Growing Microgreens At Home: A Complete Beginner’s Guide


Microgreen gardening is surprisingly simple, unlike traditional gardening, making it perfect for green thumbs and those who think they couldn’t grow a thing. I’ll show you how to grow and enjoy microgreens easily at home!

growing microgreens for beginners

In this beginner’s guide, I’ll walk you through everything microgreen, from selecting the best seeds to harvesting your vibrant, tasty greens.

Getting Started With Microgreens

Microgreens are like the sprinters of the gardening world – quick, easy, and ready to go in just a short time. Let’s get you set up to start your microgreen garden indoors.

To kick things off, you’ll need a few basic items. Here’s your shopping list:

Essential Supplies

  • Seeds: Look for seeds specifically labeled for microgreens. These are often sold in larger quantities, as you’ll be sowing them densely.
  • Growing Medium: A balanced seed starting mix is what I prefer for beginners. Make sure it’s sterile and holds moisture well. If you want to get a bit more advanced, see my complete guide on how to grow microgreens without soil.
  • Seed Trays: Shallow trays without individual cells work best. You don’t need deep pots since microgreens aren’t growing for long. The tray should have drainage holes and another tray below to collect excess water.
  • Spray Bottle: Gentle watering is key, so a spray bottle will do the trick for misting. I’ll cover my preferred bottom-watering method later on.
  • Scissors or Sharp Knife: For harvesting your microgreens cleanly and easily.
  • Grow Lights: To give your greens a consistent light source. I prefer wide-spectrum LEDs because they’re cheap and they work. A power bar with a timer is also great for keeping things consistent.
  • Fan: For giving a gentle breeze in your growing area.

Selecting The Right Location & Environment

Microgreens aren’t too fussy, but they do have a few preferences:

  • Light: They love light. A sunny windowsill can work, but it can be a challenge with inconsistency and temperature changes. So, grow lights are my go-to.
  • Temperature: Aim for around 18-24°C (65-75°F). Too hot or cold, and they won’t be at their best.
  • Air Circulation: A bit of air movement helps keep them healthy. But avoid strong drafts.

That’s your starting point. With these supplies and the right spot, you’re all set to grow a tiny, tasty garden of microgreens!

Choosing Your Microgreen Seeds

Now, let’s talk seeds. The variety you choose can spice up your salads, sandwiches, or even your morning omelet with a burst of flavor and color. Here are some popular picks and tips for getting the best microgreen garden seeds.

Popular Microgreen Varieties

  • Broccoli: They have a mild, slightly bitter taste and are a nutritional powerhouse.
  • Radish: Quick to sprout with a peppery taste.
  • Arugula: Known for its spicy, gourmet flavor.
  • Kale: Mild and slightly sweet, a crowd-pleaser.
  • Peas: Sweet and crunchy, excellent in salads or as a standalone snack.
  • Mustard: They add a spicy, tangy zing to dishes.
  • Cabbage: It has an earthy flavor and is packed with vitamins.

With these seven varieties, your microgreen garden is going to be diverse and delicious! Want more ideas? No problem, here is my guide about my favorite microgreens to grow.

Selecting Quality Seeds

  • Go for Organic: Organic seeds are free from synthetic chemicals and are often of higher quality. Some seeds are treated with fungicides. Stick to untreated ones for edible microgreens.
  • Check the Packaging Date: Fresher seeds generally have a higher germination rate.
  • Buy in Bulk: Since you’ll be sowing densely, buying in bulk is more economical.
  • Look for Microgreen-Specific Seeds: These are selected for traits ideal for microgreen growing, like flavor and growth rate.

How To Grow Microgreens Step-By-Step

Here’s your step-by-step guide to getting those seeds in the soil and sprouting.

Step 1: Prepare Your Trays

Fill your clean trays with about an inch of your growing medium. Flatten it lightly, but don’t compact it too much. You want the roots to have room to grow. Give it a light mist if the soil is dry.

preparing and packing soil in seed tray

Step 2: Sow Your Seeds

Spread the seeds evenly over the surface. You want a dense planting, but not so much that the seeds are piling on top of each other.

sowing microgreen seeds in tray

Your seed instructions should give you a density chart, but for simplicity, small seeds can be planted closer than larger seeds.

