Reference this page for a general guide for growing microgreens at home.  Each microgreen is unique, and everyone's grow environment is different, so don't be afraid to experiment and tweak the guidelines.  We'll also add in more detail as requested, and check out the individual plant pages for more growing information and pro tips.

 

Basic Plant Stages

 

Sprouts – Sprouts are the first stage of a seed’s development and are generally grown without a growing medium (soil), but are sprouted and rinsed in a sprouting tray, jar or bag.  Typically eaten 4-5 days after the seeds germinate with roots and all.

 

Microgreens – Microgreens are the second stage of a plant’s life, where roots establish themselves and the first leaves (called cotyledons) appear.  Micro greens are typically grown indoors, and har­vested at this stage before the adult leaves emerge.  Plants in the microgreen stage are typically at their peak of flavor intensity, and are more nutritionally dense than their adult counterparts (studies show up to 40 times more nutrient dense than mature).  Some exceptions to the “true” definition of a microgreen would be plants like sweet pea shoots, pea tendrils and corn shoots; grown and harvested at an early stage, but not necessarily with only first leaves.

 

Baby Salad Greens – Baby salad greens of every variety are usually easier to grow outdoors in soil and are allowed to grow for a week or two beyond the microgreen stage when the adult leaves have emerged.  Baby greens are harvested while they are still juvenile plants.  The flavors are much closer to their full adult stage.

 

General Step by Step

 

Step 1: Prepare your container, grow medium, and seeds

 

Microgreens are best grown in a shallow tray or container, with a layer of soil between a half and one inch deep, acting as a mechanism for the seeds to root into. 

 

The type of container is a personal choice, and can range from standard seed trays, to kitchen containers, to reusable plastic take out containers.   Keep in mind that a humidity dome is recommended, meaning a lid (not air tight) of some sort that will hold moisture while your seeds are germinating.  Avoid using cardboard, paper, or materials that will absorb moisture away from the seeds.  A second tray or container of like size inverted over your grow tray or container works well for a humidity dome.  A “blacked out” dome works best, but isn’t absolutely necessary.

 

The growing medium is also a personal preference, although some definitely work better than others.  We recommend coco coir as a clean, sustainable, renewable grow medium; it typically doesn’t contain any additives or by products, and is easily composted after use.  Other soils can also be used, keeping in mind that the microgreens will be grown in your house, so organic additives like fish emulsions or blood meal may have a tendency to smell or attract pests.  There’s also numerous grow mats available in to grow on; many but not all seeds will grow on mats.

 

Seed with hard seed hulls should be soaked overnight before planting.  These are usually larger seed varieties like pea, corn, or sunflower.  Consult where you purchased the seeds for any specifics before planting. 

 

Step 2: Sow your seeds

 

Evenly broadcast your seeds over the growing medium; the seeds don’t have to be perfectly spaced, just break up any clumps with your fingers, and work seeds into the corners and edges (when using coir or soil).  Check out this video for reference.

 

Microgreen seeds should ALWAYS be untreated, meaning no factory pre-treat with herbicides or fungicides.  We also recommend non-GMO, and purchasing from sources with fast turnarounds of seed, to ensure you’re getting “fresh” seed.  Organic seed is also a personal preference, and should be sourced through reputable sellers where proper handling is ensured. 

 

 As a general rule, it’s not recommended to mix multiple types of seeds to grow together.  Different seeds grow at different rates and have different environmental preferences.  That said, liked sized seeds are your best options to grow together in the same container; mustards with other mustards for example, and plants like broccoli, kales and cabbages grow well together.  

 

Most microgreen seeds don’t need to be buried.  The exceptions to this are mold prone seeds like sunflower, or seeds that prefer a little more heat while germination like nasturtium.  Each seed and each environment is a little different, so don’t be afraid to experiment.    

 

Mist the seeds after sowing so they’re nice and wet and have good contact with the soil.  Also mist your humidity dome.  Set your tray in a place where it won’t have temperature extremes or excessively high air flow.  

