12 Simple Steps to Grow Microgreens At Home
Stop spending money on microgreens and start making money out of them. Learn how to grow microgreens at home. It only takes a few days before you enjoy super fresh and extra healthy shoots every day. Our easy-to-follow, fully detailed guide will help you through it. Let’s get started.
What You Need To Grow Microgreens
- Microgreens seed mix
- Wide, shallow trays with drainage holes
- Dark plastic dome or plastic wrap
- Organic potting soil or soilless mix
- A semi-heavy plate
- Spray bottle
- Paper towels or tea towels
- Grow light (if good sunlight is unavailable)
How To Grow Microgreens Indoors In 12 Steps
Tried growing microgreens before but failed miserably? We’ll teach you the proper steps so you’ll never have to get microgreens that have yellowish and leggy stems, mold, and are falling over.
1. Choose Your Microgreen Seeds
Growing microgreens doesn’t mean just growing one kind. Technically, almost any grown-up veggie that you eat was a microgreen at some point. So, why not just mix up your favorites and enjoy them in just a few days?
Before you go around choosing which ones to plant, get to know their microgreens version first. Microgreens usually have a more intense flavor than their full-grown version. And these little guys pack more nutrients, too (1).
Here are some of the favorite varieties of microgreens that you can mix and grow together.
|Microgreens||Growing time||What they taste like||Health benefits|
|Radish||5-10 days||Spicy||Packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.|
|Broccoli||7- 14 days||Mild||Considered a superfood, high in Vitamin A, C, and Iron.|
|Mustard||9-14 days||Zesty, Spicy||Rich in protein, folate, and calcium.|
|Sweet Basil||7-10 days||Sweet, mild, aromatic||Has a lot of vitamins, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties.|
|Arugula||7-10 days||Sharp, peppery||Good source of minerals and Vitamin A.|
Germination time is the main thing to consider when mixing seeds for growing microgreens. Growing cilantro and other herbs, for example, takes longer than others. You want to mix microgreens seeds that grow at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll have some shooting up while others are still sprouting. If they’re in the same bed, you can’t harvest properly.
Don’t want to worry about growing times and whatnot? Visit the nearest gardening farm supply store, get microgreen mixes, and go straight to planting. You can also go to your local’s grocery store. They usually have a gardening section.
If you really want a good variety, plant microgreens in separate containers. That way, you get a good mix of taste and health benefits. You can also add some fun by adding colorful varieties. These splashes of color also add more nutrition (2).
Doctors always say to eat a rainbow of food. Microgreens are your best chance to follow the doc’s advice. Some of the vegetable confetti options are:
- Amaranth: These are beautifully Fuschia, mild, earthy, and packed with antioxidants
- Popcorn: These are sweet yellow shoots that boost your immune system
- Sunflower shoots: These light-colored microgreens have a mild, nutty flavor. Plus, they’re rich in amino acids and zinc.
2. Set Up The Beds
Now that you have your microgreens seed mix sorted, time to prep the beds. You can grow microgreens in both soil and hydroponic setups. Either way, they have similar growing requirements.
You actually don’t use regular soil for these babies. So, technically, you’re learning how to grow microgreens without soil. Based on some research, coco noir is the best medium for microgreens.
Why? Because it’s soft enough for the roots to anchor easily. Plus, it stays moist while being well-draining (3). Proper anchoring is essential so that the microgreens grow straight up and don’t plop to the sides. They grow evenly, get enough light, and don’t get tangled.
You can get soilless potting mix in your local tractor store, or you can make your own with a block of coco noir and some perlite. Whatever you decide, don’t forget to rehydrate the coco noir and add some perlite to it. You can also add some of your apartment-made compost for an added nutrient boost.
Growing mats are great alternatives too, but they are more expensive.
Once you have the organic mix, lay it on the containers. Be sure to punch some drainage holes in the bottom. No matter what medium you use, make sure you have drainage holes for the extra water to exit.
3. Count And Prep Your Microgreens Seeds
It’s almost time to sow your microgreens seeds. But first, measure out how much you need. How many seeds you put depends on how big your seedbed is (4).
“As a general rule, the optimal seed density ranges from 2 seeds per square inch for larger seeds and up to 12 seeds per square inch for the smaller seeds.”
Now you don’t want to count hundreds of microgreens seeds, do you? Luckily, there’s an easier way to measure out your seeds. Weighing seeds is the easiest way. Just look at the seed packets for sowing information.
You can plant some microgreen seeds straight out of the pack. But others need a good soak before planting to boost germination (5). These seeds are bigger, like the ones of peas and wheatgrass, and sunflowers. Water softens their seed coat so that the shoot can push through easily.
There are also some seeds that you really don’t want to get wet before planting. We know what happens when you soak Chia. So unless you want to spread pudding all over your seedbed, keep them dry.
