As with anything new, growing microgreens for the first time can seem daunting.
If you’ve never grown microgreens, I’m sure you have many questions. Such as, “What supplies are needed?”; “How variety of microgreens 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.
Sprouting kolhrabi microgreens ready to be placed in the light.
- Growing Microgreens for the First Time -Easy Peasy
- Video Using New Home Microgreens Trays
- Growing Microgreens for the First Time – Step-by-Step
- Grow Your Own Microgreens
- You've Done It!
- Now It's Time To Start More Microgreens
- Have a Question?
Growing Microgreens for the First Time -Easy Peasy
Home Microgreens makes it easy for first-timers 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, 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?
In the video, I start the planting process at the 2:59 minute mark 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. 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 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 latter uses much less soil and is more economical.
Growing Microgreens for the First Time – Step-by-Step
The ten 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 water 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. The tray needs to be able to hold water.
- Premium Potting Soil – A medium that retains water but allows 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 manner.
- Spray Bottle – used to spray soil media and seeds with non-chlorinated water.
- Microgreens Seeds – of course!
These items and 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 dissipating 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, respray the soil and set the planting tray to the side.
Next, unscrew the top of the shaker bottle (you may need to remove the seal on the top) 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 planting tray, you can calculate the seed needed for the correct seed density by reading this post.
Screw the top back on the shaker bottle and close the top so the seeds won’t spill if the bottle is knocked over.
In this step, you will sow the seeds.
Grab the planting tray again; the water will have soaked into the soil by now. Open 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 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. Once all the seeds are out of the bottle, use your finger to spread clumps of seeds to areas with fewer 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 them with more water.
Wet them until the water can be seen on the soil’s surface.
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 where you will grow the microgreens.
Place the lid of the planting tray 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 cover. 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.
Two-and-a-half-pound weights were added to the top of the tray covers.
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
Don’t do anything to the tray for 2- to 3 days!
Look at the tray without removing the lid two days after sowing the seeds. You can remove the weight to take a better look.
Try not to remove the cover. The little seedlings that haven’t entirely 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 will look white, especially in the middle of the tray. That is ok; they’ll turn green once they get some light.
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, wet the surface again, and place the lid and cover back over the tray.
Let the seeds germinate for another day before checking on them again. We sometimes keep ours in the blackout period of 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 homegrown microgreens.
Check the soil surface; give the plants a short spray if it’s dry. This will be the last time that you’ll need the spray bottle.
Give the young microgreens as much light as possible 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. However, 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 float at first.
The drier soil in the planting tray will uptake water slowly at first. Once wet, you’ll notice that it uptakes water faster.
The first time you water, adding another 1/4-inch of water and re-soak the planting tray might be necessary.
Once the soil is moist, leave the planting tray in the watering tray, place them in the light, and let the microgreens grow.
Every few 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 develop their first true leaves. The leaves that form during the seedling stage are called seed leaves or cotyledons. Not sure what cotyledons are?
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 cut the microgreens at the end of the tray just above the soil surface using a pair of stainless steel scissors or a very sharp knife.
Try not to disturb the soil; mainly, the microgreens hold it in place.
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 would settle onto the board’s surface, and you could dispose of it.
If you are unsure you got all of the soil off the greens or are cautious, you can 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 quickly once wet.
You’ve Done It!
You’ve sowed and germinated the seeds, grown the seedlings into young plants, and harvested your first home-grown microgreens!
What is excellent about this Home Microgreen system is that you only have to harvest the number of microgreens you will use immediately.
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, place them in a zip-lock bag, and put a few small holes in the bag, squeezing out most of the air before storing them in the crisper in your refrigerator. See how to keep them even fresher!
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 grow another tray or two. 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. Your small gift 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.