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From Seed to Harvest: How to Grow Microgreens in Soil with Ease in 7 Steps (A Comprehensive Tutorial)

how to grow microgreens in soil

Imagine having a constant supply of fresh, nutritious greens.

Even in winter.

Even if you don’t have a garden.

That’s the magic of microgreens!

Learning how to grow microgreens in soil has been a revelation for me, opening up a whole new world of gardening.

In this guide, I’ll walk you through the seven essential steps to cultivate microgreens in soil, a process simpler than you might think.

From the selection of seeds to the harvest, I’ll share the secrets and tips that turned my green dream into a reality. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a curious newbie, this guide promises to equip you with all you need to create your very own microgreen haven.

Understanding Microgreens

Assorted microgreens in various stages of growth

Microgreens, despite their tiny size, are a powerhouse of nutrients. These are the young, tender seedlings of edible greens that are harvested just after the seed leaves have developed.

And the best part? Growing microgreens indoors from the comfort of your home is quite simple.

Choosing the Right Seeds for Microgreens

Selecting the right seeds is the first step in your journey to grow your own microgreens.

After all, it’s the seeds that sprout into those lush, nutrient-packed greens. Bear in mind that any seed can be used to grow microgreens. Choosing organic, untreated seeds is advantageous for a healthy harvest.

Wondering where to find high-quality microgreen seeds? Some of my favourite sources for organic microgreen seeds are Grow Sow Greener and Sky Sprouts, which offer a wide range of seeds for you to choose from. So, whether you’re a fan of radish microgreens or can’t get enough of baby salad greens, you’re sure to find the perfect seed for your microgreen garden.

With so many microgreens varieties available, choosing your favourite can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, I’m here to help! If you’re new to the world of microgreens, I would recommend starting with some popular varieties like:

  • kale
  • broccoli
  • red cabbage
  • radish

Each of these microgreens offers a unique flavour and packs a nutritional punch, making them a great choice for beginners.

Kale and broccoli microgreens are mild and sweet, perfect for those who prefer a subtle flavour.

Looking for a spicy kick? Radish microgreens are your best bet.

And if you’re looking for a splash of colour, red cabbage microgreens are a must-try.

Don’t forget to experiment with herbs like basil and coriander, which pack all the flavour of fully grown herbs.

So, get creative and mix and match to find your favourite microgreens blend!

Need help deciding what to grow? Check out my Top Picks: Which Microgreens to Grow at Home for Nutrient-Packed Harvests

How To Grow Microgreens In Soil: Essential Materials

Once you’ve selected your seeds, the next step is to assemble the necessary materials for soil-based microgreen cultivation. While growing microgreens is a pretty straightforward process, having the right materials can make your journey even more enjoyable and successful.

You will need:

A Suitable Container. From seed trays and planting pots to repurposed baking dishes or fruit and vegetable punnets, the options are limitless!

A Dark Cover or Another Tray: During the early stages of germination, your seeds will need a dark, cosy environment. This cover will mimic the natural underground conditions and encourage sprouting

Good-Quality Potting Mix or Seed-Raising Mix, which provides your tiny plants with the necessary nutrients and moisture for optimal growth.

And of course, your microgreens will need a light source. While microgreens can grow in low light, they need at least 3-4 hours of natural sunlight a day for the best growth.

Container Options

When it comes to choosing the right container, microgreens are quite flexible. A variety of containers such as:

  • seed trays
  • planting pots
  • repurposed baking dishes
  • fruit/vegetable punnets

can be used to grow your microgreen seeds effectively.

However, if you’re looking for the best of the best, my favourites are these shallow trays, which are about 1” deep and have drainage holes. These trays are large enough for a substantial harvest of microgreens and provide just enough depth for your microgreens to grow.

On the other hand, if you prefer a more DIY approach, you can repurpose baking dishes or fruit and vegetable punnets by adding some drainage holes.

Keep in mind that you will need 2 trays: one with drainage holes and one without holes, to catch the water.

Potting Mix Selection

Choosing the right growing medium, such as a high-quality potting mix or seed-raising mix, can make all the difference in your microgreens’ growth.

Moisture is key when it comes to growing microgreens. A good-quality potting mix should retain moisture but not get soggy, providing your microgreens with a steady water supply for optimal germination and growth.

How about soil-less mediums? Check out our experiment to see how coco-coir compares to soil!

https://wildlybountifulgarden.co.uk/indoors/what-is-the-best-soil-for-microgreens

Step-by-Step Guide: How To Grow Microgreens in Soil

With your seeds and materials ready, it’s time to begin the growing process.

The process of growing your own microgreens involves several steps:

1. Soak Your Seeds (Optional but Beneficial)

For most seeds, this step can be skipped, but for bigger varieties such as sunflowers or peas, I highly recommend an overnight soak in warm water. This softens the outer shell, enhancing germination rates.

However, skip this step for seeds like basil or chia, which get gooey when wet.

