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Can You Grow Microgreens Without Soil? Unlock The Secrets In 7 Easy Steps

can you grow microgreens without soil

Can you grow microgreens without soil?

Picture this: a thriving garden of microgreens in your home, all without the clutter and chaos usually associated with soil. It almost sounds too good to be true.

That’s what I thought until I stumbled upon the hydroponic method.

The discovery that I could grow microgreens without soil was a revelation for me!

In this guide, I’ll share with you the detailed steps to successfully cultivate hydroponic microgreens with nothing but seeds and water.

Join me as we explore this cleaner, more efficient approach to growing microgreens.

What Are Microgreens?

Microgreens are young vegetable greens, harvested just after the first leaves have developed. Think of them as the baby version of your favourite veggies and herbs.

But don’t let their size fool you; they offer a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, often containing higher nutrient levels than their mature plant counterparts.

You can grow microgreens from various vegetables and herbs such as kale, broccoli, radish, and mustard.

They’re easy to grow indoors all year round, requiring minimum space and equipment.

Can You Grow Microgreens Without Soil?

Yes, you can!

This might come as a surprise, right? After all, don’t plants need nutrients from the soil to grow?

The Secret Lies In The Seed

Here’s the thing: plants do need nutrients to grow, but microgreens are a bit of a special case. Their secret lies in their super short growth cycle. We’re talking about a seed-to-harvest time of just 10 to 14 days, when their first true leaves pop up.

During this rapid growth period, the seed itself provides all the nutrients the plant needs. It’s quite fascinating when you think about it!

So, what does this mean for growing them? Well, it opens up a world of possibilities! Since the seed is doing most of the heavy lifting, you can grow microgreens in a variety of soilless mediums. Think about coconut coir, hemp mats, and even paper towels.

And get this – you can even grow them in just water! Yes, no medium at all!

It’s a game-changer, especially if you’re not a fan of the mess that soil can bring, not to mention the cost savings.

What You Will Need

Ready to start your soil-free microgreens journey? You’re about to find out how easy and fuss-free it can be! Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Seeds: Choose your favourites! How about some spicy radish, mild broccoli, fragrant basil, or tangy mustard? The variety of microgreen seeds is like a rainbow – pick what excites you!
  2. A Container With a Lid: Grab a shallow tray or container – anything that’s about 1-2 inches deep. Think of repurposing a baking tray or an old take-out container. It just needs to hold water without leaking.
  3. Spray Bottle: This little buddy is for watering your greens. You aim to keep the seeds moist – think morning dew, not a rainstorm.
  4. Scissors: When it’s time to harvest, a pair of kitchen scissors will be your best friend. You’ll snip those greens right when they’re perfect for eating.

And that’s it! No complicated gadgets or soil mess. With these simple items, most of which you probably already have, you’re all set. Up next, let’s dive into the steps of growing your microgreens using only water. It’s easier than you think!

If you can’t decide which seeds to choose, check my complete guide: Top Picks: Which Microgreens to Grow at Home for Nutrient-Packed Harvests

Can You Grow Microgreens Without Soil? Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Soak Your Seeds (Optional but Helpful)

Here’s a tip: soaking your seeds can give them a quick start. Pop them in water for a few hours or overnight. This step is optional, but I would really recommend it if you’re using larger seeds like peas or sunflower seeds.

A word of caution, if you’re working with basil or chia, skip this step. They get a bit too gooey when wet.

Step 2: Prepare Your Container

Airflow is key. Poke a few holes on the sides of the container or its lid. This will allow your tiny greens to breathe.

You can also mist your container with a few good sprays of water. This will create a shallow water bed for your seeds.

Step 3: Sprinkle Your Seeds

Now, scatter your seeds evenly across the container. Aim for a nice balance – no big clumps or empty patches.

Step 4: More Misting

Spritz the seeds a few more times with water. Think of it like tucking them in with a cosy mist blanket.

Step 5: Darkness for Germination

Close up the container and pop it in a dark spot, like a cupboard. This is their cosy blackout phase. For the next 5-6 days, only open it to give them a daily mist. Try to resist checking on them too often!

Step 6: Light It Up After Sprouting

About 5-6 days later, they’re ready for light! Move them to a sunny windowsill or under grow lights. You’ll see them turn from yellow to a happy green in a day or two.

Make sure to read my article on the best sources of light for microgreens: Shedding Light on Growth: Do Microgreens Need Light to Thrive?

Step 7: Harvest Time!

In about 11-12 days, most microgreens are ready. Hold off watering a day before you plan to harvest. You can snip them at the base, or if you’re adventurous, eat them roots and all. Just dry the roots well with paper towels if you’re going the full monty.

And there you go! Your own mini garden, all without a speck of soil. Enjoy your harvest!

Fixing Common Microgreen Growing Issues

Growing microgreens can be a breeze, but sometimes you might encounter some hiccups. No stress – there are easy fixes for these little issues. Let’s tackle the common ones:

Are Your Microgreens Looking Dry?

Are your microgreens looking a bit sad and wilted? They might be dehydrated. A gentle spray of water should perk them right up.

Did You Give Your Microgreens Too Much Water?

