Microgreens are healthful, easy to grow, and cheap. Moreover, these plants complement well as toppings for many recipes, from fried to boiled dishes.
Some people come up with the idea of cultivating the plants at home to ensure freshness. In this post, let’s discuss deeply on how to grow microgreens at home.
Why Should You Grow Microgreens At Home?
As mentioned above, you should raise microgreens at home to improve their quality. However, the positive influences that you can receive from growing microgreens are more than that.
The first reason to raise plants in your house is because it has a quick turnaround. When doing it at home, you can control the growing pace, the nutrition, and the nourishing speed. Therefore, no matter whether the crops are successful or not, you can immediately adjust the process, continue or restart the growing.
Compared to microgreens bought in supermarkets, home-based microgreens are fresher, healthier, and cheaper. Meanwhile, the cost for fruits and plants bought in supermarkets is always twice higher than the actual cost because of tax.
Besides, there are no fertilizers and nutrient deficiency drugs in your DIY greens, but for food at the market, it’s impossible to ensure their freshness and harmlessness.
Additionally, during this Coronavirus Outburst, more and more people are forced to stay home than ever. Growing plants is a mindful custom that they can develop through these days. The habit of raising greens not only improves emotional health but also establishes a fresher living space.
When we mention “at home,” we would like to refer to growing plants inside the house, not outdoors. The most amazing advantage of self-gardening is that you can control the environment without climate restrictions.
In some cases, people may wonder “Do I need a license to grow microgreens?”. We want to clarify that you don’t need a license to plant greens for private use. Suppose you want to sell your home-made plants for public consumption, then it’s a must to have a certificate.
Finally, when seeing a DIY microgreens garden every day, you will be inspired to live healthier.
What Are The Easiest Microgreens To Grow?
There are variants of microgreens for you to choose from. Even though its name is “micro,” microgreens consist of many large to medium-sized microgreens that can grow at home.
For instance, the adzuki seeds from Japan are famous for their nutty and sweet flavor. Its texture is soft and delicate, making it appropriate for topping in soups, rice, and noodles dishes.
Besides, the barley seeds provide the mildly grassy and earthy taste that suits best when cooking with mushroom, vegetable soups, or serve it alone.
Do you intend to make kale microgreens smoothies as a weekend detox drink? The beet green or collard greens are great choices then. They share the earthy, herb-alike, pungent aroma and kale-like taste.
Suppose you love making spicy dishes and want to grow microgreens as spice toppings; we advise you to select the dill, endive, and lentils. Those plants contain a bitter and sharp flavor that fits as spice alternatives. They also have herb-alike fragrance.
In case you don’t have much space for gardening, it’s better to grow medium-sized plants. What makes these plants differ from their bigger ones is that the medium has a higher planting density.
Basil is a lightly-smell and spicy-flavor microgreen that most people prefer growing at home. The arugula provides a peppery and sharply bitter taste to add-in.
If your family doesn’t prefer the sharply, dramatically spicy plants, then we recommend choosing the broccoli with a crunchy texture. Suppose you want to grow plants to season the soups and rice, then pak choi is better.
Therefore, there are no “best microgreens to grow” or “best tasting microgreens”. You must find which features you prefer in greens and select the ones that contain these characters.
How To Grow Microgreens At Home
As mentioned above, there is no exact confirmation on which seeds you should choose to plant. It all depends on your own needs, conditions, and wills.
However, no matter what plants you choose to grow, there are a few ingredients and tools that you should have to be able to grow microgreens at home, such as growing medium, soil, a shovel, containers or trays, water, fertilizer, and a spray bottle.
First, let’s discuss growing trays or containers. This is a place to put soil-growing medium mixture, and later, sprouts. It’s better to buy a tray with built-in holes, but if yours doesn’t have one, it’s acceptable. You can carve holes by yourself.
There are some arguments on using the words microgreens vs sprouts in text because some people think microgreens grow in soil while sprouts flourish in water. However, most people still accept using microgreens and sprouts interchangeably. So, in this post, we will refer to sprouts as microgreens.
The second component to mention is growing medium and soil, the most important factors to help the greens raise healthily. Without nutrition from medium and soil, the trees will die or grow up sagging.
Thus, it’s a must to add nutrition supplements. To add-in, don’t forget to prepare a shovel to mix the soil.
After sowing the seeds, what you must do every day is flourishing the sprouts so that they can grow up strong. You may need a spray bottle then. Day by day, water the seeds once or twice, based on the specific period.
Choose A Proper Location
The first step to do is choose a proper planting location. Based on our experience, the microgreens grow best in a damp, not-so-sunny environment to avoid direct sunbeam.
Besides, the growing place must be moist enough, not so humid, and not so dry; otherwise, the plant won’t wilt.
Prepare Trays And Microgreen Seeds
After choosing a proper place to put the green, now it’s time to prepare for the seeds. As mentioned above, there is a broad list of seed types for you to select. Based on each plant, there may be different temperatures and moist endurance levels that you can check on the Internet for more information about your chosen plant.
