Would you like to be able to boost the nutritional value of your meals with ingredients grown right in your home? You may be surprised to learn just how easy it is to do! Microgreens are healthy and tasty plants that are simple to take from seed to harvest, even without an outdoor garden. These tiny edible plants can be grown indoors in just a few weeks. Microgreens allow you to grow your own greens in any season without much space or effort. We’ve put together a full guide to DIY microgreens to help you get started.
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are vegetables that are small in size, measuring about 2.5–7.5 cm in height. They’re baby plants that pack a high nutritional content, making them an ideal ingredient in salads, for use as a garnish, or even for healthy snacking. Add them to sandwiches, soups, smoothies, pasta dishes, and more.
They are similar to sprouts but differ because they have leaves and are harvested 7 to 21 days post-germination. Microgreens are also grown in soil. Their flavor is more intense than their mature counterparts because it’s much more concentrated. They’re also loaded with nutrients, so not only are they incredibly tasty, they’re a great source of vitamins of minerals, too. Microgreens are typically best eaten uncooked. In just a few weeks, you’ll have fresh baby greens ready to harvest.
There are many different veggies that can be grown as microgreens. Easy varieties to grow include:
Why Microgreens are so good for you
Microgreens contains numerous essential nutrients like zinc, potassium, magnesium, and iron. While each plant’s specific nutritional value varies, they all contain high concentrations of vitamins and minerals. They’re also rich in antioxidants and polyphenols. When compared to more mature plants, microgreens often have significantly higher nutrient levels.
We all know that eating vegetables and greens, in particular, are vital for a balanced diet and good overall health. Microgreens make it easy to get more greens into our diet in every season, and for cheap. While they can be purchased at the grocery store, they’re so simple and inexpensive to grow at home.
Click here to read more about the health benefits of Microgreens.
How to grow microgreens indoors
Now that you’ve discovered just how healthy and beneficial microgreens are, you’re probably eager to start growing them in your home. Luckily they’re very easy to prep, care for, and harvest. You can grow different varieties together in one container.
To get started growing DIY microgreens indoors, you need seeds. You’ll also need a container that can fit comfortably in an area that receives plenty of natural light. Any type of tray works well. Windowsills are an ideal spot for sunlight. Choose a south-facing sill if possible. If natural sunlight isn’t an option, you can use artificial light sources to grow your seeds.
For the container, you don’t need anything special or fancy. A simple plastic or metal tray will do the trick. Just be sure to choose a large enough size to accommodate your seeds. Your growing container should be a minimum of 5 centimeters deep. Be sure that it has drainage holes on the bottom to allow excess water to escape. This keeps the roots healthy and helps your plants to grow properly.
Materials needed to start growing microgreens at home:
- Seeds of your choice
- Suitable container with drainage holes
- Potting soil (avoid soil mixes that contain chemical fertilizers)
- Light source (ideally, natural sunlight)
- Water with spray bottle
How to plant your Microgreens
Once you’ve chosen your container and you have your seeds, you’re ready to get growing! Follow these simple steps:
- Add about 2 centimeters of potting soil to the bottom of your container, spreading it evenly in a layer. Moisten the soil slightly with a spray bottle.
- Gently flatten out the soil layer, taking care not to compress and compact it too much.
- Add your seeds by sprinkling them evenly across the soil. Again, gently press them into the soil.
- Next, add another layer of soil on top of the seeds. About 2 centimeters is all that’s needed. Give it moisture with a spray bottle to dampen the soil. For the first watering, you want it to be wet but not soaked.
How to care for Microgreens
Caring for your microgreens couldn’t be easier. Simply give them some water by misting with a spray bottle twice daily. Make sure that they’re receiving plenty of daytime sunlight, between 4 to 8 hours each day. If a warm and sunny South-facing window is available, place your container there. Be sure to rotate it daily so that all sides of the container receive direct sunlight.
If natural sunlight isn’t an option, you can use artificial light. You’ll need LED or fluorescent bulbs. Set up your container with seeds in an area where you can then hang the light about 10 centimeters above it.
You can cover your container after planting the seeds to create a humid environment that helps the seeds to sprout. Plastic wrap or a well-fitting plastic lid that provides space between the soil and the top will do the trick. Adding a cover is optional, but it can help in the initial stage of growth. Remove the cover after you see germination, which happens in about 3 days. At this stage, you simply need to mist them once or twice daily to keep the plant moist.
After just a few days your seeds will start to germinate. In less than a week you’ll see the leaves growing. Microgreens are ready to harvest in as little as 7 to 10 days. The fully grown plants will be about 5 centimeters high.
You can harvest your microgreens by gently pulling them out of the soil, or by cutting them off at the soil line with a sharp pair of scissors. Clipping with scissors is easier and less messy. You won’t have to worry about shaking off excess soil or allowing the soil to dry for a few days before harvesting. To wash the microgreens, submerge them in cool water. Rinse them off a few times and pat dry with a paper towel. You can eat them right away or store them for several days in the refrigerator.
Microgreens are so easy to grow at home; you may wonder why you hadn’t done it sooner! From seed to harvest, you simply need light, water, and a little patience. In just a few weeks you’ll be enjoying these delicious, nutritious edibles.