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Unlock the Secrets: How to Grow Microgreens on Coconut Coir for a Sustainable Harvest (A Comprehensive Guide in 7 Steps)

how to grow microgreens on coconut coir

Gardening in tiny spaces? No soil, no problem! When I first heard of growing microgreens on coconut coir, it seemed almost too good to be true. Yet, here I am, a witness to the wonders of this soil-free marvel.

In my own journey from a cramped apartment dweller to an urban gardening enthusiast, I’ve learned a thing or two about making the most of limited space. The secret? Coconut coir. This humble by-product of coconuts has become my go-to medium for growing lush, nutritious microgreens.

In this post, I’ll unveil the art of using coconut coir to cultivate your microgreens. From choosing the right kind of coir to the final harvest, I’ll guide you through every step.

Why Coconut Coir?

  • Sustainability: Coconut coir is a by-product of the coconut industry, making it an eco-conscious choice.
  • Water Retention and Aeration: It holds moisture well while still allowing air to reach the roots, creating an ideal environment for microgreens.
  • Disease Resistance: Coconut coir is less prone to mold and other diseases, which can be a challenge with soil.
  • Ease of Use: It’s lightweight, easy to store, and simple to prepare. Plus, it’s less messy than soil, making it ideal for indoor gardening.

The Perks of Soil-less Microgreen Cultivation

Have you ever thought about growing your own little indoor garden, but felt overwhelmed by the mess of soil? Well, I’ve got some great news for you! You can grow without soil with mediums like coconut coir.

Coconut Coir, Your Plant’s New Best Friend: Imagine a medium that keeps your plants hydrated just right and gives them room to breathe. That’s coconut coir for you!

Clean and Green: Now, let’s talk cleanliness. If you’re anything like me, you love gardening but could do without the dirt trail in the house. Coconut coir is neat and tidy.

What is Coconut Coir?

Let’s get to know coconut coir, the star of our soil-less gardening show. This nifty material comes from the outer husk of coconuts – yep, the same ones that give us delicious coconut milk!

When these husks are processed, they leave behind a fibrous material called coir. It’s a fantastic example of using every part of a resource.

Coco Coir Bricks vs Loose: Pros and Cons

Coco Coir Bricks

  • Advantages: These bricks are super convenient. They’re compact, easy to store, and transport. When you’re ready to use them, just add water, and they expand into fluffy, plant-ready coir. It’s kind of like watching a magic trick.
  • Drawbacks: Sometimes, getting the water ratio just right can be tricky. Add too little, and the coir won’t expand enough. Too much, and you’ve got a soggy situation. It’s all about finding that sweet spot.

Loose Coco Coir

  • Benefits: Loose coir is ready to use right out of the bag – no water tricks needed. It’s perfect if you want to get planting without any prep time.
  • Considerations: While it’s convenient, loose coir can take up more storage space. And, it’s usually a bit pricier than the bricks.

How To Grow Microgreens on Coconut Coir: What You Will Need

Ready to start your microgreen journey with coconut coir? Let’s check what you need. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how few items are required to embark on this green adventure.

Seeds: Your choice here is wide open. Whether it’s the peppery zest of radishes, the fresh snap of rocket, the aromatic touch of basil, or the tang of mustard, pick what excites your taste buds. The variety you can grow is one of the joys of microgreen gardening.

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

Coconut Coir: This will be your growing medium. It comes either in bricks that expand when watered or loose in bags.

A Shallow Tray or Container: Any shallow container works – from baking trays to repurposed take-out containers. Aim for a depth of about 1-2 inches. If your container doesn’t have drainage holes, keep a careful eye on moisture levels.

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.

Remember, if your container has drainage holes, you will need an extra tray at the bottom to catch the water.

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.

That’s all the gear you need! Simple, right? With these items at hand, you’re all set to learn how to grow microgreens in coconut coir.

Step-by-Step Guide: How To Grow Microgreens on Coconut Coir

Now that we have prepared the coconut coir, it’s time to grow our microgreens!

1. Soak Your Seeds (Optional but Beneficial)

While this step isn’t required for most seeds, I do suggest soaking larger ones like sunflowers or peas. An overnight soak in warm water can really hasten their germination process.

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

2. Preparing Coco Coir Bricks for Planting

This brilliant video shows you how to expand a coconut coir brick!

Getting your coco coir bricks ready for planting is like prepping a cosy bed for your microgreens. Here’s how you can do it, step by simple step:

  1. Gather Your Supplies: You’ll need a coco coir brick, a large container (like a bucket or tub), and water. That’s it – simple, right?
  2. Measure Your Water: For one standard-sized brick, you’ll generally need about 4-5 liters of water. This can vary, so check the instructions on your brick for the best results.
  3. Soak the Brick: Place your coir brick in the container and pour the water over it. Now, watch the magic happen! The brick will start absorbing water and expand. It’s quite a sight – like a mini garden show!
  4. Break It Up: Once the brick has fully expanded, use your hands to break it apart and fluff it up. You want a nice, even consistency, with no large chunks.
  5. Check Moisture Level: Your goal is to get the coir moist but not soaking wet. Squeeze a handful – if a few drops of water come out, it’s perfect. If it’s too wet, let it dry out a bit.
  6. Ready for Planting: Now your coir is all set for those eager microgreen seeds. Spread it out in your growing tray to an even depth of about an inch or so, and you’re good to go.

