Beet microgreens are often labeled as moderately difficult to grow. But their earthy flavor is well worth the trouble of growing them.
However, we haven’t found them hard to germinate or grow. Instead, we find preparing them to eat more difficult due to the many seed hulls that remain on the leaves.
But that’s another post.
In this article, we investigate the premise that soaking beet microgreen seeds before planting improves germination and decreases the time to harvest them.
- Beet Microgreens – Bull's Blood Beets
- What About Removing the Tough Seed Husks?
Beet Microgreens – Bull’s Blood Beets
If you do a Google search for soaking microgreen seed, growing beet microgreens, or a similar keyword search, all the top sites suggest soaking beet microgreen seeds between 6 and 24 hours before planting.
It seems to make sense. Soak the seeds and give germination a head start.
But does it?
To set the stage for this article, it’s fitting to use a quote from a man that wasn’t afraid to go against the dogma of contemporary beliefs, Thomas Henry Huxley.
“If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?”
~Thomas Henry Huxley
The Soaking Test Set-up
Yep, if you’ve read most of our articles, you’ll see that most involve a test.
Here are the steps and photo documentation of what we did to test the hypothesis that soaking the seed for several hours will improve the germination rate, speed growth, and increase harvest yield.
Soaking Beet Microgreen Seed
We soaked 5.2 grams of Bull’s Blood Microgreen Beet seeds in a small open glass vessel (if you know the name of the container used, please let us know in the comment section) in non-chlorinated, room-temperature water, as shown below.
The first image is immediately after the seeds are added to the water; the second is 23 hours later, right before being sown on the planting tray.
The Microgreens Podcast Episode 020
Sowing the Beet Seeds
The day after immersion, pour off the water and rinse the soaked seeds with fresh water.
Fill two planting trays with a professional coco coir based potting mix. Wet the soil mix with a spray bottle twice until a film of water can be seen on the surface, and allowed to soak into the soil.
On one tray, sow the pre-soaked beet seeds, and on the other tray, spread an equal mass of dry beet microgreen seeds. Use the spray bottle to wet the surface and settle the seeds into the soil mix.
Dry beet microgreen seeds are on the left tray; the pre-soaked seeds are on the right tray.
Place covers on the trays that rest on seed and soil. Stack the trays and place a weight on top of the cover with something that will keep the trays dark.
In our case, we used a tightly woven tea towel.
Leave the trays covered for 3- or 4-days. We check the soil surface moisture on the second day. Depending on the room conditions, the trays and seeds may need a spritz of water.
Remove the covers from the planting trays on the fourth day and place the germinated plants under a light.
The beet microgreens in the image below are 5-days old.
The soaked seeds are on the left, and the dry sown seeds are on the right.
There’s little to no difference in either germination rate or size. If anything, the beet microgreens sown dry have an advantage with germination, and the plants look a bit more sturdy and less leggy.
This may suggest that the soaked seeds may germinate sooner than the dry sown seeds.
One week from planting, the beet microgreens have started to add some green color to their leaves. See the images below (click the image to expand it).
Pre-soaked beet seeds are on the left; dry planted seeds are to the right.
Same trays and placement but from an end view to see the height.
One could argue that overall the soaked seeds are bitter taller. They’re leggier. The legginess makes it appear that the dry sown seeds on the right have grown denser.
However, there doesn’t appear to be much difference between the two sowing methods a week into the experiment.
Below are photos of the microgreens eight days later. Again, the pre-soaked beet microgreen seeds are on the left, and the dry-sown seeds are on the right.
Pre-soaked beet microgreens are on the left; dry-sown beet microgreens are on the right.
End view of the beet microgreens on day 15.
As before, there’s very little difference in the size. Again, the plants grown from the dry sown seed seem sturdier and more upright than those grown from seed soaked for 23 hours.
On the eighteenth day, the Bull’s Blood Beet microgreens were harvested. The beets were grown longer than usual, as harvest could’ve started on day 15.
The beets were starting to form their first true leaves, and it’s best to harvest them while still in the cotyledon stage.
The beet microgreens were harvested with scissors just above the soil line of both trays.
