It's been a long time coming, but finally, we are testing grow mats for microgreens.
In one of the earliest articles on Home Microgreens, we grew microgreens on soil and jute matting. Ever since then, we have been on a kick to find the best soil for growing microgreens.
Because we love growing microgreens, or any seeds for that matter, on soil as that's nature's way.
But now, with thousands of more readers, countless emails and messages, we have finally gotten it through our thick heads (ok, my think head) that many readers and customers don't want to deal with soil.
This article will be one of many on using grow mats for microgreens.
More specifically, this will be the first of three articles on using Terrafibre™ hemp matting.
Terrafibre™ Grow Mats For Microgreens
Terrafibre™ grow mats are made from hemp and have a biodegradable quilted backing that makes the mats easier to handle and absorb water more evenly.
You can see the white quilted backing at the top and the brown hemp fibers in the forefront in the photo above.
The loose weave on the hemp fibers allows rooting microgreens to grab a foothold in the grow mat quickly.
Terrafibre™ is a product line of the Canadian company BioComposites Group. You can learn more about the Terrafibre™ product line and BCG by clicking this link.
Why Create a 3-Part Series on Terrafibre™
With so many different grow mats for microgreens to test, why create a three-part series on one brand?
When you see the trial results, you'll know why we needed to do another test and article.
When the second article is published, you'll see why we like Terrafibre™ as a grow mat for microgreens and why we also decided to sell it in the Home Microgreens Store.
The third article, which will be mostly a video, will show some of the tricks we've learned using these hemp microgreen mats.
Terrafibre Grow Mats Verse Home Microgreens Potting Mix
If you've listened to the Microgreens Podcast, you'll know that I've been critical of many blogs, articles, and videos that show results without a control. For example, the red cabbage microgreens in the cover image of this article look great.
But look at the results of this trial, and you'll see that they aren't so great when compared to growing microgreens with Home Microgreens Potting Mix.
For that reason, we always test new products along with what has worked well in the past.
The video below shows the process and results of growing red cabbage microgreens on Terrafibre™ hemp grow mats along with our Home Microgreens Potting Mix.
Terrafibre™ Grow Mats for Microgreens Video
Don't Let These Grow Mat Results Discourage You
As mentioned in the video, this test is unfair.
While our Home Microgreens Potting Mix is full of nutrients right out of the bag, the hemp matting has none.
We also did not use any fertilizer during watering. Therefore the soil had an advantage during the trial.
If you don't believe it, wait until the release of the second video.
In the second part of this series, we will add fertilizer to the grow.
That said, as a grow mat for microgreens, the Terrafibre™ hemp mat was great.
Take a look at the germination.
Only one seed didn't germinate, and all of the radicles are diving into the fibers for support.
Grow Mat Allows Anchorage to Lift 2-1/2 Pounds
Some of the mats I've tried before (jute) didn't allow the radicle or roots to penetrate the mat and support the plant.
Instead, the roots slide along the top of the mat, and the plant stems did the same.
Not So Here, Look at the Lift
The Terrafibre™ provides support for the plants to lift the weight during the blackout period.
The plants on the grow mat (left container) are lifting the weight as well as those grown on soil.
The loose texture of the hemp mat allows the roots to gain hold and push.
Do You Have a Pinterest Microgreen Board?
If not, why not start one! Use this pin as the first or add to your existing boards.
Great Early Growth with the Terrafibre™ Hemp Grow Mat
Not only do seeds germinate and root well in the grow mat, but they also have phenomenal early growth.
As you can see in the photo below, the Red Acre Cabbage microgreens are dense, are growing quickly with a very upright habit.
The photo shows the microgreens on day 7 or 8 of the grow. To be honest, these microgreens are quite a ways behind those grown in the Home Microgreens Potting Mix.
However, the mat has taken the plants as far as nutrients in the seed can go.
Terrafibre™ Grow Mats for Microgreens Allows Great Root Growth.
Before we discuss the final results and talk about some of the not so hot things about grow mats, we want to show another significant benefit of the hemp mats.
Look at the root mat that those Red Acre Cabbage Seeds produced!
As you can see, the red cabbage microgreen roots completely cover the bottom of the grow mat. The roots are so dense that the pattern of the Home Microgreens Planting Tray can be seen.
Mind you, that is without fertilizer.
So in our opinion, the grow mat outdid itself as a growing medium.
Final Test Results Growing Red Cabbage Hemp Mat Verse Soil
Let's cut to the chase. You shouldn't take the results at face value.
Instead, look at the potential.
Maybe this is something I didn't do early on when writing microgreen articles. But hopefully, with age comes wisdom.
In the photo, it's evident that the Red Acre Cabbage microgreens grown in the Home Microgreens Potting Mix (right side) have larger leaves, are taller, and have more volume than those grown on the Terrafibre™ Hemp mat.
But remember that microgreens grown on the hemp have no added nutrition. In comparison, the soil has amendments that provide additional nutrition to the microgreens.
Reasons the Hemp Mat has Potential
We believe that the hemp mat has potential because of the plants' growth habits and how well the roots penetrated the mat and created, for lack of a better term, a mat of roots.
We also liked how well the plants lifted the weight off of themselves. In other attempts, the plants looked for ways to grow out and around the lid and weight.
But with this hemp mat, the microgreens gained a foothold and pushed the lid upwards.
Not that we will change over to growing microgreens on hemp matting, we will still use soil because there are negatives.
We will discuss those negatives in the third article in this series.
But for those that want to use fiber mats instead of soil, we will look into the best ways to accomplish this.
Part 2 of Grow Mats For Microgreens
In the second article of the grow mats for microgreens series, we'll use an organic liquid fertilizer to see if Terrafibre™ hemp mats can grow microgreens as well as those grown in soil.
The results surprised us!
We will place a link to that article here when it's published.
But if you haven't yet received our Free Guide, download it now, and we'll email you when the second article is ready.
Free Quick Microgreen Guide
Follow the recommendations in this guide and you'll be eating microgreens in as few as 7-days!
Already Know You Want to Grow Microgreens with Terrafibre™?
As we mentioned, you shouldn't view the results of Part 1 of this series as unfavorable.
We've hinted that using a liquid fertilizer with hemp matting will give the soil a run for its money. So if you're interested in trying Terraibre™ hemp matting, check it out in the Home Microgreens Store.
Our prices are very competitive, and you can buy it in sizes pre-cut for the Home Microgreens Tray, 1010 trays, 1020 trays, and also by the linear foot!