen plants will thrive.
Now let’s move on to preparing soil for these delicate seedlings.
Preparing Soil for Microgreens
When it comes to growing microgreens, soil preparation is key.
For optimal success with your microgreen garden, ensure you have quality soil by following these tips for soil preparation.
To ensure that you have the best results when growing microgreens, here are some tips for preparing your soil.
Select the Best Potting Soil
First, select a potting mix tailored to vegetables and herbs that ensures proper drainage and nutrition.
This type of mix will provide adequate drainage and nutrients for your plants while keeping their roots healthy.
You can also add compost or other organic matter to enrich the soil further if desired.
Fertilize the Soil
Second, fertilize your soil before planting with an organic fertilizer like fish emulsion or liquid seaweed extract.
These fertilizers provide the essential nutrients to plants and stimulate root development.
Additionally, adding worm castings or mycorrhizal fungi can help improve water retention and nutrient uptake in the soil and reduce disease-causing organisms like nematodes and fungi gnats which can damage young seedlings.
Test the pH Levels
Third, test the pH levels of your potting mix before planting anything in it so that you know what kind of adjustments may be needed to ensure optimal growth conditions for microgreens (ideally between 6-7).
If necessary adjust pH by adding lime or sulfur depending on whether you want more acidic or alkaline soils respectively – this step is especially important when dealing with sandy soils since these tend to be naturally low in fertility anyway.
Making ready the ground for microgreens is a must for harvesting success.
Planting your seeds correctly will ensure that you have healthy and abundant microgreens ready to enjoy. Let’s explore that next.
Takeaway: To ensure the best results when growing microgreens, it's important to start off with a potting mix specifically designed for vegetables and herbs, fertilize the soil before planting using natural organic fertilizer such as fish emulsion or liquid seaweed extract, and test your soil pH levels to adjust them if needed.
When planting microgreens, timing is key. To get the most out of your microgreens, you should sow them promptly after buying.
This will help to ensure that they germinate quickly and healthily.
You can either scatter the seeds evenly over a flat tray or pot filled with soil or compost, or you can use a seeding tool such as a dibber to create rows of evenly spaced holes in which to place your seeds.
If using trays or pots, be sure to leave enough space between each seed for it to grow without overcrowding its neighbors.
Gently water the soil until moist but not wet, as too much moisture can lead to mold growth and impede sprouting.
Once watered, cover the tray with cling film if indoors and place somewhere warm (around 18-21°C) and light (but not direct sunlight).
After around 5-7 days you should start seeing signs of life.
This is when it’s time to thin out any overly crowded seedlings so that each plant has room enough for healthy growth.
Be careful when doing this though – try not to disturb any roots that may already have formed beneath the surface.
Once your microgreens are established in their new homes (which shouldn’t take more than 2 weeks), regular watering is essential – aim for twice daily at least during hot weather periods.
Additionally, plenty of light exposure throughout the day will help keep them growing strong and healthy.
Growing microgreens is an effortless and gratifying experience that can give you access to nutritious, vibrant vegetables throughout the year.
With proper care and maintenance, your plants will thrive. Next up – watering them correctly.
Takeaway: Time is of the essence when planting microgreens; sow them as soon as you can for best results. Cover the soil with vermiculite or fine sand and water lightly, then place somewhere warm and light but not in direct sunlight. Finally, thin out overcrowded seedlings after a few days to ensure each plant has enough room to grow properly.
Watering microgreens is an essential part of the growing process. If done incorrectly, it can lead to wilting, yellowing and other issues that will reduce your yield.
So, it’s important to understand how much water microgreens need and when they should be watered.
You want to make sure you don’t overdo it or under do it.
Not providing enough H2O can lead to wilting and death of the plants, while too much water may drown them.
It’s best to give them a light mist every day with just enough moisture for their roots to take in without becoming saturated.
A spray bottle works well for this task as long as you don’t use one that has been used for chemical products previously.
The amount of water needed depends on the soil – sandier soils necessitate more regular irrigation than clay-based which secure moisture better.
If you live in a dry climate or have hot weather conditions then more frequent watering may be necessary compared with cooler climates where less is required due to higher humidity levels naturally present in the air around them.
