Microgreens are good in salads, wraps, and sandwiches or sautéed in a stir fry or hash. That would explain why they have become popular in restaurants and among food lovers alike. And, that’s not all, these tiny green vegetables come packed with nutrients such as vitamins and minerals that are good in fighting various diseases including diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease among others. It is such a benefit that so many people have been drawn to these superfoods.
The good thing is that microgreens are easy and cheap to grow at home. They also take a short duration from planting to harvesting, which is a plus for impatient gardeners. In addition, they don’t take a lot of space, so you don’t have to worry about having a huge space indoors. To top it up, microgreens can be grown all year round. This means that you can enjoy tasty meals throughout the year or a steady income if growing them for profits.
However, though they are easy to grow, you need to have some knowledge and guidance on growing them indoors if you are to see a bountiful harvest- especially if you are a first-time grower. Here is the ultimate guide to help you through the process.
The initial investment in growing your first batch of microgreens indoors will include the following:
You will require shallow trays of about an inch in depth. These come in different sizes, so it will depend on your preferred size. The quality of the trays also differs, but you are better off going for better quality for durability purposes. It is good to note that you will need two trays for each batch of microgreens. One tray should be perforated for draining purposes-this is the tray that will hold the soil and the seeds. The second tray should not have holes and its purpose is to hold the first tray.
Microgreens come in distinct flavors. Your choice of seeds should depend on your favorite microgreens if you are growing for your own consumption. Otherwise, you can go for the most common ones such as mesclun, beetroot, cress, arugula, radishes, broccoli, wheatgrass, kale, or sunflower among others.
For a healthy and strong harvest, you will need good quality soil.
Microgreens germinate better when they are covered as opposed to being left in the open air. Ensure that you have something to cover the trays after planting.
Your microgreens will require regular watering, so you need to have a water sprayer for this purpose.
The soil that you use for growing your microgreens depends on your preference. A good suggestion is one that is enriched with ingredients drawn from the ocean such as crab meal, kelp, and shrimp meal. You can also go for coconut coir or peat moss.
While it is not necessary that you mix the soil with some nutrients, doing so ensures that you harvest greener and stronger microgreens.
After mixing your potting soil, pour it into the perforated trays to cover about 0.75 inches of the tray. Ensure that you flatten the soil to remove any peaks and troughs. The last step in the soil preparation is to water the soil. It is essential to do so before placing the seeds in order to prevent seeds disbursement that can occur if you were to water after placing them.
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Unlike other plants that require you to be careful in measurements when planting, microgreens don’t need you to be. You just need to spread the seeds evenly on top of the soil. The number of seeds that you will spread in one tray will depend on the microgreen that you are planting. If the seeds are large, you will need to spread more as compared to smaller seeds. Smaller seeds can easily get overcrowded, that’s why you need to spread less.
After spreading the seeds, press them gently to ensure that they make contact with the soil. You can use a piece of wood to do this. Alternatively, you can cover the seeds lightly with a little soil on top. However, it is good to remember that the seeds can easily pop out since they are not dug in. It is good to apply some weight to the seeds until they germinate. A good way to do that is by stacking trays on top of each other and placing an empty tray on the one at the top.
As said earlier, microgreens germinate better when covered away from light. You can improvise a way to provide cover to your trays until they germinate. Stacking trays on top of each other mentioned above also helps in keeping light away in addition to ensuring thicker and stronger stems.
Better still, invest in an indoor grow tent to cover your trays. You can place your trays in the grow tent to keep them away from open-air during the germination period. Depending on the height of your tent, you can stack a few trays on top of each other for the purpose of providing weighted pressure.
The good thing about an indoor grow tent is that you can control the temperature and humidity to provide consistent growing conditions for your microgreens. This results in a more even, increased and faster germination as well as enhanced growth afterward.
Place the trays individually after germination so that the microgreens can get some light and continue with the growing process.
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The soil should remain moist throughout the growing process. Even when the seeds are covered before germination, you need to ensure that you uncover and gently water them.
After germination, ensure that you water your microgreens frequently. However, you need to be careful not to overwater them to prevent mold growth.
The plants also need 12-16 hours of light to thrive. You can place the trays near a window that lets in enough sunlight. If growing in an indoor growing tent, artificial grow lights also do the work perfectly.
In addition, ensure that the plants have enough airflow, which also prevents mold from growing.
Microgreens can be harvested within 7 and 25 days depending on the variety that you are growing, or the height that you prefer. You can use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the microgreens about an inch above the soil. You can also gently uproot them and remove the excess soil after that.
Ensure that you rinse your microgreens in water. Microgreens are best consumed when fresh for optimal nutrition, but you can store the excess for later use. Just cover the clean microgreens with paper towels and place them in a container before storing them.
Microgreens are exciting when enjoyed in salads, sandwiches, or garnishing your favorite meal. As seen above, growing them is equally exciting and a no-brainer. You don’t have to be a plant guru to have a bountiful harvest. Just follow the above guide and you will soon be smiling down on your harvesting. Happy planting!