With so many different options, and an increasing number of kits out there to chose from, its easy to get overwhelmed with the idea of growing microgreens before you even get started. We’re here to help explain the basics, and provide you with the key information you need to successfully grow microgreens at home. By the end of this article, you’ll know exactly what’s required and be ready to start growing and enjoying your own microgreens immediately. Plus, if you’re interested in learning more about the benefits of microgreens and different ways to use them, be sure to check out our separate blogs on these topics below.
How To Grow Microgreens
As the saying goes life finds a way and, true to that, microgreens grow well in many types of setups. Some methods are faster, some are cleaner, some are cheaper, but all offer ‘correct’ solutions to growing happy microgreens. What you’ll find in common is that they
1) have something for the roots to grow into
2) some way of keeping the seeds moist until they sprout.
Our own journey into the world of microgreens started by reviewing all of the most popular techniques.
Growing Microgreens in Soil
Planting the seeds in soil, compost, or coco coir this is one of the most commonly recommended ways to grow microgreens. As the soil covers the seeds completely, they don’t typically need a lid to trap in humidity for germination. Another benefit is that many people already have soil on hand and can upcycle a container they already have – so it’s a low investment way to get started. When we tried it out, we noticed a couple of drawbacks though.
- First, using dirt was… well, dirty. There was a lot of handwashing and cleaning during setup and after harvesting.
- Secondly it also required a fair bit of work. Taking care of it was also a little bit of a hassle as we had to water it everyday.
Growing Microgreens with a grow Mat
Another common method for growing microgreens involves using grow mats. These are much less messy than soil. Mats are soaked in water, placed in either a shallow tray or on a screen above a water reservoir, and a lid is typically put on top to help with germination, as the seeds are exposed to air on the top.
There are lots of material options ranging from paper to coconut fiber to hemp. After trying them all out, we found a pretty big range in performance – some totally disintegrated after a couple days, some stunk up the water and became pretty gross, and some options we ruled out because of either cost or environmental reasons.
The best material we found for use as a microgreens grow mat was jute – a natural fibre derived from plants. Jute is economical, fully biodegradable, and renewable. This is the material we include in the Urban Leaf microgreens kit.
… but some also worked really well. If used in a shallow grow tray, they still need to be watered daily, but if used in tandem with a reservoir then we were able to only water once.
Microgreens Kit options
Finally, there are some kits out there where the structure, mat, seeds, and germination cover are all sandwiched together into one part. This made for an easy setup, and as the kit also had a reservoir, we only needed to water once. It did come with some downsides however; the refills were expensive and we felt like we were generating a lot of waste at the end of each grow, as the parts that are normally reusable (i.e. germination dome & support structure) were part of the disposable mat.
Can you grow microgreens without soil?
Yes! In fact, our favorite systems from our early testing were hydroponic (meaning grown without soil). As microgreens are harvested when they are very young, they don’t require the nutrients that soil normally provides, and are happy in a grow mat and pure water. Our kits use a patent pending hydroponic system that combines wicking (to help the seeds get to the sprout stange) and kratky hydroponics (to support the growth of the plant from sprout to microgreen). It’s got the benefits of more advanced systems – but all that is required for each grow is a biodegradable jute mat.
Want to learn more about Microgreens? Check out our other blogs on:
- What Exactly Are Microgreens Anyway?
- Different Types of Microgreens – Where To Start?
- Benefits of MicroGreens: It’s Not The Size That Counts
- How to Use Microgreens In Your Salads, Smoothies, Snacks and More
Or if you’re ready to hop right on and start your own mini microgreen garden, our beginner-friendly Microgreens Kit is now available for purchase.