It’s also important not forget about drainage when growing microgreens.
Having good drainage ensures excess water doesn’t pool up around the roots which could cause root rot or other problems down the line if left unchecked.
Make sure there are holes at bottom of containers/trays so any extra liquid can escape before settling into soil causing potential damage.
Proper watering is essential for healthy microgreens growth.
Moving on, let’s discuss the lighting requirements necessary to ensure successful germination and development of your microgreen crop.
Takeaway: Watering microgreens is key to success; you need to strike a balance between too much and not enough. Be sure to factor in the type of soil being used as well as climate conditions, and ensure there are good drainage holes so excess water doesn't pool up around the roots.
Lighting Requirements for Microgreens
For successful microgreen growth, proper lighting is essential as it allows the plants to photosynthesize and remain strong.
Without adequate light, the plants will not be able to photosynthesize and will become weak and spindly.
A range of lighting solutions exist to support microgreen growth indoors, ensuring they get the illumination needed for successful photosynthesis.
Natural sunlight is ideal for growing microgreens indoors as it provides the full spectrum of light necessary for photosynthesis.
Nevertheless, the sunlight from the sun may not be constantly accessible or dependable depending on where you live and how much direct sunshine your house gets daily.
If natural light is unavailable or insufficient, artificial lighting can provide the necessary energy for photosynthesis.
Artificial Lighting Sources
Artificial lights such as LED grow lights are becoming increasingly popular among gardeners who want to give their plants a boost without relying solely on natural sunlight.
LED grow lights are available in various forms and sizes, able to either supplement or supplant natural light depending on the situation.
When using LED grow lights, make sure they are placed close enough so that all parts of the plant receive ample coverage but far enough away so that they do not burn or damage delicate foliage.
Full Spectrum Lights
Full-spectrum LEDs mimic natural daylight which makes them perfect for providing consistent illumination throughout all stages of growth from seedling through harvest time.
These types of bulbs also offer better control over intensity levels than traditional incandescent bulbs which helps prevent burning leaves while still giving off plenty of heat during cold winter months when temperatures drop below optimal ranges for microgreen growth cycles (50-80°F).
Ensuring the right illumination is a must for microgreens to flourish, so it’s crucial to be aware of the diverse lighting solutions out there.
Next, we’ll discuss harvesting microgreens – the final step to enjoying your homegrown bounty.
Takeaway: Lighting is an essential element for growing microgreens, and fortunately there are various lighting options available. Natural sunlight or LED grow lights can be used to supplement existing light sources while full-spectrum LEDs provide a more consistent illumination across all stages of growth.
Harvesting microgreens is an important step in the gardening process.
Realizing when and how to harvest your microgreens is essential for a successful crop.
Microgreens are ready for harvesting once they reach two to three inches tall, usually about 10-14 days after planting.
You can tell that a microgreen is ready for harvesting when it has developed its first true leaves—the second set of leaves after germination—which appear more mature than the cotyledons or seed leaves.
To harvest your microgreens, use scissors or a sharp knife to cut them at soil level.
Take care not to pull up any roots as this can damage the plant and cause disease problems down the line.
Once reaped, you can store your microgreens in a plastic bag with some moist paper towels inside to maintain freshness for up to five days when refrigerated.
Alternatively, if you plan on using your microgreens right away, simply rinse off any dirt before eating.
When storing freshly harvested greens for later use, make sure that there isn’t too much moisture present; otherwise they may become slimy or moldy over time.
If possible, try wrapping each individual portion of greens separately before placing into storage bags so that air circulation is maximized and condensation doesn’t build up within each package during storage.
Adding lemon juice or vinegar helps preserve their color and texture while also reducing spoilage rates due to bacterial growth caused by humidity levels being too high inside sealed packages containing moist produce such as these tender baby plants.
Takeaway: Harvest your microgreens when they reach two to three inches tall, typically 10-14 days after planting. Cut them at soil level using scissors or a sharp knife, and store in the fridge with damp paper towels for up to five days; otherwise wrap each portion separately before placing into storage bags for optimal freshness.
Common Mistakes When Growing Microgreens
Over-watering is one of the most common mistakes made when growing microgreens.