I like covering the surface evenly with a single layer of seeds with a tiny space between them.

Step 3: Lightly Cover the Seeds

Most seeds need darkness to germinate. Cover them lightly with another thin layer of soil. In my example, I’m not covering because these particular seeds don’t need to be covered.

Step 4: Water Gently

Use a spray bottle to moisten the seeds and soil. Be gentle to avoid disturbing the seeds.

watering sowed microgreen seeds in tray

Step 5: Cover the Trays

Use another tray or plastic cover to create a mini greenhouse effect. This keeps the humidity high and aids germination.

Step 6: Wait for Germination

Place your trays in a warm spot. Most microgreens will start to germinate in 3-7 days. Check daily and mist with water to keep the soil moist.

microgreens germinated ready for light

Step 7: Introduce Light

Once your seeds have sprouted and you see little green shoots (about 2 to 3cm tall), it’s time to introduce them to light.

sprouted microgreens placed under light

I like to start with 8 hours of light per day for the first week, then bump it up to 14 hours per day once they’ve adjusted. It’s going to take some experimenting, depending on your lighting setup.

Not sure about sprouting? Here’s a comparison between sprouts and microgreens and what to look for.

Step 8: Continue Watering

Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Watering from below by pouring water into the bottom tray and allowing the growing medium to soak it up can help prevent mold and disease.

Step 9: Harvest Time

In about 2-3 weeks, your microgreens should be ready to harvest. You’ll know they’re ready when they have developed their first true leaves.

beets microgreens grown ready to harvest

Caring For Your Microgreens

Let’s get into more about the best ways to water them and manage their light and temperature needs.

Watering Techniques & Frequency

  • How Often to Water: Microgreens need consistent moisture but don’t like to be waterlogged. Check the soil daily. If the top feels dry, it’s time to water.
  • Watering Technique: The best way to water microgreens is from below. Fill the bottom tray with water and let the growing medium soak it up. This method reduces the risk of mold and keeps the tiny stems and leaves dry.
  • Avoid Overwatering: Overwatering can lead to mold and disease. If you notice your soil is consistently soggy, reduce the amount of water or frequency. To dry the soil quickly, increase the air circulation in the room and not directly on delicate sprouts.

Managing Light & Temperature

  • Light Requirements: Microgreens need plenty of light once they’ve germinated. Aim for about 12-16 hours of light per day.
  • Rotate for Even Growth: If you don’t have enough light to cover your entire tray, rotate your trays every so often to ensure even growth. Plants grow towards light, and rotating them will keep them growing straight up.
  • Ideal Temperature: Keep your microgreens at a comfortable room temperature, ideally between 18-24°C (65-75°F). Extreme temperatures on either end will hinder their growth.

Harvesting & Using Your Microgreens

Harvesting microgreens is as satisfying as it gets. You get to reap the rewards of your care and effort with these tiny, nutrient-packed greens. Here is how to know when they’re ready, how to harvest them, and some tasty ways to use them in your meals.

When Are Microgreens Ready To Harvest?

  • Look for True Leaves: When your microgreens have developed their first set of true leaves, which appear after the initial seed leaves (cotyledons), they’re ready to harvest.
  • Height Check: Most microgreens will be ready when they are about 2-3 inches tall. This usually takes 2-3 weeks from planting.

Harvesting Techniques

harvesting microgreens cutting above soil line
  1. Clean Your Scissors or Knife: Make sure your cutting tool is clean to avoid introducing bacteria. Don’t use the scissors kicking around in your drawer that you use for everything. A decided cutting tool is best for this task.
  2. Cut Above the Soil Line: Gently hold a clump of microgreens and cut them above the soil line. This way, you take the leaves and stems but leave the roots behind for a second crop.
  3. Harvest What You Need: You can harvest the entire tray at once or just snip what you need and let the rest continue to grow.

