Does anyone grow microgreens at home? I’ve been wanting to try it so I can stop buying greens at the store for salads. I know there’s tons of info online. I’ve tried a couple times but haven’t had very good success with it. Just looking for general advice or recommendations on what to do or not do.
I do and I don’t … I sprinkle a few mustard or lettuce seeds, etc … in a bare spot, in a flower pot, under a tree where the mulch is decaying…etc. Upland cress is a good spinach substitute.
There’s even the lowly dandelion you don’t have to plant. But, no I don’t do the greenhouse growing of microgreens.
Alot of the info I’ve seen seems tied to people selling seed and supplies. Some stuff geared towards small scale producers is imo very misleading. The seed they sell is crazy expensive from what I’ve seen, they should be taking extra precautions to avoid contamination with things like e coli, but it isn’t really clear how much more of a risk using dried peas you buy at the grocery is…
If you are looking to grow enough bulk for salads, pea and sunflower shoots seem to be the most productive. I don’t really care for sunflowers, and pea shoots can actually be grown past microgreen stage and harvested more than once. So that is where I’d start.
Small seeded things like lettuce are not going to produce much for you, they are more suited to garnish. Or maybe grow them longer to get to the baby stage.
That’s what I’ve noticed too. I’m really not sure if it’s actually worth getting the special trays and everything, or if I can just get by with regular 1020 trays. From my very limited experience it’s easy to overwater if you don’t have drainage holes. Then mold sets in. I’ve been wondering about some untreated food plot and cover crop seed. There’s lots of different options, and at a fraction of the price. Personally I don’t really care for lettuce, so other greens would be fine with me.
I used to do sunflower shoots at the farm where I work, and we started with full depth 1020 trays, the basket kind actually, lined with newspaper and filled a little more than halfway. But harvesting was awkward and slow, so I switched to 1020 slotted seed starting trays. We use them to germinate tomatos, so they were free to reuse, and the slots actually acted as a guide for the knife which made harvesting really fast.
But you could also line the trays with something sturdier like landscape fabric and lift them out of the tray to harvest.
I found bottom watering worked the best, so potting mix is less likely to get splashed up into the plants. Also, soaking the seed first helped them germinate uniformly and stacking the trays with sheets of plastic in betwern until the seeds begin to lift them up helped them drive roots downward. I imagine there are tricks to learn for each type.
Did you use anything special for seeds? I’ve tried just regular birdseed a few times with poor results. I may just feed it to the birds and try again with fresh seed.
Kale or radish seeds, also rape seeds, in bulk, are an economical source of microgreens.
The boss bought the seeds so I’m not sure exactly where they came from. It was someplace selling them for shoots though. There’s probably very little risk involved using birdseed, I can’t imagine farmers growing birdseed are spraying anything at all, but since we were growing to sell the seed had to be food grade.
One batch did have some dead seed that grew mold and messed everything up, so that might be your problem.
I’ve grown a fair variety of micros, including sunflower and pea seeds, plus lots of the smaller greens like cabbage, kohlrabi, broccoli, etc. For getting started, I recommend radish seeds - either daikon or Rambo red (or purple.). They are super easy, quick and a bit bigger so a good yield.
For full-sized grows, I drill some holes in the bottom of a spare 10x20 tray and then nest that in an un-drilled tray to make it easy to bottom water. I weight most seeds to get them to root in well first, usually just with a few bricks in a spare 10x20 tray on top of the surface sown seeds. I’ve used promix, but at some point, I’d like to try the jute or hemp mats to make it quick and easy, and less messy.
For smaller batches, I like using leftover takeout containers. Here is a sample of some radish micros grown in takeout containers which are a day or so from being ready to harvest. When they are mature, pop them in the fridge and they’ll practically stop growing and you can just cut what you want and keep them fresh. They key is getting into a rhythm if you want to keep a regular supply going.
They are very nutrient-dense, so adding a nice big handful to a sandwich, burger, etc. is a quick way to get some greens and nutrients. They really aren’t a replacement to a full salad for volume, although I’ve made a few salads with pea shoots, wild violet leaves and flowers and some small leaves and flowers from a daikon cover crop I had that was bolting in the spring. That was great, but not really repeatable on a regular basis.
I get most of my seeds from True Leaf Market, but you definitely get a discount for buying more at a time so it is best to buy at least a pound of seed at a time. For peas, I buy 5 pounds at a time.
