Wondering, “what do I need to grow microgreens?” growing microgreens requires only a small number of supplies. Some of these items may already be in your home, while others will require a small investment.
This article will cover 11 items you’ll need, along with tips for each.
1.) Shallow Growing Trays
Shallow containers are used because of the minimal time microgreens spend within them. Standard 20 x 10-inch black plastic trays seem to function adequately.
These trays are frequently sold for roughly $3 per tray in places that offer gardening materials. You might ask a nearby nursery if they have any trays that would otherwise be thrown out.
Local nurseries receive small packs of annual flowers housed in the same size trays, especially in the spring, and find no use for them. This can save you hundreds of dollars in trays.
They are lightweight, reusable, stackable, and moderately robust. Stacking two together can still be utilized even after they start to break.
Another option is wood. They would function just as well if you were motivated to create your containers.
You could also use an old baking pan; all you would need to do is make a few drainage holes in the bottom. A shallow, portable, lightweight tray is all you need.
An additional choice is to use a shallow flower pot. When selecting a pot for your microgreens, there are a few things to consider.
Clay pots are widely available, but they can prevent germination because of their propensity to dry up rapidly and draw moisture from the soil.
Choose a wide shallow pot rather than a huge tall pot to increase the surface area for your growing greens and reduce needless excess soil use. As your yield would likely be lower than if you were using a standard tray, you might wish to utilize multiple pots.
Proper drainage is crucial no matter what material you choose—wood, plastic, or metal. One of the essentials for a plant to survive is drainage, despite being frequently underestimated.
It is crucial in a garden and even more critical for your trays. Plastic trays you purchase or gather will generally already have holes drilled into the bottoms. Make sure to cut slits or holes to let extra water drain if you are building your trays.
Your greens will have stunted growth, decay, and mold if there is inadequate drainage.
2.) High-Quality Soil
The soil is the foundation of every farm and garden, and microgreens are no different.
It’s crucial to choose suitable soil for growing microgreens. The biological and mineral interactions required for healthy, nutrient-rich plants are abundant in rich, fertile soil. Plants get all of their sustenance from the soil and water, except for a few components from the environment.
For other things, you may use lower-quality soil, but your microgreens generally need more. You will experience robust, even growth and an improved yield by using high-quality soil.
The yield per tray may not be as crucial for a home grower, but it is essential for a commercial producer. The yields you will get from your trays will often cover the cost of better soil.
It’s advised to some time perusing the selections at your neighborhood nursery or horticultural retailer.
Choose a few different brands of potting soil to take home and experiment with after speaking with the store owners. To ensure you know what you are buying, ensure the bags are labeled with the ingredients.
It would be best if you also aimed to make your soil using compost, worm castings, coir, etc.
You will require a tool to lay out a flat seed bed after you have filled your trays with soil. Some people cut a thick piece of cardboard into the shape of their trays when first trying to grow microgreens.
Cardboard will perform admirably in the short term, but weather and damp trays cause it to get soggy and destroyed over time. Cardboard is a fantastic alternative if you only need to seed a few trays at once, but you might need to replace it over time.
3.) Supply Of Microgreen Seeds
Another essential component of cultivating microgreens is high-quality seeds. Your seeds’ viability will be impacted by a number of factors, including seed source, age, handling, and storage.
If you plant 1,000 seeds, the difference between 95% and a germination rate of 50% is highly probable. When you put in the time and effort to sow your seeds and care for your trays, it might be upsetting to realize that only a portion of them germinate.
You must keep your seeds dry and cool while handling and storing them. Avoid extreme temperature and moisture changes. Be careful not to leave them in the sun or allow them to be in a summer rainstorm on hot, muggy days.
Your seeds will remain viable for a more extended time if you take good care of them. Here is a chart showing the average number of years some popular seeds remain viable:
|Average Years Seed is Viable
You can find helpful details about germination rate, seed variety, and seed age on your seed packets.
Your seeds will remain viable for two to five years, depending on the vegetable, unless preserved in a specific environment. Your ability to keep your seeds viable for an average amount of time will depend on how well you maintain them.
You’ll note that some companies sell organic and nonorganic kinds when you peruse seed catalogs.
While supporting small, regional, and organic seed suppliers is preferable, they are not always available or reasonably priced. Therefore, finding untreated seeds from reliable, customer-focused seed vendors is crucial.
Cultivating microgreens is unique to the need for seeds with a high germination rate that germinates simultaneously.
You need all of your seeds to “pop” simultaneously since harvesting the greens just one to two weeks after germination.
While some variations won’t bother a home grower, a commercial grower can find these variations annoying and problematic.
4.) Towels (Cloth or Paper)
Use paper or cotton towels instead of soil to cover your seedlings quickly and efficiently. Usually, soil would be sprinkled into a tray that had been sowed, just enough to cover the seeds.
Cloth towels are practical for home gardeners who have access to washing machines. We advise using a thin, light cotton cloth. It would be best to wash them frequently since mold and germs can grow on moist towels.
Paper towels have shown to be quite efficient in commercial operations.
If you grow multiple trays weekly, employing paper towels may be a superior option.
