How to grow microgreens without soil?
A New Way to Get Food Are you interested in sustaining your own food source? Have you ever thought about growing your own microgreens? Why are microgreens so beneficial to the human palette and how could you endeavor in such an undertaking?
Microgreens are packed with nutrients and are rich in iron, zinc, potassium, copper and magnesium. All nutrients vital to the human body. Since microgreens have a concentrated nutrient count, they often have higher levels of vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. These nutritious agents are actually little seedlings from other plants. They are much smaller and add flavor and color to the plate and are very popular with fine dining.
As someone that is focused on health and wellness, I have taken an interest in this topic since microgreens can add a lot of value to my diet. I’ve been told they can easily be grown in a variety of locations which would not only be cost effective but also fun. Some common microgreens we are familiar with are beet leaves, cilantro, mustard and celery.
There are several ways for us to grow microgreens either with or without soil, at home and in a commercial setting. In the following pages you will find the following topics: how to grow microgreens hydroponically, how to grow microgreens at home and how to grow microgreens commercially.
Let’s get started!
List of Materials
To be successful, make sure you obtain the following materials:
LED grow Lights
pH test kit
There are multiple mediums people decide to use when growing microseeds. Some people use rockwool, burlap or paper towels, even a thin mat or capillary mat. Whatever you decide to use, it’s important that the growing medium is stable and durable throughout the harvesting and growing process.
I have also list out some other popular mediums people use which include the following:
Hemp growing mats
These are less messy but cost more money.
This option is more affordable and it’s made from natural minerals. Vermiculite is best known for water retention and could be a good option for growth but there is the possibility of flooding the microgreens so you would have to buy perlite to offset that from happening.
These pebbles can be reused. They provide excellent air filtration and circulation and allow for a strong setting for the roots. In order to make clay pebbles a pliable growing medium, the pebbles need to be fired in a kiln. This gives them durability.
This is the last and one of the cheapest options. You must take a bucket of water and add the coconut coir. Make sure you mix and stir well and let it sit for an hour between draining it out.
How to grow microgreens hydroponically
You first must prepare your water
The best type of water to use is rain or distilled water. If you use tap water, you should then let it sit for 24 hours or boil it to let go of any chlorine. Some people like to include additional nutrients which would have to be added at this step.
The pH balance of the water must be between 5.5 and 6.5. You need to make sure you test it correctly and if you need to lower the ph, you can use phosphoric acid. If you need to raise the pH you can utilize lime or wood ash.
Pick your growing medium
Make sure the medium fits the growing tray. Then dip your medium of choice in your clean water and/or nutrient solution. Let the excess water run off and then transfer it to the growing tray.
Add your seedlings
Spread your seedlings across the grow mat and once this is done take your spray bottle and mist the seeds you’ve just laid down. You can either spray the nutrient solution and/or clean water.
Cover your seedlings
Make sure your seeds are covered. The cover must be lightweight and lightproof.
Keep the seedlings covered
In order for the microgreens to germinate and sprout, you will need to keep the seedlings covered and keep them in the dark. The only times the cover should be off is when you are misting them with the clean water and nutrient solution.
You want to mist the microgreens every 12 hours so the easiest way to do this is set reminders on your phone. The amount of microgreens is going to determine the amount of time spent in the dark, but the average time to be in total darkness is 5 days.
Watch them grow!
Once the 5 days are up remove the cover to the seedlings and place them under a fluorescent light.
You should be watering the microgreens with small dosages of water directly into the tray rather than misting them. For best results, you should use the ph solution water or a dissolved hydrophobic remedy.
It’s harvesting time!
Once the microgreens hit 12 days, they are ready to be harvested. When you cut them out from the mat, make sure you cut them from their stem. Rinsing them may speed up the molding process so do not wash the microgreens. Simple dry them of any excess moisture and place in an airtight ziploc bag and then place in the refrigerator.
Eat and enjoy
This is where you can rinse the microgreens before consuming.
How to grow microgreens at home
Not everyone has the luxury of having an outside garden and space to grow microgreens hydroponically. So here are some easy steps to take to do this inside.
Find a container that can easily fit your growing medium
You can use a medium sized bowl either metal or plastic. The important step will be the medium you choose for the growing process.
Find something within the home like paper towel or a flour sieve and place that inside of the bowl
You could even use a strainer, but make sure the holes aren’t big enough for the seeds to seep through the material.
Pour tap water over the seeds and make sure the seeds aren’t fully immersed in the water.
Within a day or so you should start to see the seeds sprouting. You can use room temperature water.
Place the bowl on the windowsill or kitchen table to allow some sunlight to hit the seeds.
By the time you get to the 12th day, you should be able to harvest the seeds.
How to grow microgreens commercially
There are typically 3 ways for microgreens to be grown commercially. You can do this vertically, using hydroponics or doing a combination of the two.
We are going to focus on the hydroponics method. Scaling to a commercial level requires a number of different steps and directions.
Make sure you figure out the following:
Who is your customer?
This is important to decide first since you want to make sure you maximize your profit and choose the right market and avenue for producing earnings.
What is your farming method?
It would be smart to pick how you farm based on your experience. In this case, the vertical method is a more common method and requires less start up costs.
Where are you going to grow?
You are going to need to consider enough space for all of the equipment and make sure the space is temperature controlled. You will have to invest in a heater and/or fan. You also want to consider space for all of the trays and growing lights and easy access to water.
What microgreens are you going to use?
Best way to determine the type of microgreens to buy, you can reach out to customers to find out their preferences. That can help narrow down on your focus.
Once you have steps one through four figured out, step five is planting the seeds and step six is harvesting. This requires you to closely monitor the progress of the seedlings and make sure they are in the correct temperature, light and humidity. Remember, you want to maximize the growth environment for the seeds and create optimal growing conditions.
The microgreens should be harvested when they are at least 2 to 3 inches tall. Make sure you wash and dry the microgreens and then package in plastic bags or containers that can be stored in a cool, dark refrigerator.
Microgreens offer a lot of healthy and positive benefits. There are multiple ways to go about growing these seedlings so I hope you found a way and method that interests you as much as it brings joy to my life.
I didn’t believe that it would be possible to grow greens without soil. From my research, there are so many ways and materials we can use to grow like the burlap or paper towels. I also thought this was a high tech process that had many complex and intricate steps, but the process is very straight forward. I love that I can do this in the leisure of my home or do it on a bigger scale. I don’t think that I would ever do this commercially, but I have found that this method could be a great way to cut costs on groceries.
This has changed my perspective on eating and has expanded my options for food. I would like to hear your thoughts and read your comments on this topic. I have been working on changing my eating habits and finding a way to enjoy food. The process of food to table has been an enlightening experience that I wanted to share with the world.