Microgreens are definitely the ‘in thing’ in today’s day and age. These young vegetable greens are becoming more popular because first of all, it’s nutritional and beautiful to garnish. And secondly, it’s very easy to grow them, without soil! Yes, you read it right. These baby greens don’t need soil whatsoever and can thrive on some basic supplies. So what are these supplies?
Today, I will take you to a detailed step-by-step guide tour to help you grow microgreens without soil- hydroponically. It’s easy, fun, and most importantly, clean! Yes, no longer will you have to go through the strenuous process of getting your hands dirty with soil, and the outcome will do wonders to your health as well.
Benefits of Growing Microgreens Hydroponically
Before delving into the ways to grow microgreens without soil, it’s important to know what its benefits are. After all, you can’t simply be growing microgreens just because everybody’s doing it. I have listed below a few of the benefits of hydroponically growing microgreens:
- You can grow microgreens throughout the year
- Microgreens don’t take up much space
- They are easy and don’t leave much of a mess
- You can grow them inside your home
- You won’t feel the pinch when buying supplies for growing microgreens hydroponically
What You’ll Need
Now that you’ve read about the benefits of growing microgreens without soil, I’m sure you’re all geared up to find out what’s next. Listed below are some of the basic necessities that need to be in place for you to start your experiment:
- Seeds: Of course, you can’t possibly grow anything without the seeds! But the most important thing you need to keep in mind is to buy organic seeds that are specific to growing microgreens. You can get your microgreen seeds from nurseries and even online retailers.
- Trays: You will definitely need a tray in order to grow your microgreens. You can use any tray which isn’t of much use at home. But you need to remember that the tray should be in perfect condition and thick without any holes in them.
- Growing medium: You will also need a medium in which you plan to grow your microgreens. I would suggest you go for coconut coir or grow pads as these are designed specifically for growing microgreens.
- Light: I’m sure you must have read about the process of photosynthesis and how light is important for plants to grow. Similarly, to grow microgreens hydroponically, it is essential to have a good source of light. You can purchase an LED grow light or even use sunlight if the room in which you grow your microgreens get ample sunlight. Check out our article on the color of light affecting plant growth!
- Strips or pH testing kit: The water you use to grow your baby plants might have a good pH level, but it’s always better to be sure. Getting a pH testing kit will ensure that your water’s pH level does not hamper the growth process of your microgreens. From my experience, the pH water level should be around 6. You can get your water tested and make adjustments accordingly.
- Nutrients: Your microgreens definitely need some nutrients in the water to survive. Some may suggest that nutrients are not necessary as they microgreens their nutrients from the seed itself. Believe me, having additional nutrients will definitely do no harm! You can opt for organic nutritional products that are made specifically for growing microgreens without soil.
- Spray bottle: Lastly, you will also require a spray bottle to water your baby greens. You need to make sure that you get a brand new bottle rather than one that has already been used.
Preparing the Growing Medium and Water
It’s not enough to just know what you’ll require if you don’t have an idea of how to go about using them. Below is a detailed instruction on how to prepare the growing medium and water for you to grow microgreens hydroponically.
Growing Medium Preparation
First things first, you need to make a decision on which growing medium you’d like to use. As I mentioned earlier, it’s best recommended to use coconut coir or grow pads. Although coconut coir is the safest bet as it’s cheap, growing pads are quite easy and simple to use with considerably less mess.
If you plan on using coconut coir, you’ll have to prepare the coir first by placing it in a bucket filled with water. I would suggest that you look at the instructions on the packet so you’ll get an idea of how much water to add. Stir the mixture well until its consistency is like soil. You can drain the excess water after 30 minutes or so, and voila, your medium is good to go!
There’s not much work involved if you plan on going with the second option, i.e., growing pads. All you have to do is taking the grow pads out of the packet and keep it moisturized. You can also spray the pads 10 to 20 times in order for it to stay wet and moist.
As previously mentioned, the most important thing you need to take care of while growing microgreens hydroponically is ensuring the pH level of water. Again, if the pH level is nowhere near 6, you can always adjust it by adding some baking soda or fresh lemon. Keep in mind that this adjustment is a one-time thing; you can store the water for future use in case there’s extra.
Steps to Grow Your Microgreens
Now, we’ve finally reached the most interesting part of the article- how to grow your microgreens. As promised, I have given below a step by step guide on how to grow your microgreens without soil. So, sit back, relax and let the information sink in!
- First, take the growing medium you prepared and place it in the tray. If the growing medium is coconut coir, spread the coir evenly on the tray. You need to make sure that the coir fills up to an inch. In case you opted for growing pads, you’ll have to place a single mat on to the tray.
- The next step is to place the seeds evenly on the tray. I would recommend two or three tablespoons. You can also check for instructions on the packet if you’re unsure. Again, make sure that the seeds are evenly spread. (I can’t stress enough on the word evenly!) If there are spots without seeds or there are too many seeds in one spot, the result will be of bad quality. Remember that since microgreens don’t take much time to grow, maybe a few weeks, they won’t take up much space for their growth.
- The third step after spreading the seeds is to moisturize them with the help of your sprayer. After this, take another moist tray to cover the tray with seeds. You need to make sure that you don’t completely cover the tray as it needs air to breathe. Now take the tray to a dark and warm room for it to germinate, which will take about 3-4 days. Remember to keep the tray moistened by spraying water 20 times every 12 hours.
- Once the germination process begins, take the tray out of the room to a room that has access to light so that it can start the photosynthesis process. Now, for the next 10 days, you can relieve your sprayer of its duty and get hold of a cup to pour water in the tray. After about 15-20 minutes, remove extra water from the tray. This is very crucial for the growth of your microgreens, so make sure to do this religiously!
- Step 5 – Now, all that’s left for you is to harvest the microgreens. But how do you make sure that it’s harvest time? Simple, just look out for true leaves which will be identical to future leaves. For harvesting, get a pair of scissors and make sure to cut the microgreens a little above the growing medium. This way, you won’t be cutting the roots of the baby greens.
Now that your microgreens are ready to eat, make sure to do so the same day. If not, you can store them in a cool place between some damp paper towels. This will keep the microgreens fresh for a few days. Remember, you don’t have to seal them in a bag because they need air to breathe.
So, there you go- a detailed guide to grow microgreens without soil. Interesting and fun, isn’t it? Not only does growing microgreens hydroponically keep you preoccupied, but it can also serve as a great hobby as well. And for those who have a green thumb, you’ll know exactly how it feels to see your babies grow! Now go ahead and get working and serve these delicious microgreens on your sandwich or burger. Trust me, nothing tastes better than greens which you grow right at your home!