I don’t do it continously, just for a few weeks at a time when I get motivated. It is a good use of the seed starting lights in winter.
What types of peas do you use? I tried them once and they were very fibrous, but they weren’t really culinary peas. I’ve looked at their site before, but can never make up my mind what to buy, or if I’m going to stick with it. Getting in the rhythm has been my problem too. Weighting them down might also solve some problems I’ve been having. Thanks!
Do you think you could grow “baby spinach” this way? Just not plant them as dense in 1020 trays. I guess it’d kind of be a manual hydroponics system.
I’ve used speckled and dunn peas, which both worked well. I’ve actually also used Austrian winter peas, which I bought to cover crop with and they worked pretty well. Weighting and then keeping them in the dark (doming they call it since you just put another tray upside down over the top) really helps them get nice and tall without getting fibrous. I think if you grow them a long time under lights they get fibrous, which is why if I do a second cut on peas by letting them grow out again I always cut them short or they get tough. I’ve actually pulled a lot of growing tips off the outside winter pea cover crops and they are nice and tender, so I do think it is something about growing too long under the lights where it is warmer that can lead to the tougher texture, but I haven’t tested it to be sure.
I also grew fava bean micros once and they were fun, but they were much less uniform and lower production so I didn’t order more seed when they were gone. They were the small seeded type, not the big beans.
I haven’t done it myself, but I do think you can do pretty well growing some fast growing asian greens under lights, particularly in hydro, if you like them. Bok Choy grows fast and you could also try Tatsoi and some of the others. I’m not so sure about Spinach, since their initial leaves are thin so you’d need to grow them for a while and I’ve had them bolt quickly under lights before they get any size.
Austrian winter peas are what I had too. I couldn’t remember off the top of my head what they were called. I grow most of my seeds in a room in my unfinished basement. The temps are in the 70s in the room. Maybe growing them in the other part of the basement would be better where the temps are in the 50s and 60s?
I just started doing some microgreens under my existing grow light in my basement. Right now I have 13 different varieties going, plus some onions to put out in the garden later in the year.
Micros seems like a bit of a silly way to grow greens. You use up a huge amount of seed for a small amount of salad. I don’t know if the nutrition is better than full size plants, but whatever that worked out to be you would still be doing pretty well by eating the full size veggies compared to corn chips or whatever else you might be eating.
That being said, it is kind of fun, and satisfying to see those little trays of forest like greens growing up, especially during winter. Because most of the energy for these baby plants is coming from their seeds, you don’t need as much light as you do for growing real plants. And they are ready very fast, unlike real plants.
I bought a pack of the heavy duty 5x5 trays from Bootstrap Farmer via amazon, and a couple of the same brand heavy duty 1020 trays. 8 of the 5x5 fit well in the 1020. These trays are fantastic; far more sturdy than the stuff I had from the garden center. I started out using a bag of potting soil I bought for the purpose, though I would like to try the media mats at some point. So far so good. A few little spots of mold that were suppressed by spraying diluted grapefruit seed extract. The sunflowers were the main thing that seems to want to be moldy. I am spritzing the top of the soil during germination, then switching to bottom watering once a day when they go under the ligtht.
To my eyes, seeds are pretty cheap if you buy them in pound quantity from True Leaf or Sprout People. Some of course are more costly than others, but there are some things that are quite cheap. I bought too many seeds because I was shopping when I was hungry - probably will take me years to get through it by which point the legumes and allium seeds will be pretty far degraded.
So far the radishes and cress have been the fastest to get up to eating size. Arugula and kohlrabi are in second place. Onions very slow and fenugreek pretty slow. Clover got eaten by something… slugs? I started peas, sunflowers, nasturtium last weekend and already the peas and sunflowers are far along. Basil and coriander doing nothing so far but they are supposed to be slow.
I do sprouts too, so it is interesting to compare micros with sprouts. Sprouts are on the whole easier to deal with since you don’t have the medium and don’t need special lights, etc. The micros are cute since they are straight, and you don’t have to dehull like you mostly have to with sprouts. Plus some things you can’t sprout in a jar like cress, arugula, basil, and the like.
Today we ate the first 5x5 of cress micros. This was all homemade falafel, flatbread, hummus, and tahini sauce. Topped with cherry tomato, crispy fried shallots, and microgreens. Awesome!