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Effortless Greens: How to Grow Microgreens on Paper Towel In 7 No-Soil, No-Mess Steps (Quick & Simple)

how to grow microgreens on paper towels

Ever wondered how to grow microgreens on paper towels?

My journey began in a tiny student flat, where space was scarce, and the idea of bringing in bags of soil was a no-go. That’s when I discovered the magic of growing microgreens on paper towels. It’s a counterintuitive approach, yes, but incredibly effective.

Imagine this: you can have your lush indoor garden without any of the mess soil can bring! Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, I’m here to turn that daydream into your reality.

In this post, I’ll guide you through the exact steps to grow your microgreens on paper towels. You’ll learn how to cultivate a vibrant mini garden, minus the mess and hassle. Trust me, it’s easier than you think, and I’m excited to share this journey with you.

Where the Magic Happens: How To Grow Microgreens on Paper Towels

Ever wondered if you could grow your own little garden without the hassle of soil? Well, guess what? You absolutely can, and it’s surprisingly easy and mess-free!

This might come as a surprise. Don’t plants need nutrients from the soil to grow?

The Seed: Nature’s Little Powerhouse

They do! But the secret, and the beauty, of microgreens lies in their short growth cycle. Typically, microgreens are ready for harvest in just 10 to 14 days, right when their first true set of leaves emerge.

During this brief period, the seed itself provides all the necessary nutrients for the baby plant to flourish. Seeds are like mini treasure chests, packed with everything a plant needs to start its life. This characteristic makes it possible to grow them in a variety of soilless mediums.

Among these mediums, paper towels stand out as one of the easiest and most accessible options for growing microgreens. This method eliminates the need for soil, making it an incredibly clean and fuss-free approach. Alternatives like coconut coir are also popular choices for those seeking different soilless solutions.

What You’ll Need To Start

Let’s gather our gear for our microgreen growing adventure! You’ll be surprised how little you need to get started. Here’s a quick rundown of what you’ll need:

  1. Seeds: Pick your favourites! Radishes, arugula, basil, or maybe some mustard? The world is your oyster (or should I say garden?) when it comes to choosing microgreen seeds.
  2. Paper Towels: Yep, the regular ones you use in your kitchen. They’ll serve as the growing medium. Ideally, they should be unbleached, and not contain any dye or colouring.
  3. A Shallow Tray or Container: This can be anything from a baking tray to a take-out container. Just make sure it’s about 1-2 inches deep and has a lip to avoid spills.
  4. Spray Bottle: For gently watering your microgreens. You want to keep them moist, not swimming!
  5. A Cover or Another Tray: This will be used for the blackout phase, keeping your seeds snug and warm for better germination, mimicking natural conditions under the soil.
  6. Scissors: For harvesting your greens. Kitchen scissors are perfect for this.

And that’s pretty much it! No fancy equipment, no complicated tools. Just simple items that you probably already have at home. Next up, I’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of growing your microgreens

From Seed to Sprout: Your Step-by-Step Guide to Growing Microgreens on Paper Towels

Growing microgreens on paper towels is like a mini gardening adventure – simple, satisfying, and a little bit magical. Let me walk you through the steps to turn those tiny seeds into lush, nutritious greens.

Step 1: Choose Your Seeds

First things first, pick your seeds. Almost any herb or vegetable with edible leaves is game for microgreen growth. Think radishes, arugula, basil – the list goes on!

Step 2: Soak Your Seeds (Optional but Helpful)

This step is not a must, but it does give your seeds a head start. Soak your seeds in water for a few hours or overnight, depending on the variety. This soaking helps to soften the seed shell, boosting germination rates. But watch out for seeds like basil or chia that get all gooey when wet – you’ll want to skip soaking those.

Step 3: Sow Your Seeds on Paper Towels

Now, take a few paper towels, soak them, and squeeze out most of the water. Aim for damp, not dripping wet. Fold them to make a few layers and lay them in your container.

Spread your seeds evenly using a small spoon.

Remember, not too dry, not too wet – it’s all about balance to avoid drying out or mold issues.

Step 4: The Dark Phase

Place your seeded paper towels in a dark spot – it’s their little blackout phase. Resist the urge to peek too often!

Step 5: Daily Moisture Check

After a day, you might see some sprouts. Check daily to ensure the paper towels are moist. If dry, gently mist them with a spray bottle, but be gentle – you don’t want to disturb those tiny, forming roots.

Step 6: Light It Up

After about a week, your microgreens will be taller and sporting tiny leaves. Now, they’re ready for some light. This exposure will kickstart photosynthesis, turning them a vibrant green.

Move them to a well-lit area, like a windowsill. Continue to keep the paper towels moist.

Step 7: Harvest Time

After a day or two in the light, with deep green leaves, your microgreens are ready to harvest.

You can wait a few days more for larger greens, but don’t wait too long.

To harvest, you can either gently pull them from the paper towel or cut them off if you prefer not to eat the roots and seed hulls. Rinsing in cold water helps remove any loose hulls.

And there you have it! Fresh, homegrown microgreens, right from your kitchen. Simple, isn’t it? Give it a try, and you’ll be amazed at how easy and rewarding it is to grow these tiny but mighty greens.