Paper towels are an easy fit for most systems because you can compost them and use them in vermiculture bins.
Remember to get unbleached natural paper towels since you don’t want to water bleach and other chemicals over your soil and seedlings when germinating.
Regardless of the towel you choose, its primary function is to act as a covering layer to keep your seeds warm and wet until they germinate.
5.) Watering Equipment
Some of the supplies you’ll need to water your greens may already be in your possession if you have a small garden or indoor plants. A garden hose and a sprayer with multiple settings will be necessary if growing outside.
Make sure you can change the spray’s intensity. The medium shower setting on most sprayers has shown to be the most efficient.
You will need a watering can if you plan to grow inside. Be sure it has a fitting that enables the water to sprinkle out rather than pour out in one continuous stream.
Airflow is crucial because the greens are being grown so closely together.
Avoid watering them so vigorously that they fall and mat. They will rot if this occurs because of the excess water and lack of air. If you see that your greens have fallen, you might try “fluffing” them by gently brushing them upright with your hand.
Being gentle but thorough while watering is the secret to success.
6.) Ph Meter
The pH scale measures a water’s acidity or alkalinity. When raising microgreens, a pH meter is a worthy purchase.
How effectively your greens can reach the nutrients in the soil will depend on the pH of your water.
These nutrients become locked up and unavailable to the plants if the pH is too low or high. The cost of meters ranges from $10 to $100. The more expensive meters are frequently digital and can be placed directly in the tested water, while the less costly versions rely on liquid solutions and color matching.
It cannot emphasize enough how valuable it is to monitor the pH of your water.
You need to experiment a little with chemistry to change the pH. To raise or lower pH, a variety of organic compounds are available.
For example, adding a little lemon juice to your water will quickly drop the pH (increase the acidity). Raising your pH (raising the alkalinity of your water) is accomplished by adding baking soda, powdered oyster shells, or powdered dolomite lime.
Monitoring your pH will pay off and produce great greens.
7.) Lids To Help With Germination
You will need to buy or create covers to cover your trays if you don’t have a greenhouse to grow your plants. As a result, temperature and moisture are maintained more constantly than if your germinating seeds were exposed to open air.
This is crucial in dry climates or during seasons when there is a more significant difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures.
If lids are not utilized, you might find that seed germination is slower, more uneven, and less consistent than in trays with covers. To have a good yield, the additional cost of lids is more than justified.
Any neighborhood nursery or horticultural supply shop should have your lids in stock.
You can find them online if they are not offered locally. Three or four dollars seems to be the going rate. Keep in mind that you need a lid that will fit your container.
Utilizing a standard-size tray has the benefit that fitting lids are simple to come by. Keep this in mind if you opt to use a flower pot or make your trays. You will need to make a separate cover if you use a different size or shape tray.
You might use a glass pane or plastic bag for this. If plastic lids are employed, keep them in the shade when not in use to avoid melting and plastic deformation. If a glass pane is utilized, keep the trays out of the sun’s direct rays to prevent overheating.
8.) Heat Mats
Heat mats can boost the germination process of any seed or add extra warmth for warm-weather crops like amaranth or basil.
Although frequently unnecessary, they are beneficial for seeds beginning in cooler locations.
Heat mats, which range in size and cost and are reasonably priced, can be purchased online or at nearby horticulture shops. Electricity is used to power heat mats, which gradually warm the ground from underneath.
9.) Harvesting Scissors
According to most growers, the best tool for harvesting microgreens is a pair of scissors.
It’s not a terrible idea to get a second pair only for harvesting; that way, they stay clean and sharp and make cutting simple.
For cutting various types and densities of greens, having a few different sizes of scissors can be helpful. Sharpness is critical in this situation. You have two options when your scissors lose their edge: replace them or sharpen the ones you already have.
The challenge with most manual sharpeners is maintaining a constant bevel angle when sharpening. It gets harder and harder to maintain a razor-sharp blade if the bevel angle is not kept constant over time.
You should use a sharpener that attaches to the rear of any size knife or scissor blade and enables you to maintain a steady angle when sharpening. Maintaining the sharpness of your blade is now automatically done.
Your greens’ lifetime depends partly on making a clean cut through the stem.
The longer they will hold, the less damage will be done to the cells during the harvest. When scissors are left to become dull, they begin to rip the greens’ stems rather than making a clean cut.
You might observe degradation and yellowing at the bottom of the stem where they were improperly chopped if they are kept for subsequent use.
Any small, normal home fan with a few settings will work fine for drying greens you intend to keep or sell.
You should pick one that either lays on the ground or has a head that can rotate to aim the light directly onto your drying greens. Avoid overdrying your delicate microgreens; choose a low to medium setting.
11.) Containers For Storage
Your harvested greens can be stored in a few different ways.
Use plastic clamshells or food-grade resealable bags if you intend to sell your greens to others.
Both of these are offered in significant quantities by numerous providers. Any bag or container that can be sealed will work for greens grown for home consumption. Like any delicate salad green, microgreens should be handled with care.
Davin is a jack-of-all-trades but has professional training and experience in various home and garden subjects. He leans on other experts when needed and edits and fact-checks all articles.