How to Grow Microgreens Indoors: A Guide for Beginners

Chris Thompson Chris Thompson  |  Updated: October 21, 2021
How to Grow Microgreens Indoors: A Guide for Beginners

From its high nutrients to aromatic flavors, microgreens deliver plenty of benefits. They enhance taste and improve texture in different foods, including salad, pasta, pizza, stir fry, wrap, and soup, among others.

Growing microgreens at home is quick and easy! It only takes a few days before you can harvest and use them as you desire. Best of all, you don’t have to be a gardening expert! Anyone can succeed with the right knowledge.

Curious about how to grow microgreens indoors? Read on, and I will share some of the things to do. Within a few days, you are ready to harvest and sample the delicious greens you have grown yourself.

Why You Should Grow Microgreens Indoors

If you are not yet convinced that you should grow microgreens indoors, below are some of the benefits that might make you change your mind:

  • It Is Easy: The best thing is that it does not require extensive knowledge and experience. Even if you are not a gardening expert, growing microgreens can be effortless. Do a quick online research and it won’t take long before you can harvest.
  • It Is Nutrient-Dense: Microgreens pack plenty of health benefits. They are small but have great nutritional value. Depending on the specific microgreen, they are rich in concentrated vitamins and minerals that are good for the body.
  • It Is Affordable: If you buy microgreens in a grocery store or order from a restaurant, they can be expensive. Nonetheless, you can buy seeds and grow them yourself. This way, it won’t cost you a lot.
  • It Is a Controlled Environment: By growing your microgreens indoors, you will benefit from having a controlled environment. From the light to the temperature, it is easy to control everything, making sure that they are ideal for growth.
  • It Does Not Require Generous Space: If you live in a tiny apartment or a city, you will not have the luxury of space to have a garden. Good thing, growing microgreens won’t require a big place.
  • It is Satisfying: You will feel good when you see your microgreens transforming into life. As days pass by, you will feel contentment as your efforts are rewarded. This can be a hobby that will make you happy.

What You Will Need

Below are some of the things that you will need when growing microgreens indoors:

  • Seeds
  • Pot or container
  • Soil or potting mix
  • Water
  • Spray bottle or water can
  • Plastic cover
  • Shovel
  • Supplemental lighting

A Step-by-Step Guide on How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

Ready to try your hand in growing microgreens? Here’s a quick guide on how you can do it like a pro.

  • Start with the Right Seeds

One of the most important is your choice of seeds. Do not just grow anything. Think about something that you like or the dish that you cook often. From here, you can limit your list of what microgreens to grow.

Make sure to soak the seeds at least eight hours before you plant them. Most will have instructions in the packet, so follow them religiously.

  • Pick the Right Soil

Choosing the right soil is one of the secrets to the successful planting of microgreens. The composition of the soil you will use will greatly impact the overall quality of the harvest. The better the soil, the better the microgreens will be.

It is best to buy a readily available potting mix. This way, it already has a complete combination of everything you will need. An important consideration is its nutrient mix. Look for organic matter beneficial for the growth of microgreens.

Water retention is another crucial factor in choosing the soil. The soil must stay moist but not soggy. Additionally, it should also be airy. By improving the soil aeration, you are giving microgreens room to breathe and grow.

  • Add Soil to a Pot or Container

With your soil ready, it is now time to put them in a pot or container. Fill it with around one inch of soil or potting mix. Sprinkle water on the soil and flatten it. Use cardboard or shovel to flatten the moist soil.

You can use any pot or container, but one of the most important is the design of the bottom. It is a must to have holes. This is where water will drain. Without holes, the water can turn soggy, which is bad for the growth of microgreens.

  • Sprinkle the Seeds

With the soil ready, scatter the seeds of the microgreens evenly on the top. There should be at least ¼ inch of space between the seeds. Cramping them into a small space will restrict their growth.

Add potting soil on the top of the seeds. You can use the same potting mix as what you have earlier put on the pot. Alternatively, you might also want to consider using vermiculite. The latter is a mineral-based material that slowly absorbs and releases water. It will keep the soil and seeds damp but not soggy.

  • Water the Soil

After sprinkling the seeds and topping them with vermiculite or potting mix, give it a light shower. You can use a water can, spray bottle, or a hose sprayer with an option for mist. Your goal is to make the surface moist but not drowning in water.

Another good technique is to water from the bottom. To do this, fill a larger container with water. Lift the pot and put it in the water. Take it off once the soil on the top starts getting damp. Wait for the water to fully drain.

  • Cover the Container with Plastic

After sowing the seeds and watering the soil, now is the time to add a clear plastic on the top pot or container. A lightweight plastic will increase humidity and enhance germination, making it crucial for the growth of your microgreens.

