Episode 019 How to Grow Microgreens Cheap

Microgreens Podcast Episode 019 How to Grow Microgreens Cheap

An Answer the Public Question

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Links to Products Mentioned in the Podcast

Home Microgreens Trays with Soil
TerraFibre Hemp Mat
Coco Fiber Grow Mat
Ocean Solution Liquid Fertilizer
Barrina LED T8 Lights
Barrina 2-ft Grow Lights

How to Grow Microgreens Cheap Podcast Transcript

Welcome to the Microgreens podcast.

Today, we’re going to try a new method of creating episodes.

I went to Answer the Public, which is a website where you can type in a keyword or a keyword sentence, and it gives you the who, what, whys, whens, and where of all the questions on Google that relate to that question.

I entered the following keywords, microgreens and how to grow microgreens and downloaded the CSV file of possible questions related to the keywords.

All the questions are entered into a spreadsheet, numbered all the rows, and then put a random generator into the spreadsheet. So we’re going to just let the random generator pick a row number, and then I’ll answer whatever question is listed on that row of the spreadsheet.

home microgreens sells seeds

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I’m going to answer that question off the top of my head if it’s a good question. If it’s a bad question, we’ll just delete the row and start all over again.

So I have the spreadsheet all set up with the random generator. There are 716 questions right now, and I’m just going to refresh the screen, which will add a new random number. And it is number 201. And question 201 is labeled microgreens distributors. So that is not a good enough question. So let’s retry this. It’s number 557, how to grow microgreens cheap. Let me highlight that one, so we don’t redo it. And then we’ll answer the question.

So the question is, how to grow microgreens cheap. Boy, this is a sensitive subject for me, but I do have some answers for it.

How to Grow Microgreens Cheap – as in Inexpensive

So let’s start off with what we need to grow microgreens.

We’re going to need a tray. We’re going to need some sort of media. We’re going to need seeds, and we will not be able to use LED lights to grow cheap.

Light for Microgreens on the Cheap

If you want to grow microgreens cheap without a light, then you’re going to have to find a sunny window. South exposure would be the best. Get anywhere north, say of 42, maybe 44 degrees latitude, and it’s going to be difficult to find enough light in the winter to grow them.

But if you do have a sunny window like that, you can get by without a light.

If you do have to buy a light and still want to do microgreens cheap, then I would recommend going to any of the box stores.

Lowe’s, Home Depot, Ace Hardware, and find an inexpensive LED light. They’re usually around $15 to $20.

The main thing you want to know about these lights is that there’s a K value, which is the color temperature of the light. So you want it above 5,000 K, preferably 6,500 K. But if it’s 5,000 above, you’re good. I have grown plenty of microgreens under a cheap $15 light from Home Depot with 4,000 K.

So it can be done.

The difference in those lights is if you get a lower K value, say around 4,000; they’re going to grow a little bit taller and leggier than if a light has 6,500 K. So for lights, you’re either going to use sunlight if you have a nice sunny window or you’re going to use a cheap LED light from a home box store.

Inexpensive Microgreen Trays

Let’s talk about trays.

Now you can buy a cheap tray… Cheap’s a bad word. You can buy an inexpensive tray from me for $5, and that includes the soil. But even less, I think they’re $3.29 and $0.99.

So for like $4.29, you can buy a Home Microgreens watering tray and a planting tray. The planting tray has holes in it. They are made out of food-grade plastic. You can put them in the dishwasher to sterilize them. And the reason I don’t want to say cheap is that I’m still using some of the same trays as I did what I started with four years ago. So if you don’t abuse these trays, they’re going to last you forever. 

I grow a lot of microgreens in these. I think I have 10 or 11 trays set aside and they are in use every week for 3 or 4 years.

You can grow a lot of microgreens in one of these inexpensive trays, and they’ll last you for a long time.

Now you can go cheaper.

You can use… I’ve seen people using even things without holes. And although I don’t recommend it, things like pie tins or glass bowls, you just have to be really careful with water.

I don’t recommend that.

I think you need some sort of planting tray. You need something that will drain water.

Probably the cheapest would be a clamshell, whether you’re buying blueberries or any vegetables like cherry tomatoes that come in those plastic clamshells, and you can use those.

