How to Grow Microgreens at Home
Microgreens are easy to grow and produce a tasty harvest quickly
Microgreens pack a flavorful and nutritional punch to food. There are plenty of benefits to growing microgreens. You don't need much space to grow microgreens indoors and in doing so, you can harvest microgreens year-round no matter what climate you live in. It's also easy to grow microgreens, indoors or outdoors. They grow well in garden beds or containers and they provide you with a quick harvest.
Microgreens may look like cute plants, but before you begin, consider the cons of growing them. They need daily attention and they can only be harvested once so you'll need to constantly replace the plants.
What Are Microgreens?
Microgreens are simply the seedlings of edible greens, including vegetables and herbs, harvested when they are very young—approximately an inch or two tall.
Why Grow Your Own Microgreens?
Growing microgreens is a great gardening project for beginners and it's fun to watch them peek up from the soil. Kids will enjoy helping and watching them grow, too. While you can find these tasty morsels in the grocery store or markets, they can be expensive to buy and these packaged greens don't last very long in the fridge. Microgreens are easy to grow and take up a little space, such as a window sill. You snip off what you want to use and enjoy it fresh right from your own garden.
What Can You Grow as a Microgreen?
You can grow any salad green or herb as a microgreen. It's easy to start with pre-packaged seed mixes including specific microgreen mixes.
Here are a few popular varieties to grow as microgreens:
- Beet greens
- Radish greens
- Lettuce (any)
Before Getting Started
Begin by deciding what you want to plant for microgreens. Select one or two types of seeds when you are first starting out. Good choices include broccoli, lettuce, radish, cauliflower, spinach, basil, or cilantro. Next, select the area and containers you will plant them in. Choose a nice sunny spot. Then determine the growing medium you want to use. An even mixture of potting soil and peat moss helps hold moisture in the soil, or a seed starting mix also works well.
What You'll Need
Equipment / Tools
- Planting tray or small pots, or garden bed
- Small trowel or garden rake
- Sharp knife or scissors
- Growing medium (potting soil/peat moss/seed starting mix)
Microgreens are very easy to grow. You can grow them in the ground, in a raised garden bed, in a container outdoors, or inside on a sunny windowsill.
Planting Microgreens in a Raised Garden Bed
Prepare the Garden Bed
Prepare the garden bed with your choice of growing medium. This can include a seed starting mix, potting soil, or a mix of potting soil and peat moss. Make sure to leave room to put a thin layer of soil on top after planting the seeds. Loosen the soil and rake it smooth.
Scatter Seed Mix
Scatter your seed mix on the soil so that the seeds are about 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch apart. Remember, you'll harvest them very young, so they don't need a lot of room.
Cover Seeds and Water
Once the seeds are scattered over the area, cover them with about 1/8 inch of soil. Water with a spray bottle or mister to evenly moisten the soil.
Planting Microgreens in a Container
Select and Prepare Container
Choose a pot that is at least 2 inches deep and as large in diameter as you want. Fill it with a good quality organic potting mix, and smooth the soil.
Scatter the seeds so that they are about 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart, and cover with 1/8 inch of soil.
Water and Move Container
Water with a spray bottle or mister to moisten the soil, and place your container in a spot where it will get at least four hours of sunlight. For indoor growth, a south-facing window is best, but an east- or west-facing one will do as well.
Care and Maintenance
Don't let the soil dry out. Mist daily, keeping the soil moist but not wet. You should see sprouts pop up in about three to seven days. If you have rich soil in your garden bed, you won't need to fertilize. For containers, mixing in a bit of granular fertilizer before you plant is recommended if your potting mix doesn't already contain fertilizer.
Microgreens grow for such a short period they are rarely bothered by pests and diseases. However, if you are growing brassicas in your mix (mustard, kale, etc.), and cabbage worms are a problem, consider adding a floating row cover to protect them.
The first leaves you'll see are seed leaves. They don't look like the true leaves of the plant. The best time to harvest microgreens is when they've developed the first set of true leaves, about 10 days to two weeks after planting. To harvest, snip the microgreens just above the soil level.
You won't get additional harvests from one planting of microgreens. Because the plants haven't had much time to develop—and you're snipping off everything except the very bottom of the stem—they have no way to generate new growth.
The good news is you can plant another crop after harvesting by simply scattering fresh seeds and covering them with soil. You don't even need to remove the old roots; they are good sources of organic matter.
Is it worth it to grow your own microgreens?
Growing microgreens takes work and maintenance, but if you're looking for a nutritional boost and don't want to pay exorbitant prices for microgreens at the grocery store, it can be worth growing your own.
Do you eat microgreens raw?
To get the most nutritional benefits, eat microgreens raw. Cooking microgreens reduces their bitter taste but also reduces vitamin content.
What is the difference between sprouts and microgreens?
They may look similar, but sprouts and microgreens are different plants. Sprouts grow quickly in water, don't need light, and are meant to be entirely eaten. Microgreens take slightly longer to grow, they need light, and only the leaves can be eaten, not the roots.
What happens if you don't cut microgreens?
Microgreen plants are planted in such densities that make it impossible for them to grow into mature plants if they are not cut. In other words, if you don't cut microgreens, the plant will die from extreme stress.