Excessive hydration can cause the roots to decay, resulting in reduced nutrient absorption and inhibited growth.
To avoid this mistake, be sure to only water your microgreens when the soil feels dry to the touch. It’s also important not to over-fertilize as this can lead to nutrient burn which will stunt or kill your plants.
Another common mistake is not providing enough light for your microgreens.
Microgreens require a daily dose of direct rays for optimal growth, so make sure to give them at least 8 hours of sunshine.
If you don’t have access to natural sunlight, then make sure you provide an artificial source of light such as LED lights or fluorescent bulbs placed close enough that they reach all parts of your garden bed evenly without burning out any leaves or stems.
Harvesting too early is another issue that novice growers often face when trying their hand at growing microgreens.
While it may be tempting, resist the urge.
Harvesting too soon will leave you with smaller yields and less flavorful greens than if you wait until they are mature before harvesting them.
As a general rule, wait until after 3-4 weeks from planting before harvesting so that your greens have had time to fully develop their flavor profile and nutrition content before picking them off their stems.
Finally, improper spacing between plants can lead inexperienced gardeners astray when growing microgreens indoors or outdoors alike.
When sowing seeds for microgreen production indoors, make sure there is adequate space between each plant; overcrowded trays are more prone to disease spread due to lack of airflow between individual plants which could potentially wipe out entire crops if left unchecked.
Similarly, outdoor gardens should also adhere by proper spacing rules so as not to compete with neighboring plants for resources like moisture and nutrients while still allowing ample room for healthy root development and growth patterns over time.
Takeaway: To avoid common mistakes while growing microgreens, make sure to only water when the soil is dry, provide adequate light and space between plants, and wait until after 3-4 weeks before harvesting for maximum yield. Don't over-commit; provide your plants with ample room to thrive and reach their maximum yield.
Growing Microgreens at Home FAQs
Is it worth it to grow your own microgreens?
Yes, it is worth growing your own microgreens. Growing microgreens at home can be an economical and sustainable way to access fresh produce year-round. Microgreens boast a wealth of nutrients, minerals and antioxidants that can bring about multiple health advantages. Given their low space and effort requirements, microgreens are an ideal choice for those with limited resources or who lack the capacity to commit to more extensive gardening ventures.
Is it safe to grow microgreens at home?
Yes, it is safe to grow microgreens at home. With the proper safety precautions and guidelines followed, growing microgreens can be a great way to get fresh produce from your own backyard. Microgreens are typically grown in soil or on hydroponic mats and require little maintenance once planted. When harvesting, make sure to use clean tools and wash hands thoroughly before handling them. Additionally, avoid using any fertilizers that could contain harmful chemicals as this could contaminate the crop. By following these steps you can safely enjoy delicious homegrown microgreens.
Why grow microgreens at home?
Harvesting homegrown microgreens is a simple and efficient way to obtain nutrient-rich produce. Microgreens are typically ready for harvest in just 10-14 days and can be grown year round indoors or outdoors. They require very little space, making them ideal for urban gardens and balconies. The small size of the plants also makes harvesting easy and efficient; you can simply snip off what you need as needed without uprooting an entire plant. Plus, they offer high levels of vitamins A, C & K along with other essential nutrients that may not be found in store bought produce.
What are the disadvantages of microgreens?
Microgreens can be a great way to get fresh produce at home, but there are some drawbacks. Harvesting microgreens multiple times before maturity is a disadvantage, as they need more frequent attention than larger plants. Harvesting must be done promptly, or else the microgreens may spoil. Microgreens often require specialized soil mixes and nutrient supplements in order for them to thrive, which can add additional cost and complexity when compared with other types of gardening. Finally, microgreens are not as hardy as their mature counterparts; if temperatures dip too low or humidity levels become too high, crops may suffer damage or even die off completely.
Growing microgreens at home can be a fun and rewarding experience.
With the right preparation, you will have success in growing your own microgreens with minimal effort.
Choose seeds that are suited to your environment, prepare soil for optimal growth, plant carefully and water regularly to ensure healthy plants.
Provide adequate lighting and harvest when ready. Remember to avoid common mistakes such as over-watering or planting too densely so you can enjoy delicious homegrown greens all year round.
Start growing your own food today!
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