As with anything new, growing microgreens for the first time can seem like a daunting task.
If you've never grown microgreens I'm sure you have lots of questions. Such as, "What supplies are needed?"; "How variety of microgreen to start with?"; "How wet does the soil need to be?"; "How much light do they need?"
I could go on with questions such as those forever. But don't worry this article will break it down for you in simple steps and make it easy.
Growing Microgreens for the First Time -Easy Peasy
Home Microgreens makes it easy for first timer and for that matter anyone who has already grown microgreens to produce excellent trays of nutritious greens.
In the video below, I explain the supplies you need, show you how to plant your first microgreen tray, how to water and grow your microgreens, and when to harvest them.
How easy is it to plant or sow your first microgreen tray?
I start the planting process at the 2:59 minute mark in the video and talk about each step finishing the planting at the 12:50 mark.
Even while explaining the process, it takes me less than 10 minutes. In fact, once you get the steps down it takes about 3-minutes to plant a tray of microgreens with my starter kit.
After that, the seeds and plants take over. You will have to water them once or twice, but besides that, the plants do the rest.
Watch the video and see how easy growing microgreens for the first time is with the Home Microgreen Kit.
Video Using New Home Microgreens Trays
We have an updated video showing step by step instructions using the new Home Microgreens planting trays.
Note: Some of the images below are of the beta Home Microgreens Trays (opaque trays & red lids). The black trays and opaque lids are the new Home Microgreens Trays. Both are similar-sized, but the later use much less soil and are therefore more economical.
Growing Microgreens for the First Time - Step-by-Step
The 10 steps to grow your first microgreens are presented below.
Let's Get Started Growing Your First Tray of Microgreens!
Unpack the Home Microgreens Starter Kit or use the list below to gather the equipment needed.
Here is a list of what is in the Home Microgreens Starter Kit.
- Planting Tray - has holes in the bottom to allow watering from below.
- Cover - a dark opaque cover that will fit over the planting tray.
- Watering Tray - a larger or same size tray so the planting tray can fit inside of it. The tray needs to be able to hold water.
- Premium Potting Soil - A medium that will retain water but still allow drainage and oxygen to reach the microgreens roots.
- Shaker Bottle - a bottle with holes in the top that will allow microgreens seeds to come out in a controlled manor.
- Spray Bottle - used to spray soil media and seeds with non-chlorinated water.
- Microgreens Seeds - of course!
These items along with a sunny location or inexpensive grow-light are all you need to start growing microgreens for the first time.
Lay down some newspaper on your kitchen counter or move the project to a place where a bit of dirt won't bother you and grab your planting tray and the bag of premium potting soil.
The planting tray is the one with the holes in the bottom.
Take the bag and pour the soil into the planting tray. The newer HM kit comes with the soil already in the planting tray.
Either way, the soil should be tamped gently into the tray and leveled to a point just below the lip of the tray. Large pieces of perlite (the white rocks) or chunks of coconut coir should be removed from the soil surface.
Grab the spray bottle and fill it with un-chlorinated water. I let water the water sit out on the counter for 24-hours before to dissipate the chlorine if you have municipal water.
Spray the soil until the water is seen on the surface. The water will soak into the soil. Once it has, spray the soil again and set the planting tray to the side.
Next, unscrew the top of shaker bottle (you may need to remove the seal on the top of the bottle) and add the seeds to the bottle.
The Home Microgreen Kit seed packet, or seed packets purchased from the Home Microgreen Store, have the right amount of seed needed to sow the planting tray. However, if you're using your own planting tray you can calculate the amount of seed needed for the correct seed density by reading this post.
Screw the top back on the shaker bottle and close the top so seeds won't spill if the bottle is knocked over.
In this step you will sow the seeds.
Grab the planting tray again, by now the water will have soaked into the soil. Open up the lid on the shaker bottle, the small holes will let only a few seeds sprinkle onto the soil surface at a time.
Start sprinkling seeds onto the soil working in concentric circles around the planting tray. It can be helpful to hold your spare hand around the tray so seeds don't bounce out of the tray.
Spread the seeds as evenly as possible across the surface. You may need to unscrew the top off the sprinkler bottle to get the last few seeds out of the bottle. Once all the seeds are out of the bottle use your finger to spread out clumps of seeds to areas with less seeds.
Don't worry, the spread doesn't need to be perfect. The seeds will grow and the plants will spread out to fill the voids.
In this step we prepare the seeds to germinate.
Wet the soil and seeds one more time. Spray gently at first so the water doesn't blow the seeds out of the tray. Once they're wet, you can spray with more water.
Wet them until the water can be seen on the surface of the soil.
You don't need to cover the seeds with soil (for most varieties).
Next, place your planting tray into the watering tray (we aren't adding water yet) and move it to the location where you're going to grow the microgreens.
Take the lid of the planting tray and place it upside down (so it doesn't lock closed) on top of the planting tray.
The cover on the newer HM trays makes much better contact with the seeds and germination rates appear to be better using the new equipment.
Then add a weight to the over, anything will do as long as it's heavy. We used rocks when we began. Now it's metal weight plates. In the photo below we used 2.5-pound weights on single trays. For stack trays, we use 5-pound weights.
