What Are Microgreens? Are They Different From Sprouts? Microgreens Podcast Episode 025

What Are Microgreens and Are They Different From Sprouts?

Episode 025 of the Microgreens Podcast

We are getting down to the basics here.

Believe it or not, microgreens and sprouts have a few different definitions. So, I thought it a good idea to present my definition of each so there is no confusion when discussing them.

Below is Episode 25 of the Microgreen Podcast, where I define microgreens and sprouts as I see them. 

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Show Notes for Episode 25 of the Microgreens Podcast

What are Microgreens and Are They Different From Sprouts?

Welcome, to episode number 25 of the Microgreens podcast.

Today, we’re going to be talking about the question “what are microgreens?

So I thought it’d be a great idea to take a portion of this podcast and make it one of the first lessons in the fundamental microgreen growing course.

And I’m going to add a little bit here before we go into the what are microgreens part, and then I’ve got a few things to explain about home microgreens in the home microgreen store.

home microgreens sells seeds

FREE Home Microgreens Grow course that teaches you the basics of growing microgreens in your home! There are 12 video lessons (over 120 minutes), downloads, and more written information and tips!

If you stick around at the end, there might be a little bonus for you.

I want to reward the people that download this podcast as soon as it comes out or near as soon as it comes out.

I appreciate it.

I did not expect this many people to download this podcast.

Initially, this was just meant to go along with a lot of my articles. Then, a person interested in microgreens but had difficulty reading text on a computer said, “Hey, could you put some audio on there?” I said, “Sure. Why not just start a podcast with some of these things? And then you can listen along and just blow up the pictures and look at them.”

I can’t believe how many downloads I had.

I’m up to over 10,000.

I hadn’t checked in the last couple of weeks, but I appreciate everyone downloading and listening to this podcast.

So let’s get right on to the topic.

What Are Microgreens Are They Different Than Sprouts?

Microgreens are the young seedlings of many common vegetables, herbs, and in some cases, flowers that we grow in our gardens.

Unfortunately, not all vegetable plants can be consumed as microgreens. However, between 50 and 60 varieties can be successively grown in the home as microgreens.

In most cases, these microgreens are harvested and consumed within 7-to-10 days after planting and before the first true leaves of the plant form.

Because of the short harvest time and small size, microgreens can be grown year-round in the house.

We all know that adding fresh greens to your diet when other forms of vegetables need to be transported to your region is very important for many reasons but beyond the scope of this discussion.

Microgreens are often confused with sprouts.

There are many definitions of the growth stages of vegetables. You can see the image below that shows all of these steps.

vegetable food stages

Here’s my description of each growth stage and how we discern between sprouts, microgreens, and baby leaves.

Sprout Definition

Sprouts are germinated in water, or at least in an environment to keep the seeds and the plant near 100% humidity. Sprouts are harvested before the seed leaf, or the cotyledon fully forms.

Also, when you consume sprouts, you eat the roots, the embryo, and sometimes the seed husk, plus the developing plant.

Microgreen Definition

Microgreens are grown on a potting mix of fabric media or sometimes on screens or in slotted trays.

The plant stem is cut above the root base when microgreens are harvested. Therefore, you’re not eating the roots.

The leaves are more developed than sprouts but are often still in the cotyledon stage, although some are grown and harvested after the first true leaf forms.

Click the links for more information on what cotyledons and true leaves are.

Because microgreens are grown under lights and usually on soil, they benefit from the energy captured from the light photons and the minerals transported into the plants from the soil.

Some Nutrition Research Has Shown

The Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry has reported an average of four to six times more nutrients by weight in microgreens than in immature vegetables. This is an average of about 20 or 25 different microgreens.

Yes, some studies suggest particular nutrients are 40 times more in some microgreens, but we shouldn’t pick and choose microgreens based on their vitamin and mineral composition.

This is reductionist thinking and is outdated and should be disregarded.

Nutrition for humans, at least, is a holistic venture. Variety is better than a monotropic diet.

Okay, that’s enough of my soapbox on microgreen nutrition, so let’s get back to the microgreens.

Other Definitions for Sprouts & Microgreens

Some people break down the definition of sprouts and microgreens as follows.

Any green eaten before the true leaf forms are considered a sprout.

Microgreens come into being only after the true leaf forms.

Using this definition means that plants like radish and broccoli, which are usually eaten for a good reason before the true leaves form, would always be considered sprouts.

I believe the key distinction between sprouts and microgreens is what part of the plant is eaten. If you consume the roots, then you’re eating sprouts.

You eat microgreens only when you eat the stem and the leaf.

So which is more nutritious, sprouts or microgreens? 

It probably depends on the seed, but if I know my biology, it should be a wash in the end.

All the energy contained in the seed is transferred to the plant.

So the little energy remaining in the roots of the sprout is more than made up by the absorption of light energy in microgreens.

As a side note, some seeds can only be eaten as sprouts, such as beans and lentils, and some microgreens can’t be grown as sprouts like borage, sunflowers, beets, et cetera.

I hope this clarifies what a microgreen is and the difference between microgreens and sprouts.

Like all things, this isn’t always black and white as there are some gray areas, but in broad brushes, this should cover the differences between microgreens and sprouts.

I’m sure many of you knew the difference between a sprout and a microgreen.

I don’t know what definition you use.

Leave a comment down below.

What do you think the difference is between a sprout and a microgreen?

It’d be interesting to get some other feedback on that.

Listening Bonus

I promised those that downloaded the podcast soon after it was published that I give them a little bonus, and here it is.

If you would like 20% off microgreen seeds, go to the Home Microgreen Store and use the coupon code:


To get 20% off all microgreen seeds in your cart, excluding sale items.

Again, go to homemicrogreens.com/store.

Choose your seeds, go to the checkout, enter coupon code Podcast25,

that is P-O-D-C-A-S-T-2-5, and receive 20% off all the seeds in your cart, excluding sale items.

You have to do this before May 18th, 2022 at midnight Eastern Standard Time.

The purpose of the coupon is just to see if people are listening to or downloading the podcast as soon as it’s published, are customers are not.

That will determine how much effort I put into this podcast, whether I make it more regular, or just keep going like I’m doing and adding a new episode either when I have time when someone brings up a topic or adding content to an article.

Fundamental Microgreen Growing Course

In other news, I have finalized all the lessons in the fundamental microgreens growing course, and I’ll be putting them together.

Again, this podcast will be repurposed as part of one of the lessons in the course.

Very soon, I will be asking people if they would like to participate in the course building process.

I’ll probably be asking some of the customers that have been loyal and bought many times first. ​

Then I’ll invite people on a podcast episode.

So stay tuned for that.

There’ll be a huge discount to get into the fundamentals microgreen growing course.

And all I’d ask in return is feedback on the processes of the course.

How was the purchase?

How was getting to the lessons, how are the lessons set up, and what other information do I need to add to the course to make it the perfect course for anyone growing microgreens in their home.

That’s all I have for you today.

Again, the show notes are going to be at homemicrogreens.com/025. That’s how you can access any show notes for any of the podcasts. Just go to homemicrogreens.com/025 for episode 25.

Suppose you’re looking for episode 10, home microgreens.com/010. And again, don’t forget, you can get 20% off all the microgreen seeds in your cart by using the coupon code Podcast25 before May 18th at midnight. That’s May 18, 2022, depending on when you listen to this.

And I hope you have a great week and I hope to see you in the store.

If you have any questions, you can leave a comment in the show notes, or you can email me at to**@ho*************.com, and I will get right to your question and help you out.

So have a great week, guys.


  • 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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