4. Sow Your Seeds
You counted your seeds and prepped them. Time to sow! Sprinkle the ideal amount of seeds over your seedbed. Make sure they’re not too close together. Think of it as seasoning. Sprinkle from a higher level so that the seeds spread evenly.
When you’re done, just spritz them with some water. Don’t cover them with the growing medium. Covering them makes them prone to molds. Plus, you don’t want soil debris on your microgreens.
Remember, these little guys won’t grow tall. They won’t have enough leaves to shake out the soil that you cover them with.
You’ll have to brush or rinse them off when you harvest. Washing microgreens too much causes more mechanical stress on the baby shoots. Keep their natural crunch and vibrance by not covering them up with soil.
5. Cover The Containers
Now, I know I said you don’t cover the seeds with soil. What you want to do is cover them with a damp paper towel or a tea towel.
It keeps the seeds comfy and safe. But unlike soil, you can quickly check on the seeds for signs of mold without digging them up. And you can cleanly take it off when they start to germinate.
Aside from the damp towel, you want to cover the tray with a plastic dome to keep the moisture in. Add a weight on top to keep the seeds in contact with the damp towel. You also want to block the light.
“What does all this do?”
All this covering up is called the blackout stage. It mimics a natural soil environment that seeds need to feel comfortable and start to germinate. The damp towel feels like a layer of moist soil. The weight keeps the seeds constantly in contact with what they think is soil. And the darkness triggers them to shoot up to find the light.
Growing microgreens inside a container with all these elements give you total control of the growing process. And this is really what home gardening is about, being in control of what you put into your body. You know what goes into growing the food that you eat.
6. Don’t Drown Them
It takes a few days for the seeds to get used to the environment and realize that it’s the perfect time to spout. While they’re figuring it out, maintain the setup. Spritz the towel with water when it starts to dry out. You want it moist but not soaked.
Pro Tip: Mix 2 tablespoons of lemon juice to a gallon of water in a spray bottle. This gives the seeds the right pH balance for them to grow faster.
Microgreens need a bit of acidity in their water to boost germination. It also prevents mold and root rot from happening.
7. Take Off The Cover
Check on your trays once a day. Gently lift the towel to see if the shoots are starting to emerge. When the seed coats break, you know you’re doing things right. But don’t take anything off yet.
The first thing that pops out of a seed is the root tip. You want to keep the weight on so that the root pushes down into the growing medium. If you take the weight off early, you’ll end up with loosely grounded roots and wonky growing shoots.
After a few days, the shoots will start pushing up. When this happens, you can take off the cover. Shooting upwards is a good sign of well-established roots.
Spritz them with lemon water again after removing the cover. Welcome to the outside world, baby plants!
8. Grow Microgreens In Sunny Areas
Now that the shoots are growing, you want to give them sun time. Direct sun is always best for growing plants (6). Give them at least 5 hours of direct sunlight or 8 hours of indirect sunlight every day.
You can put them out on your balcony or by a windowsill.
Pro tip: If you put them by your windowsill, be sure to rotate the container on a different side every day. Rotating keeps them growing straight.
Plants grow towards the light. That’s just how they are. And since the sun moves throughout the day, the plants chase the sun leaning more to the sunny side. Rotating keeps them from bending too much on one side.
If you don’t have a lot of sunlight in your growing space, feel free to use a grow light. You can even grow microgreens in a vertical garden setup.
9. Let Them Grow
At this point, you just have to wait for the microgreens to reach their ideal height for harvesting.
Keep spritzing every day. You might need to do more on hotter days. Press on the potting soil to see if they need more. Again, it should be moist but not soaked.
Check their leaves too. They should be tender and full. Any signs of wilting or browning edges are not good. They most likely need more sun. Or you’re giving them too much water that their roots start to rot.
You can pluck out a shoot from the middle of the tray to check the roots. If they’re dark and soft, then they’re rotting. Pat out some of the moisture with a paper towel and wait for them to bounce back.
Also, check for any unusual slimy, spiderweb-like growth near the growing medium. That’s a sign of mold (7).
“Generally, the mold problem in microgreens is largely due to a variety of factors including soggy soil, high room humidity, and bad drainage system.”
Add more lemon juice to the water to solve the problem. Or use a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide and 3% white vinegar with water. Just use it sparingly because you might end up killing your plants too.
Also, make sure that those fuzzies are actually mold. Root hairs are fuzzy too, but they aren’t slimy nor smell bad.
10. Harvest Those Babies
Depending on the seeds you sowed, you have to wait between a few days or weeks to harvest. So, how do you know if they are ready for harvesting?
It’s time to harvest when the shoots are about 2-4 inches tall. They also have about 4-5 leaves in all, including their seed leaves. The added leaves are their true leaves. It is where their flavor comes in, so wait for them to show up before harvesting. When the height and leaf count are right, you’re ready to harvest!
Don’t just pluck them out. Microgreens bruise easily, and plucking them in groups can smoosh their stems. Use your hand to bend them to one side gently. Grab a pair of scissors and cut right above the soil line. Do this in several batches, so there’s not too much stress on the microgreens at one time.
