Growing microgreens indoors is a simple process that doesn’t necessarily require green fingers.
Learn more about microgreens and how you can grow them. Growing microgreens indoors also has multiple benefits. They add nutrition and variety to your diet.
It is also a gratifying pastime, costs little, and is loads of fun.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are tiny vegetables that are in a new, immature stage of growth.
When you plant vegetables, grains, fruit, or herb seeds, you allow them to sprout and pick them after two to four weeks of growth.
Therefore, it is impossible to tell what they are other than for the seed name on the packets that you purchase at this stage.
Microgreens are miniature, edible plants that would become full-grown if you didn’t pick them. But, by choosing them as seedlings or sprouts, you gain extra nutrition from microgreens.
In addition, they are easy to grow at home, and you snip them for consumption once they have grown to about one or three inches in height.
You should pick your microgreens right above the root. By cutting them off at this level, you include the original true leaves of the first growth of the seed. You also get to munch on your microgreens’ first leaves, which are packed with flavor and nutrition.
Growing microgreens indoors is a straightforward process that doesn’t require green fingers, although they need care.
Microgreens are also known as vegetable confetti because they are so delicate and colorful. Many people add them to salads, sandwiches, pasta, and other meals for their flavor and high nutritious value.
When to plant them
Growing microgreens indoors is both easy and rewarding. Because indoor temperatures are typically more moderate than outdoors, growing microgreens indoors is feasible throughout the year.
If you’re serious about benefiting from the nutritional value of microgreens, you can also plant seasonal produce throughout the year or focus on the flavors you prefer.
Because you’ll be harvesting your mini vegetables, fruits, and other edible plants every two to four weeks, you can also create a lot of variety when growing microgreens indoors. Also, because you grow them indoors, it takes a lot less labor than preparing an outdoor vegetable garden.
Another reason why people enjoy growing microgreens indoors is that they take up little space.
For example, suppose you’re living in an apartment block or don’t have much garden space. In that case, growing microgreens is the perfect way to get in your daily recommended doses of various minerals and vitamins from these mini greens.
Another massive appeal of growing microgreens indoors is that they are incredibly low maintenance. Purchase seed trays and the appropriate soil for your microgreens and water them lightly every day, and you get to see the seeds sprouting quickly. This type of gardening is rewarding and fun, and it has a practical outcome.
Container or raised bed?
There are no strict rules for growing microgreens indoors. However, you can purchase special growing trays, which are just rectangular plastic containers. These growing trays measure about 10.12 x 20.5 x 2.37 inches.
You can also use the clamshells that stores use to package meats, confectionery, and other food items. Clamshells have a plastic container at the bottom with a transparent plastic lid.
When you use clamshells for growing microgreen indoors, they create their own little hothouse, which recycles condensation and keeps your plants moist all the time.
Clamshells and other similar plastic containers are excellent for recycling purposes to keep waste out of landfills. A third option is to purchase specific seed trays with drainage holes. Otherwise, you can simply punch a few drainage holes into recycled plastic containers to make your own.
Concerning whether to use containers or raised beds, the answer is “whatever works for you.” Typically, it is easier to maintain growing microgreens indoors when you place the trays above ground level.
You can prepare your trays and place these on tables or windowsills or any other area where you have space. For example, if you live in a small apartment with a balcony, you can set the trays outside on the ground.
Growing microgreens indoors in specially designed raised beds is another option. Using raised beds may make your mini vegetables easier to care for, instead of bending over for caring and cutting them.
You can grow microgreens outdoors, but the plants have more to contend with outdoors as the environment will be harsher. Also, the sprouts tend to grow slower, are slightly tougher, and are generally less tasty.
Growing microgreens indoors using recycled trays, special trays, or raised planters makes no difference. Your seeds only need soil and water to grow and don’t need sunlight.
Soil to use
Since you want to start growing microgreens indoors, it is worthwhile investing in excellent soil. There are several ways options when choosing suitable ground for your tiny vegetable garden.
Make your own potting soil mixture
Purchase ready-made soil mixes that are suitable for growing microgreens indoors
Purchase products and mix these to nurture your microgreens
1. Making your own potting soil
The ideal medium for growing microgreens indoors is to mix approximately 80% of organic material with 20% of perlite.
