Microgreens are a nutrient dense, easy-to-grow solution to your winter gardening blues. Learn how to grow your own microgreens in a few simple steps.
I recently discovered microgreens at the farmer's market and fell in love. They were packed with flavor, tender, and looked beautiful on my plate. I even found myself snacking on them right out of the bag.
Microgreens offer a quick turnaround with minimal investment for the gardener. Yes, I do have to buy more seeds, but I don't have to worry about taking up space in my garden. This makes microgreens a perfect solution for gardeners with very limited space. I also realized that I could grow microgreens year round, either in a windowsill or under lights, even when the temperatures were way below freezing outside.
Spring is still months away in many parts of the world. If you start going a little stir crazy for fresh greens this time of year, try your hand at growing microgreens.
Assemble Your Materials
You can grow microgreens in any clear flat with decent drainage. Salad mix containers from the grocery store work really well, as they come with drainage holes already cut and produce a decent crop of microgreens. I use whatever containers I have at hand. Both clear and opaque contains work, and some gardeners use seedling flats to get larger crops.
Keep your micro garden location in mind as you select your container. If you plan on growing in a windowsill, choose a container that fits in your windowsill. If you have grow lights, make sure your container is appropriately sized. You want your microgreens to have equal exposure to light.
Once you have your container and a drainage tray to go beneath it (any flat tray will do), choose your potting mix. I prefer to use a rich, organic potting mix full of compost and worm castings, but that is a personal preference. As long as your potting soil is well balanced and drains easily your microgreens should thrive.
You will also need seeds. I typically only grow arugula, but you can certainly grow a mix of greens. Look for mixes that germinate and sprout at about the same time, as it is important to have uniform growth for your harvest. Mesclun mixes work well or you can make your own mixes by combining your favorite greens. If you are concerned about germination times, grow your greens in separate containers and combine them after harvest.
Johnny's Seeds carries a selection of microgreen mixes that get great reviews, and I have also used mesclun mixes from other seed companies on the rare occasions I get tired of arugula.
Prepare Your Container
Once you have your materials assembled, preferably with some newspaper laid down if you are working on an indoor surface, prepare your container for production. Fill the container with 1 1/2-inches to 2-inches of moist potting soil. Smooth out the surface, either with a piece of cardboard or by gently agitating the container so that you have an even seed bed.
Add Your Seeds
Sprinkle your seeds over the surface of the soil. Since you are cutting your seedlings down early, normal spacing requirements don't apply. I try and sprinkle 10 seeds per inch. Press the seeds gently into the soil with a piece of cardboard. You can also use your hands, but I find that the seeds stick to my fingers and palms.
Cover And Water
Cover your seeds with a very fine layer of dry potting soil. If you have a sieve, feel free to use it to get a uniform sprinkle. I typically just use my fingers to lay down about a 1/8-inch of dry soil. Place your container on a drip tray and gently water the seeds in with a watering can or spray bottle. Drain any excess water out of the drip tray to keep your seeds from getting too wet.
Grow And Cut
Place your microgreens in a south-facing, sunny window or under grow lights. Keep them moist at all times and they should germinate in 3 to 7 days, depending on the seeds.
Harvest your microgreens once they get their first true leaves. This usually happens 7 to 14 days after germination, which means that for some varieties you could have a crop of microgreens in a week and a half. Snip the greens right above the soil line, gently rinse, and enjoy.
Once you taste your first homegrown microgreens, I promise you'll be hooked. Keep yourself in fresh produce by planting microgreen successions every seven days. You can tailor your successions based upon how many greens you eat and how long each batch lasts you. I could eat my entire harvest in one sitting, so I try to keep up on my plantings.
I reuse my soil two or three times before dumping it into the compost bin. So far I have not had any trouble, as long as my greens didn't develop "damping off" or another disease. If you want to reuse your soil, add a little bit of fertilizer or compost to rejuvenate the growing mix and plant your next batch. Keep in mind that if your greens start looking a little ragged, you might want to change out the soil completely.