3. Sowing Your Seeds

Prepare your container by spreading an even layer of moist coconut coir, about an inch deep. Then, evenly sprinkle your seeds over the coir. The goal is to maintain a balanced moisture level – not too dry and not too soggy, to avoid mold or drying out.

4. The Dark Phase

After sowing, your seeds need a dark phase, similar to being buried in the ground in traditional gardening. To replicate this darkness, simply cover your container or tray. A lid, another tray, or even wrapping a tea towel around the trays can block out the light effectively.

I often stack multiple trays during this blackout phase and add a weight on top. This pressure keeps the seeds in close contact with the soil, a key factor for ideal growth and germination. The added weight also helps seeds to embed more deeply into the soil, resulting in stronger, better-established plants. Don’t worry about the seedlings under the weight; they’re surprisingly tough.

It might be tempting but try not to check on them too often during this period.

The length of this blackout period can vary based on the type of microgreens, as well as the air and soil temperature, and moisture content. Checking the seeds after 48 hours is usually a good idea to see how they’re progressing.

Once you notice the seedlings lifting the cover of the tray, they are signaling the end of the blackout period. They might look pale at first, but they will quickly start to green up as soon as they’re exposed to light.

5. Light It Up

After your seeds sprout, they’re ready for light. Move them to a well-lit area, like a windowsill or beneath a grow light.

6. Watering

Regular watering is key for your growing microgreens, ensuring the soil stays moist without being waterlogged.

You can either mist water over the top or fill the bottom tray with water. I find the latter more efficient; it avoids wetting the leaves or unsettling the seedlings and delivers water directly to the roots.

7. Harvesting

The moment of reward in your microgreen growing journey is finally here: harvest time! Generally, microgreens are ready to harvest when they reach about 2.5-10cm (1-3 inches) in height. For example, broccoli microgreens should be about an inch above the container.

To harvest, gently pull them from the coir, or use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors to snip the microgreens at soil level.

Keep in mind, most microgreens don’t regrow after cutting, so it’s best to harvest only what you need.

After harvesting, give them a quick rinse and they’re ready to be added to salads, sandwiches, or as a tasty garnish.

Solving Typical Microgreen Growing Problems

Growing microgreens is fairly straightforward, yet sometimes you might encounter some challenges. No need to fret though, as these can often be resolved with some quick fixes.

Poor germination could be due to seed quality or not enough humidity. Tweaking these elements often leads to better results.

Leggy microgreens? They just need more light. Try bringing them closer to a light source or using grow lights for an easy fix.

Encountering mold or mildew? Improving air circulation and managing humidity levels are key to tackling this issue.

Keep in mind, there’s a solution to every gardening challenge. With some perseverance and care, you’ll be on your way to cultivating robust and healthy microgreens!

Embracing the Joy of Growing Microgreens on Coconut Coir

And there we have it – a complete journey from seed to harvest, all on the versatile and sustainable medium of coconut coir.

Isn’t it incredible how something as simple as a coconut by-product can transform into the foundation of a thriving microgreen garden?

With no need for soil, there’s nothing stopping you. Start your microgreen adventure today, and before you know it, you’ll be enjoying a plentiful harvest of nutritious greens!

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I Need to Fertilize My Microgreens Grown in Coconut Coir?

Generally, microgreens don’t require additional fertilizers, even if grown on coconut coir. The seed itself usually has enough nutrients to support the plant until the microgreen stage.

How Often Should I Water My Microgreens in Coconut Coir?

Water enough to keep the coir moist but not soggy. Check the moisture daily. If the top layer feels dry, give it a light misting.

Can I Reuse Coconut Coir After Harvesting Microgreens?

While it’s possible to reuse coconut coir, it’s best to start fresh for each batch of microgreens to prevent disease and ensure optimal growing conditions.

Are Microgreens Grown on Coconut Coir as Nutritious as Those Grown in Soil?

Yes, microgreens grown on coconut coir are just as nutritious. The key to their nutrition is in the seed itself and the short growing period.

Can Coconut Coir Be Used to Grow Other Plants?

Absolutely! Coconut coir is a versatile medium suitable for a variety of plants, especially those that thrive in well-draining and moisture-retentive substrates.

How Deep Should the Coconut Coir Layer Be for Growing Microgreens?

A layer about 1-2 inches deep is ideal. This depth provides enough support for the roots to anchor.

What’s the Best Way to Store Harvested Microgreens?

Keep them in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They usually stay fresh for up to a week. Avoid washing them until you’re ready to use them to maintain freshness.