The opposite problem is overwatering. This can make your microgreens soggy or even cause mould. If you overwatered by mistake, try pouring the excess water out, leaving the lid open and placing them in a sunny spot.

Have You Spotted Mould In Your Microgreens?

Mold thrives in moist, dark spots. Spotting some fuzz? It could be from too much dampness or not enough air moving around. To keep mould at bay, balance the moisture and try poking some holes in your cover for better airflow.

Read my full guide on mould in microgreens: How to Avoid Mould in Microgreens: 7 Proven Techniques for Healthy Harvests

Are Your Microgreens Growing Unevenly?

If you notice uneven growth, it might be because of uneven light or moisture. Try rotating your container every day for even light. Also, check that the moisture is the same all over your container.

Are Your Microgreens Looking Pale?

If your microgreens are more yellow than green, they’re craving light. Post-blackout phase, they should be in a bright spot. But remember, they’re not fans of harsh, direct sunlight.

Is Your Microgreens Germination Taking Forever?

Some seeds like to take their time. If they’re extra slow, check if your seeds are fresh. Also, make sure the temperature is just right – not too chilly or too warm.

Remember, growing microgreens is all about learning and experimenting. Every little challenge is a chance to up your indoor gardening game. Keep trying different things, and you’ll nail the perfect microgreen growing method in no time!

Pros and Cons of Growing Microgreens Without Soil

Pros of Growing Microgreens Without Soil

Pest-Free Environment: One of the biggest wins of growing microgreens without soil is avoiding unwanted guests. If you use garden soil, who knows what tiny critters might hitch a ride into your kitchen. Growing without soil keeps your microgreen garden bug-free and your home safe from infestations.

Cleaner and More Convenient: No soil, no mess! This method means zero dirt scattered around, making it a neat choice for indoor gardening. It’s especially handy in the kitchen, where cleanliness is key.

Easy Monitoring: When microgreens grow without soil, everything is visible. You can watch every stage of their development, from seed to sprout. It’s fascinating to see the entire process unfold right before your eyes.

Whole Plant Harvest: Here’s a tasty perk – you can eat the entire plant. Unlike soil-grown microgreens, where roots are left behind, paper towel-grown greens give you more to munch on. You get the roots, stems, and leaves, maximizing your harvest.

Cons of Growing Microgreens on Paper Towels

Frequent Watering Needed: Since there is no soil to hold moisture, they require more attention. You’ll need to check and water them more often to keep them hydrated. This could mean watering them twice a day or more.

More Delicate Greens: Microgreens on paper towels have a bit of a stability issue. Their roots can’t anchor as firmly as they would in soil, making them more prone to damage. You’ll want to handle these tiny greens with extra care to avoid breakage.


And there you have it, a complete guide to growing microgreens without soil! It’s so simple, isn’t it?

So, why wait? Don’t postpone for an elusive “someday” or wait for the perfect opportunity. Grab those seeds and do it today!

Imagine this: in a few days, you could be harvesting your very first batch of nutritious microgreens, all sprouted from a small seed!

Can You Grow Microgreens Without Soil? – Frequently Asked Questions

Can Soil-less Microgreen Cultivation Be Successful?

Absolutely! Growing microgreens without soil is not only feasible but also quite efficient. This method often uses alternatives like paper towels, hydroponic mediums, or other soil substitutes. These alternatives provide a clean, controlled environment, reducing the risk of soil-borne diseases and pests. Moreover, soil-less cultivation is often preferred for its convenience and cleanliness, particularly for indoor gardening.

What Are the Key Benefits of Growing Microgreens Without Soil?

The key benefits of growing microgreens without soil include a cleaner growing process, reduced risk of pests and diseases, and often a faster growth cycle. This method is particularly suitable for indoor environments where space and cleanliness are paramount.

How Do I Ensure Adequate Nutrition for the Microgreens Without Soil?

In soil-less cultivation, microgreens typically derive their nutrients from the seeds themselves. However, for extended growth or larger varieties, adding a nutrient solution to the water can be beneficial. It’s important to use a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer at the right concentration to avoid over-fertilization.

What Are Common Challenges in Soil-less Microgreen Cultivation and How Can They Be Addressed?

One of the main challenges in soil-less microgreens cultivation is maintaining proper moisture levels. Overwatering can lead to mold or fungal issues, while under-watering can dry out the microgreens. Regular misting and ensuring good air circulation are key. Also, providing adequate light is crucial for healthy growth. If natural light is insufficient, consider using grow lights.

Can All Types of Microgreens Be Grown Without Soil?

While most microgreens can thrive without soil, some varieties might prefer soil or other specific growing mediums. It’s always good to research the specific needs of the variety you plan to grow. Generally, microgreens like radishes, kale, and broccoli do exceptionally well without soil.

What If My Microgreens Aren’t Growing Well?

If your microgreens aren’t growing well, check the freshness of your seeds and the environmental conditions. Some seeds might require more time to germinate.

Any Tips For Harvesting?

For harvesting, you can cut the microgreens at the base of their stems. If you include the roots, make sure to dry them thoroughly before storing.

When Do I Expose The Microgreens To Light?

Expose the microgreens to light after about 5-6 days in the dark. This will turn their leaves from yellow to green.