When you already have the seed bag in hand, clear the planting area and ensure that the surface is protected from overflowing and misting while watering plants. We guess you don’t want to spend much time sweeping away the water every day, right?
One day before sowing the seeds, soak them in warm water overnight for about 6 – 12 hours. For tough seed coats seeds like mung bean or sunflowers, bath them for an even longer period.
In case you use a container to place the plants, do one more step: sanitize the container to make sure it is disinfected and dry enough. Then, please fill up the container with 1 inch of growing medium, pour soil on the top, and press it firmly.
Suppose you use a tray to plant greens, place a kitchen paper on the bottom first, then pour 1 inch of growing medium over.
Sow The Seeds
Typically, we will add one more 2-inches soil layer or soil-growing medium mixture to thicken the base. Therefore, the plant can grow up firmly and quickly.
After 6 – 12 hours of soaking, take out the seeds and distribute them evenly over the entire surface of the recently-added soil layer. Next, spray the growing medium over them to add more adhesion between the seeds and the soil.
We advise you to sow the seeds thickly: about a quarter teaspoon for a 4 x 4 inches punnet. When finishing your sowing job, push the seeds deep into the soil.
Regarding putting the soil and seeds, there are two ways to conduct: use your bare hands or use cardboard to press. Both ways are acceptable, but we think the best method is still using hands because you can directly feel whether you are overpressing the soil or not.
Cover The Seeds In The Soil
Consequently, coat the seeds with another soil layer. In fact, you can mix the soil with a growing medium and fertilizer to create a more “nutritive” mixture and use it as additional layers mentioned in our tutorial procedure.
To add-in, pressing seeds into the soil mixture creates a firm attachment between two ingredients, making it easier and more effective for the seeds to absorb nutrition and moist.
However, no matter which ingredients you use to make the new layer, remember to water it every day because the microgreens are quickly dehydrated. They are also fragile and delicate, so if you leave them to dry out, overheated environment in just a short period, the plant can be spoiled.
Suppose you are using a container to cultivate the microgreens, then using a lid or plastic wrap to reduce the evaporation process is also an effective method. This approach can be applied until the seeds become sprouts.
Flourish The Microgreens
Microgreens are considered super easy to plant because we only need to water them once a day, and the plants will grow up healthily without much caring. Yes, it’s a fact. However, if we pay extra care to the plant, it will grow faster and stronger than expected.
To be specific, if you put the greens near sunlight or in an open room, then you should mist the microgreens only once a day. For a closed environment, then it’s acceptable to water twice a day. It consumes three to five days for the seeds to sprout.
What should you do when the seeds turn sprouted? Then, remove the lids or covers (if you are using a container) so that the sprouts can receive more sunlight and fresh air. Move the tray to a sunnier place and let them sit out at least 4 hours a day.
Continue to water the greens twice a day until the plants show some green buds. Then, it’s time to harvest.
Harvest The Plant
Repeat the previous cycle for 3 to 4 weeks. Then, when the first leaves appear, prepare to cultivate. We advise you to use sanitized scissors to cut these delicate greens so that no bacteria or microorganisms remain on the plants, causing spoilage.
Let us guide you on how to make sterilized scissors. First, wash the object carefully under tap water. Next, take out a piece of cotton buds and an alcohol bottle. Dip the buds into alcohol, or spray it on the buds, then wipe along with the scissors. Your sanitized scissors are ready to use.
It would help if you harvested the microgreens right after the first leaves period. In the meantime, the stems are still “green,” fresh, and strong. However, when the second set of leaves appear, the stems turn more and more fibrous.
You may wonder “Do microgreens regrow after cutting?” – The answer is: Maybe. Most of the time, microgreens won’t regrow. But it’s likely to happen if there is at least a healthy leaf or seed remaining.
When cutting the plant, just slash it above the soil line. Try not to snip off the roots completely so that you can regrow the greens later.
Microgreen Growing Tips From DIY Experts
The most common problem of growing microgreens in specific and plants, in general, is fungus. For mass production, the farmers will get rid of this issue by using pesticides.
Still, because you have chosen the organic, “clean” harvesting, so it’s a must to think of how to avoid fungus and kill the bacteria as much as possible without using insecticides.
Let us provide you some suggestions on how to avoid fungus at home. Based on our experience, planting trays with drainage holes so that the water can release better. Using fans to increase air circulation is also a good idea.
To add-in, when harvesting, always cut the greens over its soil line so as to avoid rinsing. Why do you have to “escape” that stage? Suppose you cut the plants below its soil line, then you must wash it carefully under tap water later, which will shorten the greens’ shelf life.
Finally, if you have already cut the plants but still have no intention to use them, apply this method to lengthen their longevity: prepare a shallow container of water, dip the stems of the microgreens, and put the container into the fridge for later use.
Through this post, we have learned how to grow microgreens at home. The technique mentioned above just bases on our experience, not the idealist method, so please feel free to reach out for more approaches and find your most suitable way.
Microgreens are delicate and easy to be damaged, so it’s a must to pay extra attention to not scratch them. Good luck with your gardening experience!