If you’re interested in creating your own superfood garden at home, this microgreens growing guide will help you get started.
While small in size (which makes them great for limited spaces like apartments), microgreen gardens are incredibly productive for you and your family. In fact, you can yield plenty edible plants from your diy microgreen gardens!
In this article, you’ll learn everything you need to know about growing a successful microgreen garden of you own.
Avoid the “moldy garden pitfalls“. And start growing microgreens right from the start!
Make sure you read through to the end. Because you’re going to learn exactly how to grow your very own indoor microgreens garden rich in nutrients!
Table of Contents
- Microgreens Growing Guide PDF Cheat Sheet
- What Are Microgreens?
- Why Grow Microgreens?
- How Hard Is It To Grow Microgreens?
- How Long Do Microgreens Take To Grow?
- Best Containers For Growing Microgreens
- Which Seeds Are Best For Microgreens?
- Soil And Growing Media For Microgreens
- Sowing Microgreen Seeds
- Covering Microgreens & Germination
- Where To Grow Microgreens
- Watering Microgreens
- Harvesting Microgreens
- How To Store Your Microgreens?
Microgreens Growing Guide PDF Cheat Sheet
This microgreens growing guide features a printable PDF cheat sheet you can use.
These offer a quick summary of the steps involved.
Keep reading this article for a more detailed guide to growing microgreens.
What Are Microgreens?
Simply put, microgreens are tiny plant matter in-between ‘sprouts’ and ‘baby’ greens (those popular leafy greens found in salads). Microgreens are grown to the point that they have at least two ‘true’ leaves post-embryonically after cotyledons appear.
Microgreens have gained popularity among home-grown garden enthusiasts. Many credit Charlie Trotter for popularizing microgreens, who was looking for something a little more ‘avant garde’ to replace the more popular mesclun dishes at the time.
Microgreens Vs Sprouts
Before planning your microgreens garden, it’s important to understand the difference between microgreens and sprouts.
The biggest differences between microgreens vs sprouts are size and growing mediums.
Sprouts are germinated seeds, without soil. They are often grown in wet jars, trays, or hemp bags (I myself like Masontops for broccoli sprouts) depending on the seed you are germinating.
(I will write more about sprouts later on the Where Gardens Grow blog).
Microgreens, on the other hand, are grown in a medium. Such as soil, coco coir, sponges, etc. (more on micgrogreen growing mediums in a moment).
Finally, the big difference between the two is that microgreens are cut at the stem. With spouts, you consume the sprout entirely. From root to leaf.
Keep in mind, there have been noted risks linking sprouts to harmful bacteria. It’s important to remember that sprouts are germinated in humid, high growth environments at room temperature. This is why it is so important to rinse your sprouts within every 24-hours. And allow proper aeration.
It is also a good idea to clean your equipment properly. I recommend submerging it in boiling water prior to getting started.
Why Grow Microgreens?
Fresh microgreens that can pack a powerful nutrient-dense punch to your diet, on demand?
That sounds like a good reason.
Growing microgreens is also cheap. And fun. What’s more, it can be therapeutic. The process of planning your microgardens let’s you get lost in the moment. And you get to care for and watch something grow. Something that will ultimately nurture you and your family!
What about microgreens from grocery stores vs growing your own?
Of course, you can always buy microgreens at your local grocery stores. However, consider that these have often been harvested and stuffed into cold storage for days. Then transported many miles before reaching your home.
Simply put: growing your own microgreens gives you access to the freshest, most affordable greens possible. Your own home garden is the best source you can get!
How Hard Is It To Grow Microgreens?
No need to be intimidated! Growing microgreens is incredibly easy. These amazing superfoods don’t take much effort at all. What’s more, they are a cost-effective plant you can grow almost anywhere.
You can even grow microgreens in the middle of winter. They are well suited for tiny apartments and low-light areas.
This guide to growing microgreens will give you all of the tips and techniques you need for successful superfood harvests.
How Long Do Microgreens Take To Grow?
Depending on the type of microgreen you are growing, they can take anywhere from about 7 – 21 days from seed to harvest.
In fact, some types (such as radish microgreens) can be ready to harvest in as little as a week.
Depending on the type, Microgreens will be about 2 to 5 cm or higher in height when they are ready to harvest. You can also determine their readiness when their first ‘true’ leaves appear beyond the cotyledon.
Keep in mind that you can (and should) stagger your microgreen growing to meet your yield needs (more on that in a moment).
Best Containers For Growing Microgreens
Growing microgreens is so easy that your container options are endless.
You can grow them out of old baking trays, thrift shop finds, milk cartons, and more. Some people even grow them out of egg shells!
Keep in mind: the best containers for growing microgreens are shallow and wide. This is because (with the exception of peas), you do not require much depth for roots. In fact, large pots are discouraged as you will have a lot of unused soil.
When choosing containers for microgreens, consider lightweight, shallow options that are portable. This will ensure that you can easily move your superfood gardens around, and make the containers easier to clean between harvests.
Don’t forget: drainage is crucial. The containers you choose should have holes in the base to allow excess water to pass through as needed. Without proper drainage, your microgreen gardens are susceptible to mould and rot, as well as undersized plant growth.
It can be fun to explore thrift shops for containers. Literally anything that you can punch holes into can be used for potting microgreens. Plastic meal prep containers are a nice option. You can also find beautiful microgreens starter kits for beginners designed specifically for growing these edibles.
