Microgreens are an ideal crop for urban gardeners as they are easy to grow and do not require much space. You can learn how to grow them successfully with these.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are small, edible plants that are harvested just after the cotyledon leaves have developed. They are usually ready to harvest 7-14 days after planting(4-8 days after germination), and they can be grown in a variety of soil types and even hydroponically. Microgreens are much smaller than baby greens, typically measuring no more than one or two inches in height. They have a delicate texture and intense flavor, making them a popular choice for adding color, flavor, and nutrition to salads, sandwiches, and other dishes.
Choose the Right containers
- Wide containers with sufficient drainage are appropriate for cultivating microgreens.
- Plastic or resin materials may be preferred due to their lightweight nature and ease of mobility.
- Add soilless potting mix to the container, ensuring to leave some space from the rim.
- To grow micro greens indoors, fill a shallow tray or flat container with suitable soil for sowing the seeds.
- When planting in a garden, it is recommended to use bricks or stones to create a side-border that is high enough to contain the roots of the plants.
Make Your Own Soil
- Prepare a soil mixture for micro greens that can enhance the quality of your harvest. A recommended blend consists of equal parts perlite and sand, combined with three parts peat moss or coconut coir.
- The nutrients required for microgreens are stored in the seed, therefore, a light soil mix is sufficient for their growth.
- Fresh seed raising mix can be utilized for cultivating microgreens.
pH Level for Microgreens
For optimal growth, it is recommended to use a growing medium or water with a pH between 6 and 7.5 as most seeds thrive within this range and may not do well in highly acidic or alkaline conditions.
It is recommended to use untreated microgreens seeds and prioritize Non-GMO, organic, and heirloom seeds for better quality, as there are no specific types of microgreen seeds.
Microgreen Sowing Hacks
- To begin the growth process, use shallow trays that are at least 3-4 inches deep and fill them with seed starting mix. Distribute the seeds generously and do not worry about spacing.
- For optimal growth, relocate seedling trays to a location with indirect light conditions once sprouted.
- If growing indoors without access to natural light, it is recommended to keep plants by a window or beneath grow lights for 6-8 hours per day. Artificial light can also be used.
- In order to achieve maximum growth, it is necessary to receive either 3-5 hours of direct sunlight or at least 8 hours of bright indirect sunlight. This hastens the process of seed germination and eliminates the problem of poor seed germination.
- For those residing in warm climates, sufficient exposure to sunlight can be achieved through morning and daytime exposure.
- Certain types of microgreens have specific light requirements for optimal growth, which may require experimentation to determine.
Microgreen Growing Hacks
- It's important to make sure the pots you use are free from dirt and mold by cleaning them thoroughly.
- For each microgreen crop, it is recommended to use separate pots and to label them for easy identification of the young plants.
- Watering should be done from the bottom rather than from the top.
- In growing microgreens, fertilizer is typically unnecessary as the seeds contain adequate nutrients for growth.
- Certain types of microgreens, both fast-growing and slow-growing, may require additional fertilization as they deplete their natural nutrient supply during the growth process.
- When planting microgreens outside, it is recommended to either carefully mist the water or use a sprayer. Simply flooding the seeds with water causes problems like root rot and other diseases.
- It's important to note that watering needs vary among different crops, including microgreens.
- Microgreens grown in containers or microgreen trays need to be watered more often.
- It is recommended to maintain proper soil moisture levels by watering them adequately, without making the soil too wet.
- It is recommended to water plants twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon.
- Microgreens can be harvested at two different harvest times: when the cotyledons (first set of leaves) appear or when the seedlings have 3-4 true leaves and are over 2 inches tall.
- When harvesting, it is recommended to use a clean pair of scissors to gently snip off young leaves above the soil.
- Microgreens can be harvested with their roots and washed before consumption, as they can be eaten whole.
Challenges in growing Microgreens
Mold is a plant pathogen identified by white, threadlike strands mixed with growing roots and can emerge as a small group of hair before permeating the nearby soil. Primarily, high temperature and humidity are the main causes.
To prevent mold growth during planting, it is recommended to aerate the soil, remove windbreakers to improve air circulation, and ensure clean and dry trays before planting. Using fewer seeds, especially if they produce mucilage, can also be helpful. An organic tonic made from a mixture of water and grapefruit seed extract can serve as a deterrent for fungi.
2. Prolonged Germination Time
The germination process for microgreens typically ranges from 3 to 7 days. If a delay in germination is observed, it may be beneficial to increase the frequency of watering and conduct a germination test on the seeds.
3. Yellowish Microgreens
For optimal growth, position your microgreen trays close to a light source to encourage photosynthesis and maintain natural leaf color. Remove the blackout dome or the plastic wrap in a timely manner to prevent your seedlings from turning yellow.
4. Clustered Microgreens
When working with mucilaginous seeds, achieving a uniform spread can be challenging. Overcrowding can lead to competition among seeds and ultimately result in reduced harvest. To avoid this, it is recommended to spread the seeds evenly on the tray and use fewer seeds.
5. Poor Growth
There are various reasons why this can occur. Often, it is caused by inadequate moisture control or insufficient seed preparation. The following recommendations can be helpful in general.
- It is important to adhere to the instructions on the seed packets with care.
- For optimal growth of microgreens, it is recommended to remove the domes at staggered intervals.
- It is important to adhere to the recommended watering schedule.
In conclusion, harnessing the power of microgreens through effective growing hacks allows you to unlock a world of health benefits. These tiny plant babies, with their mature leaves and concentrated levels of vitamins, offer a simple yet potent way to enhance your overall well-being. By choosing high-quality microgreen seeds and implementing the growing hacks shared in this blog, you can cultivate a continuous supply of fresh and nutrient-rich greens right at home. Embrace the transformative potential of microgreens and embark on a journey towards a healthier life, one vibrant and flavorful microgreen at a time. Let these growing hacks be your guide as you nurture your own microgreen oasis and experience the joys of a thriving and sustainable microgreen garden.
Dr. Vandana K.