I don’t like them because plants usually grow a little bit better when the surface is dark so that the light doesn’t get to the roots. Also, those are really flimsy and cheap. You can pick them up and crush them and drop them.

They won’t last as long, even though they’re free, to begin with, it isn’t worth the trouble they cause.

You end up generally with a bunch of different sizes. And it’s tough to grow microgreens consistently in those types of trays.

You really want to be consistent with your grows.

You want everything the same every time you grow. The same amount of soil, the same size tray. Because if you run into a problem, it’s one less variable you have to worry about. You can figure out what the problem is.

Sometimes spending a little is better than using free.

Grow Media – Soil and Grow Mats

So we covered lights. We covered trays. Now let’s do the soil media.

Soil is probably a little bit more expensive to use than hemp mats or coco fiber mats.

It’s definitely more expensive to ship if you buy in bulk. But the soil itself is definitely cheaper if you buy a larger bag and that often overcomes the cost of shipping.

So the best way to do it is again, buying bulk. Try to buy a two cubic foot bag.

For example, a two cubic foot bag of soil will fill about 75 of my Home Microgreens tray. Even if you’re buying it on Amazon, you’re spending $35 or $40. If you purchase a two cubic foot bag, it’s under $1, about $0.65, to fill a Home Microgreens tray with soil.

Now, if you buy smaller quantities, smaller size bags, obviously the price per unit is going to go up. If you’re growing one or two trays a month, then probably the hemp mats, the TerraFibre mats, or the coco fiber mats are going to be better for you in the long run than trying to store a lot of soil.

So again, what you use as a grow media will depend on the volume of microgreens you’re going to grow. If you’re growing a lot of microgreens, two or three trays a week, then you’re better off getting a large bag of soil. If you’re just growing two or three trays a month, then I would go with the TerraFibre or the coco fiber mats.

You know my opinions on which grow media is the best. Soil definitely grows microgreens better than the mats, anytime, anywhere, any place. And you don’t have to buy fertilizer.

So that’s the other thing you’re going to have to consider. If you buy a good potting mix, even if it’s costing you $30 or $40 for a two cubic foot bag, it’s still going to be cheaper than buying the hemp mats or the coco fiber mats, and then buying the fertilizer that you need to add the water to grow the microgreens halfway decent in them.

I have tons of blog posts; just go to homemicrogreens.com, type in grow media, and all the articles will come up, and you can see all the comparisons that I’ve done.

Soil grows microgreens better than any grow mat day in day out.

Microgreen Seeds  

So we’ve covered lights, we’ve covered trays, we’ve covered grow media, and now we need to cover seeds.

And the best place to get inexpensive seeds is… And they’re all about the same prices. Whether you go to the Home Microgreens Store, go to True Leaf, or go to Johnny’s or wherever you’re going, High Mowing for organic seeds, you want to buy in the largest quantity you can afford.

Don’t worry. These seeds are going to keep.

You do have to worry about how many trays you’re going to be planting, though. Not because the seeds won’t keep, but how many varieties do you want to grow at any one time.

The problem obviously is if you’re buying a pound of seed is, how many pounds of seed do you want to buy if you’re growing different varieties? It gets expensive to buy 3 or 4 pounds of seeds at once.

So you have to consider how many different types of microgreens you want to grow at any one time and how many bags of microgreen seed you want to buy. Just get the largest bag or the largest package that you can in your price range.

Buying in bulk is definitely the best way to grow microgreens inexpensively.

Microgreens Podcast Show Sponsor is Home Microgreens and the Home Microgreens Store

I’d like to remind you that this podcast is sponsored by the Home Microgreens store and homemicrogreens.com, where you can buy all kinds of seeds, organic seeds, microgreen kits, trays, and soil to grow microgreens right in your own home.

Our prices are very competitive, so check it out. Again, go to homemicrogreens.com, click on the shop button, and it’ll take you to homemicrogreens.com/store, where you can see all of our product lines.

Podcast Recap – How to Grow Microgreens Cheap

So let’s recap this podcast.

The question was how to grow microgreens cheap. And by cheap, we’re going to say inexpensive.

We’re going to need four things.

  1. We’re going to need some sort of light source.
  2. We’ll need some kind of tray.
  3. to put the soil, or the grow media in.
  4. And we’re going to need seeds. 