Ideal organic materials include:
You can purchase these items at a local nursery, including the perlite. If you decide to use compost, be sure that it is sterile and contains no fertilizers or organisms that can influence the growth of your microgreens.
2. Ready-made soil mixes
It is convenient and straightforward to grow microgreens indoors by purchasing ready-made soil mixtures.
If none of these mixtures are available, speak to a local plant nursery expert for advice on what soil combinations to use for growing your microgreens indoors. Whatever product you purchase, ensure that they have an OMRI listing and are sustainably sourced.
An OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listing is essential as it indicates that all the products are organic. Organic soil mediums or contents ensure that your microgreens can grow in a healthy environment, free of chemicals and other additives that can affect the nutrient content of your mini vegetables.
3. Mixing your own soil medium
If you decide to mix and match your soil medium by using various products, then think about how to make the mixture. The perfect soil composition for growing microgreens indoors means that the medium should retain water but allow oxygen to penetrate the soil.
The growth medium should also be organic and nutritious to support the healthy growth of your microgreens. One more issue is that the growth medium should have a neutral pH level.
Choose growing mediums that are also coarser than outdoor soil, which is perfect for growing plants indoors. Examples of products that match these requirements include
Greenhouse soil mediums often use a mixture of fine tree bark, partially cooked rice hulls, and peat perlite coir.
Peat moss from peat bogs which contains rotting organic plant matter
You can use perlite or limestone in the mixture to create a neutral pH level. Then add the coarser mixture to ensure excellent moisture retention and good airflow through the medium.
How often to water?
How often you water your microgreens depends on the climate. If the weather is cool (indoors or outdoors), you should be able to water your microgreens every second day safely.
If the weather is hot, give your microgreens water daily.
An excellent way to check whether your mini vegetables need water is to test the growing pad or soil with your finger. If the growth medium is dry, your microgreens need water.
You don’t have to add fertilizer to the soil with your first growth session unless you feel it’s necessary. If you want to enrich your soil mixture, use organic fertilizer from a nearby plant nursery.
Organic fertilizers contain natural, uncontaminated ingredients such as plant, animal, and rock matter. You can also purchase earthworm castings to naturally enrich the soil that you use for growing microgreens indoors.
Even if you don’t add organic fertilizer to your soil medium for the first growth, it is wise to use it for later seeds as these do extract nutrients from the soil.
Avoid using chemical fertilizers as these may improve microgreen growth, but they also add unwanted toxins to the soil.
Here are several pro tips to get the most from your new hobby of growing microgreens indoors:
Pro tip #1
Always sterilize growing trays before adding the soil.
Pro tip #2
Ensure that you always use sterilized soil for growing your microgreens.
Pro tip #3
Add earthworms to aerate your soil. If you’re squeamish about earthworms, purchase earthworm tea or castings to enrich the soil.
Pro tip #4
Save vegetable and fruit waste. Add the peels to a large container. Fill the container with water and leave to rest for a couple of days.
Use this mixture to water your microgreens daily. Change the water and peels every few days to prevent microorganisms from forming in the water that can harm your microgreens.
Pro tip #5
You can use organic, biodegradable growth pads for growing microgreens indoors.
These grow pads are hassle-free, but they can become expensive if you choose to use this method regularly. You can also only use these growth pads for a few harvests before they disintegrate, which is not sustainable in the long term.
Pro tip #6
Always use organic seeds when growing microgreens indoors.
Seeds purchased from mass-producing sources typically contain chemicals and other toxins that detract from organic food’s nutritious value.
Now that you know what it takes to grow microgreens indoors – you can start right away. Who knows?
Besides increasing your food source, nutritional intake, and having fun with this pastime–your hobby may even grow into a business.
Tyler C Rich is the founder and chief editor at TopsyGardening.com. An experienced gardener and a professionally trained agriculture development expert, Rich has worked in the gardening and landscaping industry for more than a few decades. Although he has retired, his spark for developing the best urban and indoor gardens has not faded a bit. He uses TopsyGardening.com as a platform to come across enthusiastic gardeners and share the unique insights he has acquired through years of experience. Rich is interested in aquaponics and technology apart from conventional gardening techniques.