 

Step 3: Germinate your seeds

 

At least once daily, evenly mist the seeds to make sure they remain moist to allow germination.  Re-mist the humidity dome as well. 

 

The medium shouldn’t be muddy or excessively wet, nor should it have dry patches from inconsistent misting – use your judgment until you get a good feel for your environment. 

 

Root radicals, tiny hairs on the roots emerging from the seeds, are common at this stage, and most commonly mistaken for mold or fungus.  Root radicals on the majority of the sprouting seeds are a sign of a healthy crop.  Mold or fungus will be more localized, affecting a small portion of the tray, and overtaking the sprouts, or creating a spider web look. (See below picture)

Step 4: Expose to light

 

When the plants have a defined stem, are about one inch tall, and are evenly germinated throughout your grow container, remove the humidity dome and place in light.  Plants will be yellow, since they weren't exposed to light, but will green up in hours.  (See below picture)

 

A bright window works well for natural lighting; some sun is fine during winter months, but typically not recommended during summer.  In low light situations, your crop may get “leggy”, and reach for light; this doesn’t affect flavor or nutrition.  If your crop angles for light, just rotate the tray occasionally.

 

 You can also use fluorescent or LED grow lights, but nothing fancy or high wattage is needed for growing microgreens.  The spectrum should be “bright white” or “daylight”, with around 6500K, and fixtures should typically be placed within 12-18” of the top of your grow tray for optimal effect.   

 

Step 5: Provide water and check daily

 

Once exposed to light, discontinue misting the crop, and instead drizzle water evenly over the tray each day.  Again use your judgment as to whether the soil is too wet or dry and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.

 

Step 6: Harvesting, rinsing, serving and storing

 

Most types of microgreens are ready for harvest in roughly 8-14 days. 

 

Using scissors or a sharp knife; give your greens a “haircut” snipping just above the growing medium.  You can eat them right out of the tray, or give them a rinse in a colander or salad spinner to remove any remaining seed hulls.  Strain and place on a paper towel to drain away excess water before placing in the refrigerator.  Store in an air tight container, plastic bags are not recommended since condensation may pool at the bottom.  You’ll be amazed at the shelf life of your fresh grown food, typically lasting at least 10-14 days, and giving you ample time to start your next crop. 

 

Wash and scrub your grow container between plantings.  If you’ve experienced any mold or fungus during your crop, or if you’re using an organic soil with additives, you can also dip your container into a two percent bleach solution and allow it to air dry. 

 

Troubleshooting & Tips

 

Planting Too Thick – If you sow your seeds too thickly the micro greens will come in too dense and be susceptible to mold or rot.  Evenly spread them out, and avoid clumping.   

 

Planting Too Thin –This will make for a somewhat “stringy” crop and small harvest, but won’t cause any trouble.

 

Not Enough Light – This also causes “leggy” or long stems, but doesn’t affect the flavor or nutrient value of your plants.

   

Over Watering – Microgreens will thrive if the roots get the right mix of water and oxygen.  Over-watering causes the root to not get enough oxygen and makes the crop suscep­tible to root diseases, and can even result in the loss of a tray.  Monitor the soil color and feel to dial in your growing environment.   

Under Watering – Watch carefully for any signs of wilting. If the delicate plants have dried out, immediate watering will typically bring them back – they are resilient! 

 

Re-cutting – Once harvested, most micro greens will not re-grow.  The exceptions are plants like sweet pea and nasturtium.

 

Multiple Crop Trays – There is no problem in sowing multiple crops in the same tray, as long as the germination and harvest times are fairly similar.  Consult our website for details, and don’t be afraid to experiment once you get the hang of urban farming.

 

Temperature – Cold may slow down the growth rates of your greens.  A nice warm spot will speed things up.  As a general rule, microgreens will grow in a temperature range between 45-90 degrees though. 

Root radicals aka not mold.  Sign of a healthy sprout.

Ready to expose to light. Usually 3-5 days for most micros and dependent on grow environment temperature.

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