Which Seeds Are Best For Microgreens?
When it comes to choosing microgreen seeds, aim for untreated and organic. If possible, source seeds that are produced specifically for microgreens. This will ensure clean, high quality seeds for your edibles.
You should avoid seeds that are treated with fungicide. These sources can often carry into the microgreens, which you don’t want.
Look around for reputable sources. While organic, untreated seeds specifically produced for microgreens can be more expensive – the result is a higher yield and better tasting greens for you and your family. And they will still be more cost effective than purchasing microgreens from the grocery store!
Soil And Growing Media For Microgreens
There are many different options when it comes to growing media for microgreens.
Those who grow microgreens without soil do so with mediums such as paper towels, burlap sheets, perlite, vermiculite, rockwool, pumice, coconut fibre, sponges, sawdust, microgreen mats, and more.
However, using a seed-raising mix is usually your best option. Look for high quality sources and experiment with those that include organic ingredients. Potting mixes with coco coir are also a great choice for nutrient profile and proper water retention and drainage.
You can find varieties of these at your local garden centres or through Amazon.
There are certainly no shortages of brands and mixtures available. You may even opt to make your own seed starting mix. Experiment with different mixes for your microgreen gardens. You may be surprised to find some work better than others.
Sowing Microgreen Seeds
Start by filling your container with approximately 1.5-inches of soil.
Next, sprinkle your seeds evenly over the soil. You can use your fingers in a pinching motion (as if you were sprinkling salt over your food).
After spreading seeds over the surface, sprinkle a light layer of dirt over the seeds. Make sure they are covered. An old kitchen strainer can be a great tool for sifting a layer of soil over your seeds.
Finally, water and press down to gently compact the soil.
Covering Microgreens & Germination
Do you cover microgreen seeds?
Further, adding weight to the cover will help with anchoring the roots into the soil. And allow for a heartier yield of microgreens.
One option is to stack microgreen trays. You can also add a rock or something weighted to apply pressure over the surface.
After covering and weighting your trays, place a towel over top or store them in a dark space. Depending on the microgreens, you will want them to remain weighted and blacked out for usually at least 48 hours. Some varieties can take up to a full week.
Plant types with stronger roots and stems will begin to push the weight upwards. With weaker plants, you will know they are ready when root hairs are not visible above the surface.
Either way, you should see visible cotyledons from sprouts that are ready to photosynthesize.
At this point, you can remove your microgreens from the blackout conditions.
Where To Grow Microgreens
What is the best place to grow microgreens?
The nice thing about growing microgreens is that they do not require plenty of sunlight to grow. This means you can get away with some indirect sunlight by placing your greens near a window.
More sunlight is better, however, because microgreens are harvested shortly after germination (which does not require any direct sunlight), they will do just fine with low light conditions.
Choose a space such as a windowsill, or shelving near a window. You can also store them outside.
Make sure your microgreens are in a warm environment. Ideal temperatures for seed germination ranges from 55 to 75°F (12.7 to 24°C). Note that certain plant types have different requirements. The seeds you choose should offer more specifics on this.
Many microgreen growers will also use fluorescent grow lights. You can get these with a timer (usually 12-14 hours per day) as well. This is a great option for those darker winter months.
If you are growing them outdoors, you may want to cover them with a mesh wire. Birds especially love to eat peas and will snatch them right out of your balcony garden!
Initially, you will start with a generous watering for your seed germination. Make sure the soil remains moist during this time.
You can place a wet paper towel on top of your soil during the germination process to retain moisture. Alternatively, you may need to water the soil twice a day.
Once the germination process has been completed, move to bottom watering microgreens. Simply place your tray (which has holes in the bottom) into another tray that holds water. Allow the soil to absorb the water for a few moments. Then remove it from the water (empty the bottom tray).
Make sure the soil remains moist. You may need to water every one to two days depending on the soil and environment you are growing microgreens in.
Enjoying the fruits of your labor is one of the best parts about growing microgreens!
You put in the effort to grow these little superfoods. And now it’s time to gain the nutritional punch and taste they provide.
Consider harvesting your microgreens as needed. Choose a day you plan to eat them to ensure the freshest possible greens.
How To Know When Microgreens Are Ready To Harvest?
As previously mentioned, you will know your microgreens are ready to harvest when they are approximately 2-to-5 cm or so in height – depending on the plant type.
Most importantly, you will know your microgreens are ready to harvest when their first ‘true leaves’ appear.
To harvest microgreens, simply take a pair of sharp scissors and cut them at the stem, while holding them in your other hand.
Can You Harvest Microgreens More Than Once
Most microgreens can only be harvested one time.
The exception to this is wheatgrass and peas. For both of these varieties, grow them to approximately 15 cms. With peas, cut only the tips and you will be able to continue harvesting them several times.
How To Store Your Microgreens?
Any microgreens you are not consuming soon after harvesting should be stored in a container and refrigerated.
Refridgerated microgreens can last up to a week or so.
The sooner you can consume them the better, as microgreens are young and have a high rate of respiration. As such, post harvest cooling is critical for plant storage – especially with microgreens.
Don’t forget to plant more! Staggering your growth.
Remember, growing microgreens is a process that takes time and patience. You have to do it in order to truly understand the steps.
So go in and get your hands dirty. Start growing microgreens today!