How to Grow Microgreens in Containers at Home
Growing your own micro-greens in containers at home is a fun indoor activity that both adults and kids will enjoy. For those of you who are unacquainted with the term, microgreens refer to the edible young leaves of a green leafy vegetable or herb, harvested and eaten just a few weeks after sowing, before they grow past their first seedling stage. Growing micro-greens indoors is not only a pastime for the summer months, but these tiny edible greens can be grown indoors at home any time of the year, including fall and winter, provided that you have a sunny windowsill that you can allot to your new indoor microgreen garden.
Once you are ready to grow your first micro-crop indoors, the following step-by-step instructions on how to grow microgreens in soil should help you grow a successful crop of crisp micro-sized greens that can be used in a wide range of dishes, both as a garnish and as a flavor element. As most micro-greens are harvested and cut only once, it is a good idea to start new crops at regular intervals to ensure a constant, year-round supply of fresh micro-greens.
Step 1: Buy Organic Seeds
Next, find a reputable supplier of organic seeds, and buy a packet of seeds. If available, choose seeds labeled "for use as microgreens" or "for sprouting". Also microgreen seed mixes as well as starter kits that include an assortment of microgreen seeds are great options for beginner indoor gardeners.
Step 2: Pre-Soak the Seeds if Necessary
Some micro-green seeds should be soaked overnight prior to sowing. The following chart can help you decide whether or not to soak your microgreen seeds. Soaking these seeds will speed up germination and increase germination rates of these seeds. Note that some small seeds may clump together when wet, so pre-soaking can make them hard to handle. If you notice seed clumps after soaking, a good trick is to dry the seeds with a paper towel before planting.
Pre-soak these seeds:
Don't pre-soak these:
*Mucilaginous seeds refer to seeds that produce gel sacks around themselves when they come into contact with water.
Step 3: Fill a Container with Soil
The next step in the microgreen growing process is to pick a pot, tray or another container for your micro-green "garden". An empty plastic take-out container with drainage holes punched in the bottom is a great option for those who are planning to grow microgreens on a small-scale at home. Fill the tray or container with organic potting soil, leaving about 1/2 inch from the soil surface to the rim of the container. Use your hand or a fork to level out the soil, being careful not to press too hard as too compact a seed bed can hinder plant growth.
Step 4: Sow the Seeds
It's now time to sow your micro-green seeds. Sprinkle the seeds – soaked or not soaked – over the potting soil, being mindful to spread them evenly. After sowing the seeds, sprinkle a thin layer of clump-free soil on top, and give it a light pressing.
Step 5: Select a Window Sill or Another Sunny Spot
Next, select a place for the take-out container (or whatever pot or tray you are using for growing your microgreens). For best results, we recommend placing the container on a sunny windowsill as microgreens need to get enough direct sunlight in order to yield a good crop. If you fear your microgreens may not get enough sunlight, you can also supplement natural light with compact fluorescent lights designed to stimulate plant growth.
Tip: During warm summer months, you can also take your indoor micro-green garden outside, provided that you have a sheltered, sunny spot where you can place the container.
Step 6: Keep the Soil Moist
Watering your microgreens is perhaps the most challenging part of growing microgreens indoors at home. The soil should be kept moist but not soaked. For best results, check the moisture level of the soil on a daily basis, and add water when the soil begins to dry. A hand sprayer filled with clean, pure water is a great tool for watering the soil, especially during the germination phase.
Once the seeds have germinated and grown small roots (typically after 2-4 days of sowing), you can also use bottom-watering to keep your indoor microgreen garden moist. Bottom-watering involves putting a wide but shallow tray under the container where you have planted your microgreens, and then filling the tray with water. The soil will start to absorb water immediately through the drainage holes you had poked in the bottom of the container. You can remove the water tray once the soil feels moist (but not overly wet).
Step 7: Harvest and Eat Your Microgreens
Most micro-greens are harvested when they are about 2 inches tall, usually around 1 to 3 weeks after sowing, depending on the type of microgreen. To harvest your micro-greens, use a sharp knife or kitchen scissors to cut the seedlings just above the soil surface. Note that in general, harvesting and cutting micro-greens twice does not work, so once you've cut your crop, you can toss the contents of the pot or container into the compost bin as you won't be getting additional harvests from that planting.
After cutting microgreens, use them in mixed salads, smoothies, sandwiches or cold soups. To reap the health benefits of microgreens, use them as soon as possible after harvest. This helps protect their nutritional properties, plus prevent these delicate miniature greens from wilting.