  • Provide Adequate Lighting

One of the biggest challenges when growing microgreens indoors is the lack of sunlight. Like other vegetables, it requires proper lighting to germinate. With this, to increase the chances of success, consider adding supplemental lighting to your set-up.

You can choose from different lights, with LED being one of the most popular. It often comes in a strip, so you can choose a length that matches the size of the container. They are lightweight and easy to use, with many not requiring complicated wiring. They also last a long time and are energy-efficient.

Aside from LEDs, another common option is a metal vapor light. It ionizes gas mixtures to form an electric arc. It has various metals that result in intense colors. It is extremely powerful and has great spectral wavelengths, making it a common pick amongst commercial growers.

Tips and Tricks for Growing Microgreens Indoors

Now that you know the steps for growing microgreens, below are some tips that can increase the chances of a bountiful harvest.

Add a Heat Mat

A heat mat may not be a necessity, but it is nice to have in the set-up for growing microgreens. It is exactly what the name implies – a mat that generates heat. It is placed on the bottom of the pot.

Depending on the specific microgreen that you will plant, they have different preferences when it comes to germination conditions. Because the seeds do not have enough warmth from the sun, you can supplement their temperature needs by having the right mat.

Along with the right lighting, a heat mat is most vital during the winter. Such will help in increasing the temperature, making the environment more tolerable. Take note, microgreens are fragile, so they won’t survive when it is extremely hot or cold.

Water Regularly

Microgreens are small plants, and hence, they also need regular watering. Such, however, can be tricky. A lot may end up overwatering, which will make the soil soggy.

While tap water may be sufficient at most times, it is best if you test its quality, especially the pH. Use a pH meter. The water should be around 5.5 to 7. If it is too acidic, adding a bit of baking soda can help. Nonetheless, it needs to be more acidic, considering squeezing a lemon.

The water should not be too cold or too hot. Ideally, the temperature should be anywhere from 5-0 to 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

When watering your microgreens, the best approach is to sprinkle. Do not pour the water directly as it can saturate the soil. It helps to have a spray bottle.

The frequency of watering is another crucial consideration. Do it too often and the soil will end up soggy. Nonetheless, if you do not water regularly, the soil will dry out and the microgreens will dry.

The best thing to do is to monitor the soil. It should be moist but not soggy. When it is dry, it is time to water.

Fertilize when Necessary

You do not need fertilizers when growing microgreens. Most of them will do just fine. However, if you want to speed up their growth, fertilizing can help, as long as you do it right. Most people who add fertilizers are those who grow in soilless mediums, such as hydroponics.

If you choose to use fertilizers, use one with natural trace products. A good example of this is a fertilizer with a fine powder from volcanic ash. It has rare earth elements that improve the growth of microgreens.

Harvest at the Right Time

A lot of people who grow microgreens indoors commit mistakes when it comes to harvesting. Some might do it too early while others are too late. Timing is crucial.

There are two main stages when you can harvest your microgreens. The first is during the appearance of the first leaf, which is known as the cotyledon. The second is when they have true leaves, which means that they are mature enough. In most cases, such will happen within two weeks after planting.

The right time of the day is also important when you harvest microgreens. It is best to do it early in the morning or at night. Use a pair of clean scissors and cut at least an inch above the soil. Wash and dry the microgreens upon harvesting. Most importantly, pay attention to proper handling and storage until they are ready for consumption.

FAQs

Is it better to grow microgreens in soil or water?

It is better to grow microgreens in soil than in water. It will make things a lot easier, especially taking care of them. If you grow the microgreens in water, you will need to set up a hydroponic system. This can be expensive and complicated to assemble, especially for a newbie.

Do microgreens need direct sunlight?

Yes, microgreens need direct sunlight. Ideally, they will benefit from exposure to the sun for four to six hours a day. Nonetheless, if you are growing them indoors, it is unnecessary to have sunlight. Instead, you can recreate the outdoor environment by adding LED grow light to supplement the needs of the plant.

Can I use potting soil for microgreens?

Yes, you can use potting soil for growing microgreens. The secret is to choose one that has the right mix of nutrients that the plant will need. Aeration and water retention are also vital considerations.

What are the best microgreens to grow indoors?

Some of the best microgreens that you can grow indoors are radish, broccoli, cabbage, arugula, kale, watercress, beetroot, cabbage, lettuce, basil, broccoli, and radish. Check out our list of the best microgreens to grow at home.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to grow microgreens indoors, it’s time to try it at home. This is a good idea for those who live in small apartments or those who do not have the space for an outdoor garden. As noted above, it starts with your choice of seeds and soil or potting mix. After preparing the soil and seed, water, cover, and add supplemental lighting if necessary.

Without sunlight, growing indoors can be challenging. To increase the chances of success, one of the best things to do is to add a heat mat, which will speed up germination. Regular watering is also necessary, making sure that the soil is moist but not soggy.

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