Microgreens are basically just baby plants that are harvested when they stand only one to three inches tall at harvest time. They grow relatively fast and are usually ready in only one to two weeks which makes them popular plants to cultivate because you don’t’ have to wait a long time to reap the rewards. During the microgreens’ short lifespan, the plants don’t require a great deal of nutrition, so the growing medium is predominately used only for support. The tiny plants get their energy and nutrients from their initial seed-stage and then the short span of photosynthesis.
Best Microgreens Growing Medium for Microgreens
You have two options when it comes to growing microgreens: soil or hydroponics. Nowadays, growing microgreens in small trays using mats has become an immensely popular option instead of using soil which can become messy. However, in this article, we will explore both options.
Soil Choices: Organic is Best
For centuries, people have used soil to grow microgreens. Choose an organic potting soil for best results. The potting soil should be sterile, so you don’t have to worry about pests, fungus, or other problems. When you purchase a commercial potting soil, you don’t even have to worry about adding nutrients to the mixture because such formulas are usually rich in hummus. Soil quality does matter because the soil is one of the things that contribute to the outstanding color of microgreens and the visual helps to make them even more appetizing.
When picking out soil, choose soil that provides high moisture retention to offer stability. Also, if the soil is too coarse then the tiny microgreens won’t be able to grow through the rough texture easily. A fine soil allows lets the relatively weak plants push through the soil’s surface with ease.
Planting Microgreens in Soil
Place the potting soil in a 10 inch by 20-inch tray at a depth of one inch for optimum growth. Once planted in the soil, all you must do is water the microgreens and they will flourish. However, some growers do like to check the pH but typically, for most home growers, checking the pH is an unnecessary step.
Mixing Your Own Grow Medium
You can mix your own growing medium. A lot of growers like to experiment until they find their own perfect mixture. Always take into consideration the moisture retention abilities of whichever ingredients that you choose.
Mix your own grow medium options:
Use 50 percent peat moss with 50 percent perlite
Try a 60 percent mix of peat moss, 20 percent perlite, and 20 percent sand
Mix 50 percent coconut coir with 50 percent soil
Hydroponics for Microgreens
Hydroponics is a cultivation system that is soil-free and ideal for microgreens. In this section, we will explore the most popular growing mediums for microgreens.
Peat moss is a rich substance created from the decomposition of mosses and other prehistoric creatures that takes place in peat bogs around the world. Peat moss has impressive water retention combined with good drainage.
Nowadays, coco peat has become exceedingly popular in the gardening industry. It is environmentally friendly and peat moss is not. Peat moss depends on mining and the destruction of ancient peat bogs, but coco peat is made from the crushed shells of coconuts. Also, coco peat is reusable and unbelievably cheap compared to potting mixes. You use it in the same way that you use potting soil to grow microgreens. It offers fantastic support and good water retention. Unfortunately, just like with soil, coco peat is extremely messy. Also, before you can use it, it must undergo a dehydration process.
Using Growing Mats for Microgreens
Currently, growing mats are the number one option for cultivating microgreens. They are easy to use and not messy. Growing mats do cost a little more than if you mix your own growing medium but the ease of use is ideal.
Grow mats are fashioned from fibres like hemp, wood, textile, or coconut. It should have excellent water retention. Recently, after the legalization of cannabis, hemp mats have become increasingly popularly and are ideal. The water retention of a hemp mat is perfect for microgreens and provide the right amount of support for the tender plants. You can purchase them in the 10 inches by 20-inch size which fits well into the trays.
Burlap for Microgreens
Old-fashioned burlap is a woven fabric that’s made from the jute plant, which is also used to make nets, ropes, and other products. The burlap acts like a hydroponic mat. This is not the ideal grow medium for microgreens if you are a beginner but for someone with experience then it does function. You can grow wheatgrass or pea shoots easily in burlap placed in a 10 inch by 20-inch tray.
Biostrate is a new kid on the block that many hydroponic growers are falling in love with. The substance is pH balanced, lightweight and biodegradable. Some users complain that it dries out quickly, so you’ll have to remain vigilant.
Vermiculite is a mineral that is naturally mined from the earth. When heated, it starts to expand. It has a neutral pH, is sterile and mold resistant. Yes, vermiculate is an additive in many soils but it can also be used alone for hydroponic growth. It retains water well and even adds small amounts of potassium, magnesium, and other minerals to the water for the microgreens.
A man-made material, rockwool is created by combining basalt with chalk. The formula is then heated to about 3,000 degrees Fahrenheit until it creates thin fibers. The fibers are often used in the manufacture of insulation. However, nowadays it is a popular hydroponic growing medium.
Types of Microgreens
There are a lot of microgreens that you can grow. Choose from leafy vegetables, herbs, salad greens or edible flowers. Popular choices include kale, chia, mustard greens, broccoli, or cauliflower. Cilantro, red cabbage, and amaranth are loaded with vitamin C, vitamin K, ascorbic acid, tocopherols, carotenoids, and vitamin E.
Benefits of Microgreens
Microgreens are little nutrient powerhouses. They provide essential nutrients and have wonderfully unique flavors that range from mild to robust to intense. Since you grow microgreens yourself, you can rest easy knowing that the small plants were grown with no additives or pesticides. Whatever growing medium for microgreens that you choose is sure to prove rewarding. The easy-to-care-for plants thrive with minimal care and are wonderfully rewarding because you can grow them indoors in limited space year-round.