Growing microgreens is a fun and rewarding activity to spend your free time at home. Microgreens can be a great business opportunity as well.
There are several ways to grow microgreens. Normally, you can choose to use either soil or hydroponics system. The one that works best for Aaron from MicroVeggy is using soil.
He's sharing six simple steps to start growing microgreens for profit:
- Select your microgreens
- Choose the right medium and tools
- Plant the seeds evenly
- Water, water and more water
- Time to shine
- Cut and enjoy!
1. Select Your Microgreens
Start off by selecting your favourite microgreens. Though there are over 100 types of microgreens (making it hard to decide for your first time), Aaron suggests you use beginner-friendly microgreens like broccoli, sunflower, kale, arugula, and chickpea. (In fact, broccoli and chickpea are both in the top 5 anti-cancer microgreens!)
These beginner microgreens grow quickly, are easy to maintain, and are fairly low-maintenance. They take about 7–10 days to grow until ready to harvest. Once you're comfortable, challenge yourself with microgreens like chia and flaxseed!
You can purchase your microgreen seeds from a local farmer, gourmet grocery store, or on Amazon.
2. Choose the Right Medium and Tools
Select a Tray
You will need a 10″ x 20″ growing tray for your microgreens to rest on. You can get some from Amazon as well (like this one here). Some Amazon trays may not have holes in it; you will then have to punch a few holes yourself for draining the excess water to prevent flooding. Soggy soil and overwatering can cause problems like mold growing.
You can also use a Tupperware, take-out, or produce containers (with holes) to grow microgreens. For instance, you can use the strawberry plastic containers for this project.
Choose Your Soil
You can use either soil or hydroponics method to grow microgreens. Like many growers, Aaron uses the soil method, but you can create your own potting soil as well by mixing 4 part of peat moss, 1 part of sand, and 1 part of perlite.
Make a Shaker
To sprinkle your seeds evenly onto the soil, you can make yourself a simple seed shaker bottle. Simply poke a few holes on the cap of an empty bottle. Done!
4. Plant Your Seeds Evenly
Pre-soak the Seed
You might have heard that pre-soaking seeds for 6–12 hours will give a better germination rate. Yes, that's true! Depending on your seed quality, some seeds are already having a high germination rate (1–2 days) which means you don’t even need to soak them beforehand. Still, pre-soaking the seeds can be very helpful to achieve a quicker germination and consistent growth for later.
While soaking the seeds, you can sanitize them by adding a few drops of food-grade 3% hydrogen peroxide into the water. This can be effective in reducing mold problems. Therefore, your microgreens are safer to eat raw.
Fill the Tray
- Add soil into the container and make sure it is ~1 inch to the brim. This will ensure a smoother harvest later for the shorter microgreens.
- Fill the shaker bottle with 1 oz of seeds and sprinkle them evenly onto the soil. The volume of seeds depends on their size and weight. (Because we are looking for a thicker growth, 1 or 2 oz is usually enough for most small-to-average seeds.)
- Blanket a thin layer of soil onto the naked seeds and stack with another tray on top to weight/press down the soil for 1-3 days during the blackout period. This helps to get rid of the seed hulls problems when harvesting microgreens such as the sunflower.
Be Mindful of Lighting
The blackout period is essential for the long and healthy looking microgreens. Otherwise, you will end up with a bunch of thicker, shorter and fibrous microgreens, which will affect the taste as well.
That’s why lighting is so important to microgreens. Aaron explains and compares the efficiency of CFLs/LED/Incandescent bulbs here.
In the dark, microgreens will seek out for light naturally using the starch storage in the endosperm. Ideally, they should be kept for about 3-5 days before exposing them to the light.
4. Water, Water and More Water
Water your microgreens twice daily to keep the soil moist. Don’t worry about overwatering them as the vessels should have holes to drain out the excess water (place a tray underneath to collect the runoff). Soggy or flooded soil is one of the seven reasons microgreens may fall over.
If you notice some mold-like fuzzy hairs on the soil level, these are root hairs. which help the seedlings to increase surface area for more water.
In other words, they need more water!
New microgreens popping out of the soil!
A couple of days later; can you spot the root hair?
These yellow ones were kept in the dark for a few days.
5. Time to Shine
After keeping them dark for days, it is time to enjoy the long-awaited shining moment.
The T8 fluorescent light tubes get the job done well. Because direct sunlight is too strong for them, you should place them under the shaded corner, such as next to a windowsill.
At this point, your microgreens should be looking just like Aaron's did above (yellowish and leggy), and that’s completely normal. Once exposing them to light, the photosynthesis (via chlorophyll) will soon take place and start turning them into the beautiful greenish microgreens the following day.
As the microgreens grow bigger, taller and thicker, they will need more even more water than before:
These are after the last day in the dark.
Another set of microgreens (amaranth).
6. Cut and Enjoy!
After about 7–10 days, your microgreens are ready to harvest. The harvesting process is fairly simple: get yourself a sharp knife or scissors, and cut your microgreens very gently above the soil level.
Whether you grow microgreens using the growing pads or soil, it’s extremely important not to eat or sell them without washing first.
That's it! Your microgreens are ready to be enjoyed.
Sell your microgreens online!
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