So for light, sunlight’s obviously the most inexpensive. It’s free, but you’re still going to need a south or southeast or southwest exposure window to grow microgreens and really any climate. Northern climate, you’re going to need some sort of light source. LED lights are the way to go. They don’t take much energy to run, and they’re fairly inexpensive now.

If you need one light, I would go to Home Depot, Lowe’s, or any of the box garden stores. Just get an LED shop light, make sure the K value is over 5,000, and you’re good to go.

If you’re going to grow a whole shelf of microgreens, then check out the links down below for Barrina lights. You can get six four-foot tube lights at 6,500 K, and they’re going to cost you about $6 or $7 apiece. So that’s the best way to go for lights.

For trays, here’s where we’re going to talk about the difference between cheap and inexpensive. You can go with a cheap tray, something that’s free, like a pie tin. The problem is it doesn’t have any holes on the bottom, so you’re going to have to be very careful with water, or you’ll end up overwatering them. You can go the other free route and use a clamshell.

Those are what I would call cheap. They’re very flimsy. They’re so deep it takes a lot of soil to fill them. If you get the shallow ones, they’re just small. So yes, you can get them for free, but I would go with something like a Home Microgreens tray.

The Home Microgreens Tray is going to be the most inexpensive you can get for under $5. You’re going to get a watering tray, a planting tray, along with the soil for $5, and they grow microgreens just wonderful. 

Plus, they allow you to bottom water, that is the way to go. You need that planting tray with the holes into it, water in your watering tray, and set the planting tray on top and let the water go up from the bottom. That way, you’re not getting your microgreens wet, and you have less chance of disease. So I would go with the Home Microgreens tray. That’s going to be the most inexpensive tray that you can get.

Grow Media, again, this is going to depend on how many microgreens you’re going to grow a month. If you’re growing a lot of microgreens, several trays, then the soil is going to be your best bet.

Buy a big bag, two cubic feet if you can, and just store it properly. I’ll link to a blog post down below on how to store soil without it going bad. If you’re growing one or two trays a week, it might be less expensive to use a grow media like TerraFibre hemp mat or the coco fiber grow mat.

Both are in the Home Microgreens Store.

The only advantage soil would have over the grow media as far as being inexpensive is that you might get more yield out of the same value of soil than you would out of a hemp mat. But that would be something you’d have to test.

Lastly, we have seeds, and the best way to buy seeds would be in bulk. For most seed companies, the prices are, on average, going to be about the same. Whether you go to the Home Microgreens store, True Leaf, or High Mowing, they’re all going to be about the same price. One might be more expensive in one store than the other, but on average, they’re all going to be pretty close to the same.

So the way to make seed buying inexpensive would be to buy in bulk.

I just totally don’t recommend buying seeds off Amazon. Those go to distributors. You don’t know how long they’ve been there. Buy from a reputable source. Again, the Home Microgreens store, obviously my favorite place to buy seed. If I were going to buy seeds, I’d go to the Home Microgreen store. You’re going to get great customer service. But True Leaf Market and High Mowing are also very good. Johnny’s is also high quality, a little bit more expensive.

But check out those four different stores and buy the largest amount of seed you can use.

Again, it’s going to depend on how many different varieties you want to grow, how many microgreens you grow, but still, just buy the largest quantity of seed that you think’s possible.

That’s going to lower the price.


So I hope you enjoyed this type of episode. I think this is going to be pretty cool. We’ll just have a different question every week. I’ll have my other podcast episodes as well.

These will just be sort of add-on or fillers to make sure I get a podcast out every week. If you have any specific questions you’d like answered, just email them to me at Todd@home microgreens.com.

I’ll see if I can get them on the podcast.

I want you guys just to go out there and have a great week.

Let’s keep growing.


  • Todd

    Todd is the founder of Home Microgreens & the Home Microgreens store. He also writes for several other websites, including MyViewFromTheWoods.com. Todd worked at a large farm market, garden & nursery center for 20 years. Somehow he snuck off to become a geologist and professor before coming back to his senses to write & lecture about microgreens and gardening. When not at the computer, he can be found in the garden, trout stream, or mountain trail with his new Springer Spaniel Caden.

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