Yep, 5-pounds, doesn't hurt a thing.
The seeds germinate best in the dark. This set is called the blackout period.
Cover the tray and weight with a tea towel to keep the trays in the dark.
Believe it or not, the seedlings will push the lid and weight off the soil surface. Even the 5-pound weights can't stop the plants from lifting the cover and weight off the tray.
Grow Your Own Microgreens
Visit the Home Microgreens Store and shop for microgreens kits, equipment, supplies, and microgreens seeds.
Microgreens are easy & quick to grow!
Don't do anything to the tray for 2- to 3-days!
Two days after sowing the seeds, take a look at the tray without removing the lid. You can remove the weight to take a better look.
Try not to remove the cover, little seedlings that haven't quite set root in the soil can be disrupted.
You'll see that the seeds have germinated and the tray will look similar to the cover image of this article. The seedlings, especially in the middle of the tray, will look white. That is ok, once they get some light they'll turn green.
At this point you have a decision to make. If the germination rate looks good and the seedlings look similar to the ones in the photo below, you can remove the lid and allow the young plants to receive light.
If they're smaller, or there isn't a lot of germination, check the soil surface to see if it is dry. If so, use the spray bottle and wet the surface again and place the lid and cover back over the tray.
Let the seeds germinate for another day or two before checking on them again. At times, we keep ours in the blackout period up to 5-days.
The white patches in the photo above are hair roots, not mold or fungus.
Once the seedlings are taking root, it won't be long before you're enjoying your first home grown microgreens.
Check the soil surface, if its dry give the plants a short spray. This will be the last time that you'll need the spray bottle.
Give the young microgreens as much light as you can and move on to the next step.
It's time to water the seedlings. Not from the top, this can cause mildew issues and also spray up soil onto the leaves. Instead, you will water from below.
Remove the planting tray from the watering tray. Notice and remember the weight of the tray. Later you'll judge if you need to add more water by feeling the weight of the planting tray.
Add about 1/4-inch of water to the watering tray. It's best to use non-chlorinated water. Although I've never seen an issue when I had to use water directly from the tap. But why hedge your bets?
Carefully lower the planting tray back into the watering tray. You'll see the water level rise in the watering tray once the upper tray starts to displace the water. In fact, the planting tray might actually float at first.
The drier soil in the planting tray will uptake water slowly at first. Once it has been wet you'll notice that it uptakes water faster.
The first time you water, it might be necessary to add another 1/4-inch of water and re-soak the planting tray.
Once the soil is moist leave the planting tray right in the watering tray place them in the light and let the microgreens grow.
Every couple of days lift the tray and judge the weight to see if the microgreens need more water. As the plants grow you'll notice they will use more water.
Most microgreens will be ready to harvest once they reach 2- to 3-inches tall. Another way to tell is when the microgreens start to develop their first true leaves. The leaves that form during the seedling stage are call seed leaves or cotyledons. Not sure what cotyledons are? Click the link to an useful article.
For more information when your specific microgreen is ready to harvest search for the microgreen in the search function of Home Microgreen (click the magnifying glass icon) or look it up in Grow Microgreens in Your Home.
To harvest the microgreens take the trays over to your kitchen counter.
Make sure there isn't a lot of water in the watering tray. If there is, empty it so you can tip both trays without water leaking out between the trays.
Tilt the microgreen trays at a steep angle and using a pair of stainless steel scissors or a very sharp knife, cut the microgreens at the end of the tray just above the soil surface.
Try not to disturb the soil, most of the time it's held in place by the microgreens.
It's best to cut the microgreens over a cutting board or a plate, allowing the cut microgreens to fall onto it. Once you've cut all of the microgreens you need you can pick up the cut greens and let them fall back onto the board or plate.
That way if any soil did come off it will settle onto the surface and dispose of it.
If you are not sure you got all of the soil off the greens or are cautious you can of course wash the microgreens before you use them. However, if you're going to store some of those greens, don't wash them until you are ready to use them. They will spoil quicker once wet.
You've Done It!
You've sow and germinated the seeds, grown the seedlings into young plants, and harvested your first literal home grown microgreens!
What is great about this Home Microgreen system is that you only have to harvest the amount of microgreens you're going to use right then and there.
Place the tray back in the light and let those greens grow until you need them again. That is the advantage of growing microgreens at home, they are as fresh as possible.
There will be a time, unless you eat them quickly, that you'll need to harvest the remaining growing greens.
Harvest them the same way and place them in a zip-lock bag and put a few small holes in the bag, squeezing out most of the air before you store them in the crisper in your refrigerator.
Use them as soon as possible to gain the most nutritional and flavor benefits from the microgreens
Now It's Time To Start More Microgreens
Now that you've grown your first microgreens it's time to get another tray or two growing. Having a continuous supply is the goal.
Remember, you can also give away any extra microgreens to your friends, maybe they haven't been brave enough to buy and try microgreens. A small gift from you might be all it takes to get them hooked on microgreens!
You can purchase a microgreen kit that includes all you need to start your first tray of microgreens at the Home Microgreens Store.
Have a Question?
If you have any questions about the information in this post or microgreens in general please leave a comment below or reach out to me using the Ask a Question page.
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