Troubleshooting Common Microgreen Growing Issues

Growing microgreens is usually smooth sailing, but sometimes, you might hit a few bumps. Don’t worry, though – most problems have simple solutions. Here’s how to troubleshoot some common microgreen growing issues:

Dry or Dehydrated Microgreens

If your microgreens look wilted or dry, they’re probably thirsty. Ensure your paper towels are consistently moist. If they’ve dried out, give them a gentle mist with your spray bottle.

Overwatered and Soggy

On the flip side, too much water can drown your microgreens or lead to mold. If your paper towels are too wet, try to gently squeeze out excess water without disturbing the seeds. Let them air out a bit before re-covering.

Mold Growth

Mold loves damp, dark environments. If you see fuzzy growth, it’s likely due to too much moisture or poor air circulation. To prevent mold, keep the moisture level balanced and consider poking a few holes in your cover for airflow.

Uneven Growth

If some parts are growing faster than others, it might be due to uneven light or moisture distribution. Rotate your container daily to ensure even exposure to light and check for consistent dampness across the paper towel.

Pale or Yellowish Greens

This is a sign your microgreens need more light, especially if they’re past the blackout phase. Move them to a brighter spot, but avoid direct, harsh sunlight.

Slow Germination

Some seeds just take their time, but if germination is slower than expected, check the age and quality of your seeds. Also, ensure the environmental conditions are right – not too cold or too hot.

Growing microgreens is a learning experience. Each challenge is an opportunity to become a better indoor gardener. Keep experimenting, and you’ll find the sweet spot for your perfect microgreen harvest!

Pros and Cons of Growing Microgreens on Paper Towels

Pros of Growing Microgreens on Paper Towels

Pest-Free Environment: One of the biggest wins of using paper towels is avoiding unwanted guests. If you use garden soil, who knows what tiny critters might hitch a ride into your kitchen. Growing on paper towels keeps your microgreen garden bug-free and your kitchen 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 on paper towels, 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 paper towels can’t hold moisture as well as soil, 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.

Expert Tips for Success in Growing Microgreens on Paper Towels

Don’t Mistake Roots for Mold: Around day five, you might notice some white, fuzzy growth on your microgreens. But don’t hit the panic button yet! This is usually just the roots of the plants, not mold. So, breathe easy and keep growing.

Choose the Right Varieties: Not all microgreens are created equal, especially when it comes to growing them on paper towels. Opt for varieties with shallow root systems and thinner stalks, like lettuce or arugula. Heavier plants with thick stems, like sunflower or pea shoots, might not do as well in this setup.

Scale Matters: If you’re thinking of turning your microgreen hobby into a business, paper towels might not be your best bet. They work great on a small, home scale, but for commercial-level growing, soil is the way to go.

Patience Pays Off: Hold off on the harvest scissors for just a bit longer. If you pick your microgreens too soon, you’re just getting sprouts without the full microgreen benefits. Wait for those dark green leaves to develop fully to get the most out of your plants.

Give Them Room to Grow: When you’re setting up your microgreens, use a tall container. This gives you ample space to cover them for the blackout phase without squashing your delicate sprouts. It’s all about creating a comfy growth environment.


And there we have it, dear friends – a complete guide to growing microgreens on paper towels! It’s so simple, isn’t it?

Remember, every little step you take in growing your own food, even as small as microgreens, is worth it!

Now is the perfect time to start. Don’t wait for “someday” or “the right moment” – the magic begins the moment you sow that first seed. Imagine, in just a couple of weeks, you could be garnishing your meals with home-grown, nutrient-packed greens that you nurtured from a tiny seed. That’s the beauty of microgreen gardening: it’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s immensely rewarding.

Answering Common Questions

Can I Grow Any Type of Seed as a Microgreen?

Absolutely! Most vegetable or herb seeds can be transformed into microgreens. The key is to choose varieties that thrive in a small, shallow environment. Lettuce, arugula, and basil are great starters. Just remember, the larger the seed, the more challenging it might be on paper towels.

How Long Do Microgreens Take to Grow?

Microgreens are the sprinters of the plant world! Typically, they’ll be ready to harvest in about 10 to 14 days. This can vary slightly depending on the type of seed and growing conditions, but it’s a quick turnaround overall.

Do I Need Special Equipment to Grow Microgreens?

Not at all! That’s the beauty of this method. All you need are seeds, paper towels, a shallow tray, a spray bottle for water, and something to cover the seeds initially. It’s simple and accessible for everyone.

Is It Better to Grow Microgreens on Soil or Paper Towels?

Both methods have their merits. Soil can provide more nutrients and support larger seeds, but paper towels are cleaner, easier, and more suited for quick, small-scale growing. It really depends on your space, goals, and personal preference.

How Can I Tell if My Microgreens Need Water?

The paper towel method makes it easy to see if water is needed. If the towel feels dry to the touch, it’s time for a gentle misting. Remember, the goal is damp, not soaked.

Can I Reuse the Paper Towels for Another Batch of Microgreens?

Typically, paper towels are a one-time use medium for growing microgreens. After harvest, they’re usually too fragile and broken down to support another round of growth.

Are Microgreens Nutritious?

They sure are! Microgreens are packed with nutrients, often containing higher levels of vitamins and minerals than their fully-grown counterparts. They’re a tiny but mighty addition to any meal.

How Do I Harvest Microgreens Grown on Paper Towels?

Gently! You can either snip them with scissors just above the towel or carefully pull them out, roots and all. If you prefer not to eat the roots or seed hulls, rinsing them in water will help separate these parts.