2. Filling Your Container

Start by adding about 1 inch of your selected potting mix to your container or tray. I’ve found that pre-moistening the soil before sowing seeds works best. If you water post-sowing, it often leads to seed displacement and clustering.

It’s crucial to maintain a balance in the soil’s moisture – aim for dampness, not waterlogged. Overly wet conditions can lead to seed rot

3. Sowing Your Seeds

Sow the seeds in your prepared container. Spread them evenly on the soil.

You can distribute the seeds closely together, ensuring a dense planting, but be careful to prevent clusters of overlapping seeds.

There is no need to cover the seeds with a layer of soil or seed-raising mix.

4. Blackout Period

After sowing, your seeds need a period of darkness, much like they would get when buried in soil in traditional gardening.

To create darkness, cover your container or tray. You can use a lid if you have one, or another tray, effectively creating darkness to prohibit light from reaching the seeds.

I typically grow multiple trays at once and stack them on top of each other during this phase. To ensure full darkness, you can use a tea towel around your trays.

You then need to place a weight on top. The weight ensures constant seed-to-soil contact, crucial for optimal growth and germination. Interestingly, this weight encourages the seeds to anchor more firmly in the soil, fostering stronger, well-rooted plants. If you’re concerned about the seedlings’ ability to withstand this pressure, rest assured, they’re more resilient than they seem.

The duration of the blackout period varies depending on factors such as the microgreen variety, air and soil temperature, and moisture levels. Generally, a check-up after forty-eight hours is a good practice to assess germination and growth stages.

When the seedlings begin pushing the top off the tray, it’s a sign they’re ready to transition out of the blackout period. Initially, they may appear yellowish or white, but don’t worry – they’ll quickly green up once exposed to light.

5. Light It Up

Once your seeds have germinated, they’re ready for light. Place the container in a warm and well-lit area. This could be a sunny windowsill, or under a grow light.

6. Watering

As the microgreens grow, water them regularly to keep the soil moist, but not soggy.

There are two options for watering:

  • Spray water on top; or
  • Fill the bottom tray with water.

I personally prefer the second option as it’s quicker, doesn’t wet the leaves or disturb the seedlings, and brings water straight to the roots.

7. Harvesting

Following your dedication and patience, the most thrilling part of the microgreen cultivation process arrives: the harvest!

Microgreens are ready to be harvested when they’ve grown to between 2.5-10cm (1-3 inches) tall, like broccoli microgreens which should be at least an inch above the container.

To harvest, simply snip off the microgreens at soil level using a sharp pair of kitchen scissors.

Remember, once you cut them, most won’t regrow, so make sure you harvest only what you need for immediate use.

Rinse the harvested microgreens and enjoy them in salads, sandwiches, or as a garnish.

Storing Microgreens

Ideally, for optimum taste and nutrition, I would recommend harvesting only as much microgreens as you need and using them straight away. That’s the beauty of growing them at home!

If you do need to store them, here is the best way to proceed:

  1. Place them in an airtight container
  2. Put some dry paper towels between layers
  3. The paper towels will absorb excess moisture and prevent your microgreens from getting soggy and moldy.
  4. Stored this way, your microgreens will stay fresh and crisp in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Troubleshooting Common Microgreens Growing Issues

Although the process of growing microgreens is generally uncomplicated, you might stumble upon a few common issues. But don’t worry! With a little bit of troubleshooting, you can quickly address these problems and get your microgreens back on track.

If you’re facing poor germination, it might be due to factors such as the quality of your seeds, or inadequate humidity. Adjusting these factors can significantly improve germination.

If your microgreens are growing leggy, moving them closer to a light source or using grow lights can solve this problem.

And if you spot mold or mildew, ensuring proper ventilation and controlling the humidity can help prevent these issues.

Remember, every problem has a solution, and with a little bit of patience and care, you can grow healthy and thriving microgreens!

Summary

Growing your own microgreens at home is a simple, rewarding, and incredibly beneficial activity. Not only does it give you a regular supply of fresh, organic, and nutrient-dense greens, but it also allows you to experience the joy of growing your own food, even if you don’t have a garden.

Whether you’re a seasoned urban gardener or just starting your green journey, microgreens offer a perfect starting point.

So, why wait? Start your microgreen journey today and enjoy a harvest of fresh, flavorful, and nutrient-packed greens right from your home!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to soak microgreens before planting?

No, you don’t need to soak most microgreen seeds before planting – they can be spread as-is. However, if your microgreens have larger or harder seeds, such as peas and sunflowers, soaking them overnight may help speed up the germination process.

Do microgreens grow back after you cut them?

Sadly, no – most microgreens won’t regrow after cutting, as the plant’s seed typically only contains enough energy for one set of leaves. There is however one exception to this rule: pea microgreens can regrow!

Can you grow microgreens in regular soil?

You can grow microgreens in regular soil, but it is best to use a potting mix with a light texture to ensure good drainage. Mixes with vermiculite and perlite work best.

Can I grow microgreens from any type of seeds?

Yes, you can grow microgreens from any type of seeds, as long as they are untreated and suitable for growing in soil.