Ok, I goofed; the microgreen trays are switched in this photograph. The pre-soaked seeds are on the right.
Dry sown beet seed is on the left; pre-soaked beet seed is on the right 18 days after sowing.
One of the Bull’s Blood Beet microgreen trays after harvest.
Visually, there’s no difference between the trays of microgreens. Both look great, and neither had any issues with germination, growing, or diseases.
Let’s see what the weigh-in has to show us, however.
Bull’s Blood Beet Microgreen Weigh-in
Both trays were cut as close to the soil line without disturbing the surface.
The weight of harvested microgreens was recorded and presented below.
Harvest Weight 18-days After Sowing
The weight of microgreens harvested from the non-soaked Bull’s Blood Beet Microgreen seeds is 53.6 grams.
The weight of microgreens harvested from the pre-soaked Bull’s Blood Beet Microgreen seed is 55.9 grams.
The pre-soaked seed outproduced the dry sown seed by 2.3 grams or about a four-percent increase.
We realize there are only two data points, and even though the degree of freedom is one, both values lie within one standard deviation of the mean.
There isn’t a statistical difference between the harvest weight of pre-soaked beet seeds and seed spread on the soil surface dry and then sprayed with water.
All Articles About Beets
Beet Microgreens – Does Soaking the Seeds Improve Germination
Growing Beet Microgreens – Bull’s Blood Beets
Bull’s Blood Beet Microgreens – The Secret To Removing Seed Husks
How to Grow Beet Microgreens – Episode 20 of the Microgreens Podcast
Does Soaking Beet Microgreen Seeds Make A Difference?
That’s the short answer. You be the judge. The photos and harvest data are presented above.
The pre-soaked seed may have germinated slightly before the dry sown seed, but by comparing the microgreens in the photos, the pre-soaked beets didn’t get a significant jump or boost.
The height of the microgreens on days five, seven, and fifteen are the same.
Pre-soaking the beet seeds didn’t decrease the time to harvest.
The harvest weight of the pre-soaked beet microgreens was not significantly more than the seed sown dry.
In our opinion, the slight weight difference is a measure of stem weight. The pre-soaked beet seeds appear to be leggier from the start. Beet stems will weigh more than the leaves.
The question is, though, where is the nutritional value of the beet microgreens? In the stems or leaves? Maybe it’s a wash.
Regardless, a 4% difference, even if the pre-soaked seeds weighted more on consecutive trials, isn’t much to worry about for home microgreen growers.
Save yourself some trouble, don’t pre-soak your beet seeds.
Our recommendation when growing beet microgreens is to not pre-soak the seeds. Click the following link to read our methods of growing beet microgreens.
What About Removing the Tough Seed Husks?
Beet and Swiss chard microgreens are notorious for retaining their dry, tough seed husks. The husks remaining on the plant do not help them to grow, and are a pain to remove post-harvest. I’m not even going to mention how biting into one is not good eats.
Some authors suggest that soaking beet and Swiss chard seed helps remove the husks as the plants grow.
Is this true?
Well I grew beet (and later Swiss chard) trays side-by-side one with soaked seed, the other sown dry and counted the husks that remained on the microgreens at harvest.
No difference. Soaking did not remove more husks from the microgreens.
Again, there is no need to soak beet or Swiss chard seed. Dry seed grows as fast, as well, and with the same number of husks remaining on the microgreens. Save some time and plant the seed without pre-soaking it.
Want to Know How to Remove Beet & Swiss Chard Seed Husks?
Read this article, it will show you how to grow the perfect beet and Swiss chard microgreens.
The Home Microgreens Store Carries Beet Seed!
Checkout the Home Microgreen Store for all of your microgreen seed and supplies! Fast shipping, best customer service, and competitive pricing! Here are some of the Beet and Swiss Chard seed we carry.
Product on saleDetroit Red Beet Seed for Microgreens – Organic$2.19 – $14.49
Ruby Red Swiss Chard Microgreen Seeds$2.09 – $9.29
Bull’s Blood Beet Seed for Microgreens$2.29 – $13.99
Have a Question?
If you have any questions about pre-soaking beet microgreen seeds or any other questions on microgreens, reach out to me using the Ask a Question page.