Unlike some of their fully grown counterparts, microgreens don’t grow back after harvesting. Remember, these are entire plants already. Yes, the roots still stick to the medium, but there’s no way for them to regrow without leaves.
Harvesting is the end of the growing process. Take a look at what you’ve accomplished. They grow so fast!
11. Enjoy Microgreens At Home
You can use microgreens just like baby greens. They make a fancy and healthy addition to salad greens and garnish for soups. You can even just munch on them as they are.
Their crunch is fantastic in sandwiches, and you can also blend them up in a smoothie.
Microgreens are best eaten fresh to get the most out of their nutritional value. But you can choose to cook bigger shoots like peas or sunflowers. Make sure to wash and clean your harvest first. You can pat them dry with a towel or a salad spinner.
Cooking is a good option if you let them grow a little too big and shoots get a little too fibrous to eat fresh. Mung beans grown into microgreens make tasty stir-fries. They stay crunchy even after cooking and have a great fresh flavor.
Herb microgreens are an excellent way to skip the long wait for the full-grown plant. They may be small, but they are packed with even more flavor!
12. Save Some For Later
It’s good to grow microgreens in big batches. I mean, if you’re going to do all that work and wait, you might as well make it extra worth your while.
Even if microgreens are fragile, they keep well in the refrigerator. Keep them in clamshell containers. That way, they have a lot of room. They won’t get moist up too much as they would when bundled up tightly.
If you do things right, microgreens have a shelf life of about 10 days. Keep them in the crisper where the humidity is high, and the temperature is low. It’s called a crisper for a reason, guys.
Now you know how to grow microgreens indoors. Pretty cool, right? Yes, it is a bit of work checking in on them from time to time. These are essentially babies, after all. Babies that you only have to tend to for a few days.
Once you get the hang of the process, try growing microgreens in even bigger batches. It maximizes your time and effort, plus you can make money out of it. Microgreens are all the rage nowadays.
People are going crazy over salad wraps, and anything with microgreens cost extra because of the hype. Growing your microgreens benefits your pocket while fueling your healthy lifestyle.
The differences between sprouts and microgreens range from how to grow them and what parts you eat.
Sprouts germinate in water and grow in a moist cloth. You don’t plant them in a growing medium after they germinate. And you harvest sprouts before the leaves grow, which takes only a few days. You end up eating the entire plant. They’re crunchier than microgreens and have a mild flavor.
Microgreens are different. You plant them in a growing medium with little water. And then let them grow until they develop leaves, which takes more than a week. YOu only eat the leaves and stems of microgreens.
The easiest microgreens to grow are the ones that germinate fast. These microgreen seeds are tiny and have thin seed coats. So they don’t need soaking before planting.
Some examples of fast germinating microgreens are radish, broccoli, kohlrabi, and arugula. These don’t need soaking, and you can harvest them within two weeks.
If you let microgreens grow, they become a proper seedling. Don’t worry; your efforts aren’t wasted. You just need to transplant them and then grow them out like a standard plant.
You can’t keep them in the seedbed because they need more room to grow. And the seedbed doesn’t have enough nutrients for the growing plant.
Yes, there are microgreens you can’t eat. These plants have toxic components in their stems. Some examples of poisonous microgreens are potato, tomato, rhubarb, and eggplant, to name a few.
Think of it this way; if you usually eat the leaves of a full-grown vegetable, you can eat its microgreen version.
Microgreens sell anywhere from $15 to $40 per pound. They’re expensive partly because of the hype. But also because of their health benefits. These tiny plants are healthier than their full-grown version. So it makes sense to be more expensive.
People that grow microgreens for profit plant several batches at once. It’s efficient, and you get a higher markup with bulk production since you spend the same amount of time no matter how many trays you grow.
- Microgreens: Healthier Than Fully Grown Plants. Retrieved from: https://www.ourmidland.com/lifestyles/article/Microgreens-nbsp-Healthier-than-fully-grown-15384032.php
- Eat A Colorful Variety Of Fruits And Vegetables. Retrieved from: https://www.almanac.com/Eat-colorful-plants-health
- The Best Soil For Microgreens. Retrieved from: https://homemicrogreens.com/soil-for-microgreens/
- The Abcs Of Microgreens. Retrieved from: https://extension.psu.edu/the-abcs-of-microgreens
- Complete List Of Main Types Of Microgreens You Can Grow. Retrieved from: https://grocycle.com/types-of-microgreens/
- Microgreens. Retrieved From: https://extension.arizona.edu/sites/extension.arizona.edu/files/attachment/Microgreens.pdf
- The 6 Problems When Growing Microgreens At Home. Retrieved from: https://microveggy.com/growing-problems/
Tana grew up around island farms and pine forests. Her love for nature lead to her degree in Biology and mission to lessen her environmental impact. Now she grows food in her backyard and shares what she learns from Eco Peanut with others.