Ideas For Using Microgreens

  • Salads: Add them to your salads for a nutrient boost and a fresh flavor.
  • Sandwiches and Wraps: Layer them in sandwiches or wraps for a crunchy, tasty addition.
  • Smoothies: Blend some into your morning smoothie.
  • Garnish: Use them to garnish soups, stews, or pasta dishes.
  • Eggs: Sprinkle some over scrambled eggs, omelets, or a frittata.
adding microgreens to sandwich

For more food ideas, head over to my guide on how to use and eat microgreens.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even the most attentive gardeners can run into issues with their microgreens. Don’t worry. Most problems have simple solutions. Let’s tackle some common troubles and how to prevent or fix them.

Common Problems

  • Mold Growth: Mold loves moisture. To prevent it, ensure good air circulation, avoid overwatering, and water from below. If you see mold, it’s best to start over with fresh soil, cleaned tools, and seeds to avoid health risks.
  • Poor Germination: This could be due to old seeds, incorrect temperature, or improper soil moisture. Make sure your seeds are fresh, the temperature is spot on, and the soil is consistently moist but not soggy.
  • Leggy, Weak Seedlings: This usually means not enough light. Make sure your microgreens are getting 12-16 hours of light daily. If you rely on natural light, a windowsill might not be enough, so consider using a grow light.

Pest Control & Disease Prevention

  1. Keep Everything Clean: Start with clean trays and tools. This helps prevent the introduction of pests and diseases. I use a solution of 1 part bleach and 9 parts distilled water to clean everything.
  2. Use Quality Soil: Once you get the hang of things, a sterile, soilless mix can reduce the risk of soil-borne diseases.
  3. Monitor Watering: Overwatering can lead to root rot and fungal diseases. Make sure your soil is moist but not wet.
  4. Watch for Pests: If you notice pests, like aphids or spider mites, a gentle spray of water or an application of mild organic insecticide can help. It’s also a good idea to figure out where they’re coming from. If your bag of soil is contaminated, save that for outside use and get something new for your microgreens.
  5. Proper Air Circulation: Use a small fan to help keep the air moving and reduce the risk of mold and fungal diseases.

Remember, most problems in gardening are learning opportunities. With each challenge, you become a more skilled and knowledgeable gardener.

Advancing Your Microgreen Gardening

As you get more comfortable with growing microgreens, you might want to branch out and experiment. There’s a lot of variety and methods to explore that can turn your microgreen gardening into an even more rewarding hobby.

advanced microgreen farm at home

Let’s look at how you can take your microgreen game to the next level.

Experimenting With Different Varieties & Growing Methods

  • Try New Varieties: Beyond the basics, there are exotic microgreens like amaranth, chervil, or mizuna. Each brings its own unique flavor and color.
  • Mix and Match: Create your own custom mix of seeds for a unique blend of flavors and textures.
  • Test Different Growing Mediums: Experiment with various types of soil, soilless mixes, or even hydroponic mats to see which works best for you and your microgreens.

Soil vs. Hydroponic Methods

Soil Growing:

  •   Pros: Easier to start with, more forgiving, and often results in stronger flavors.
  •   Cons: It can be messier and requires more attention to watering and potential soil-borne diseases.

Hydroponic Growing:

  •   Pros: Less mess, reduced risk of soil-borne diseases, and can offer faster growth rates.
  •   Cons: Requires more setup; some believe the flavors aren’t as robust as soil-grown microgreens.

Scaling Up Your Microgreen Production

  • Larger Trays: If space allows, use larger trays or multiple trays to grow more microgreens at once.
  • Optimize Your Space: Use shelving with grow lights to create a dedicated microgreen growing area.
  • Automate Watering: Consider a simple drip irrigation system for consistent watering, which is especially useful if you’re scaling up.

Remember, the key to advancing in microgreen gardening is to have fun and enjoy the process of learning and growing. You’ll find what works best for you and your space as you experiment.

In Summary

And there you have it – from the basics to becoming a more advanced microgreen gardener.

Microgreens are a fantastic place to start if you’ve been thinking about dabbling in gardening. They offer a low barrier to entry, quick results, and a high reward for your efforts.

Start small, experiment, and watch as these tiny greens make a big impact on your meals. Remember, every great gardener started with a single seed.

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