Growing microgreens is a great way to keep the gardening hobby alive during the winter months. I love having access to fresh greens throughout the year. They’re great for everything from tacos to salads, and they are very easy to grow indoors at home.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are the young, edible seedlings of various vegetables and herbs. Harvested right after the cotyledons are expanded and the true leaves have emerged, they’re packed with nutrients and flavor.
Typically, microgreens are harvested when they reach 1-3 inches in height. It is common for people to confuse microgreens with sprouts. Technically, microgreens are the stage of growth after sprouts but before baby greens. They are more flavorful than sprouts and also pack in more nutrition.
I love to use them on salads and sandwiches, but they also work well in tacos, burritos, or as a garnish on stir-fry and omelets.
What you need to grow microgreens
If you have experience starting seeds indoors for your veggie garden, you will have no problem growing microgreens at home. They are also very beginner friendly. So, if you don’t have an established green thumb, you’ll still find the process fun and rewarding.
So, what do you need to start growing microgreens at home?
- Growing medium – I have experimented using both soil and non-soil mediums for growing microgreens. Without a doubt, soil produces the best results. I use ProMix soil for microgreens, but you can use any peat-based soil you’d like. Black gold is also a good option.
- Nutrients – It is not required to add nutrients or fertilizer when growing microgreens. Each seed has enough nutrients to grow to the point of harvest. However, you will see more uniform results in the color and size of your microgreens, as well as the yield by using nutrients. I use a balanced fertilizer like this one mixed into the soil before planting.
- Spray bottle – A spray bottle filled with water makes it easy to mist your microgreens. Be sure to change the water out on a regular basis so it does not become musty.
- Grow trays – You do not need fancy trays or large trays to grow microgreens at home. You can use something as simple as a leftover takeout container with small holes drilled into the bottom. I use purpose-built microgreen trays like these and find them very easy to use. You’ll want one tray with holes in it and another without holes for bottom watering.
- Grow lights (or direct sunlight) – We use this grow light indoors to grow our microgreens. But, a good South-facing window will also work.
- A teaspoon – You can eyeball your seeds when sowing them, or measure them with a teaspoon to ensure even distribution.
What kind of microgreens should you grow?
There are many options to choose from when growing microgreens at home. Some microgreens are easier to grow, and they all have different flavors (and colors).
I suggest trying out a few different varieties to see what you like best. True Leaf Market has a great selection of seeds. Here are some good options:
- Radish – Easy to grow and very dense. Tastes great on salads or sprinkled into soups. Has a spicy/hot radish flavor. This is an excellent microgreen if you are new to growing.
- Salad kits – You can also buy “salad kits,” which is a mix of many different seeds. However, this may not be the best place to start if you are a beginner. All microgreens grow a bit differently and have varied tastes. Salad kits make it difficult to distinguish your favorite type, but offer a great variety of nutrients and flavors.
- Sunflower – One of the most popular microgreens to grow because on their flavor. These seeds require weight to grow strong and drop their seed coat when they germinate.
- Broccoli – A popular microgreen that is easy to grow and very flavorful.
- Mustard – Bold flavors that make a great addition to salads.
How to grow microgreens at home
Now that you have the supplies needed, you’re ready to grow your own microgreens at home.
Step 1: Prepare your soil by adding water to pre-moisten it, along with fertilizer (if using) in a large container. Keep in mind that some soils already have nutrients added in.
Step 2: Once the soil is ready, add the soil to your microgreens tray of choice. If you are using two trays (one with holes and one without), add the soil to the tray with holes. Flatten the soil so it is even, but do not compress it too firmly.
Step 3: Sprinkle your seeds evenly on top of the soil. Every seed is different, and the amount you use will depend on the variety. Check the seed packet for instructions, but be sure the seeds are not overcrowded or sown too thickly. At the same time, you don’t want them to be too sparse. Use a spray bottle with water to generously spray the seeds and moisten the top inch of soil.
Step 4: Stack your trays or apply weight. Depending on the type of tray you are using, you can stack your trays and apply one weight on top, or you can apply weights to each individual tray. Since we don’t bury the seeds, adding weight ensures the seeds have good soil contact, mimicking being buried underground.
Step 5: For the next 2-3 days, gently lift the trays and give a good spritz of water. You are not exposing the greens to their light source yet. You are simply keeping them moist so they can successfully germinate.
Step 6: On days 3-4, you can remove the weights and expose the greens to light. They will look a bit funny and yellow at first, but will green up in no time. At this time, it is important to provide good airflow in your growing space. I like to use a small clip-on fan to circulate the air.
Step 7: At this point, allow the greens to grow and keeping a close eye on the soil moisture. Use the tray without holes to bottom-water the greens (add water underneath and allow the soil to soak it up through the tray’s holes). Over the next week, your greens will become much greener, taller, and stronger. After you see the first true leaves emerge, they are ready to harvest.
Watch the process (video):
When to harvest microgreens
At first, it can be tricky determining when to harvest your microgreens. It depends on what varieties you are growing, as well as the growing conditions. Most microgreens are done growing and ready for harvest in less than 14 days from planting.
After the first set of true leaves appear, your greens are ready to harvest. After you see the cotyledons appear, wait a bit longer for the first set of leaves. Typically, they will be 2-3 inches tall at this point. Hold off on watering your microgreens before harvesting so they are nice and dry when it is time to cut.
Using weights on microgreens
Using weights on your microgreens helps simulate the seeds germinating in the ground. The weight helps to strengthen the greens as they search for light and push up against the weight. As a result, a stronger root system develops.
The best way to accomplish this is to nest an empty tray on top of your planted seeds. Then, fill the empty tray with something heavy such as a rock, bricks/pavers, or even a book to apply pressure on the seeds below.
Note: The weight should be removed about 3-4 days after planting, once the seeds have all germinated and begin pushing up against the weight.
How to harvest and store microgreens
When it’s time to harvest your microgreens, use a sharp and clean knife and slice them at the base of the root. If you plan on storing your microgreens for a few days, hold off on washing them. You’ll want to store them in a dry/air-tight container and wash them just before eating.
I hope this guide helped you learn how to grow microgreens at home! Let us know in the comments what greens you like to grow and any tips and tricks you may have learned along the way.