microgreens impress with their taste and colorful appearance. the cultivation of microgreens is not difficult at all and succeeds on almost any windowsill.
nowadays, trends often come to us from america and spill over into europe and germany. it's no different with microgreens: they are now conquering the upscale gastronomy sector here in germany, too, and are becoming increasingly popular with amateur gardeners. after all, you can grow these nutritious plants in miniature format in a particularly space-saving way.
what are microgreens?
microgreens are considered leafy vegetables, but they are actually sprouts of various vegetables. the cotyledons are always fully developed and there may be other leaves present. a wide variety of vegetables and herbs such as peas (pisum sativum), sunflowers (helianthus anuus), broccoli (brassica oleracea var. italica), radish (raphanus sativus), parsley (petroselinum crispum) and many others are used for microgreens seeds.
plants in their microgreen-form surprisingly have a higher nutrient density than in adult form, which means that smaller portion sizes yield the same nutritional benefit. the wide variety of microgreens add a diversity of benefits to your diet. we will show you how you can easily grow microgreens below.
microgreens are not only healthy and delicious, but also easy to grow. most of the materials needed to grow microgreens can be found in almost every household.
most microgreen species can be harvested after 7 - 21 days. to harvest, simply cut the microgreens just above the soil and eat them with the shoot. due to the ease of care and the fact that microgreens are high in nutritional value, microgreens are being grown by more and more people.
seeds or seed pads?
normal seeds, which are also planted in the garden, can also be used for growing microgreens. however, these are usually very expensive and for one tray of microgreens you need quite a lot of seeds. special microgreens seeds, which are offered in larger quantities and cheaper, can now also be found in some garden centers and hardware stores. for some microgreen species such as peas, sunflowers, or beans, you can also use the plant seeds that are actually intended for cooking. the important thing is that the seeds are not seasoned, roasted, cooked or otherwise processed. a wider selection is offered by specialized online stores. there you can also find seed pads - these are mats in which the seeds are already incorporated. the pads only need to be placed in a tray and watered. this way you don't need additional soil, but you have to spend a little more money. for more information on suitable microgreen seeds, see our special article.
tip: if you have leftover seeds from your own garden, you can also use them to grow microgreens.
suitable seed trays
almost any shallow tray is suitable for growing microgreens. it doesn't matter if it's an old casserole dish, a flower pot saucer or plastic trays in which fruit or vegetables were previously packed. of course, there are also special growing trays for microgreens, which make the cultivation a little easier.
grow microgreens with or without soil?
there are also many options when it comes to planting substrate. in addition to potting soil, such as our high-quality and certified organic plantura organic herb & seeding soil, hemp or coconut mats can also serve as a growing medium. however, these mats do not store water as well as potting soil and therefore need to be watered more frequently. alternatively, place several layers of kitchen paper in the growing tray and sow the seeds on it. if you use soil, the layer should be 3 to 4 cm high.
tip: the soil cannot be reused for microgreens after cultivation, because their roots partly release growth-inhibiting substances. however, you can spread the substrate over a large area in the bed or on the compost.
a few layers of kitchen paper can also be used as a substrate for microgreens
the right location
the suitable place for microgreens to thrive is on a warm, bright windowsill without direct sunlight. if you place the pot on a small pedestal for better air circulation, the microgreens have optimal site conditions. the optimum germination temperature is between 15 - 22 °c, depending on the plant species, so cultivation in apartments usually works well.
how much light do microgreens need? unlike sprouts, microgreens need light to develop fully. however, a particularly large amount of light is not necessary. if you want to grow microgreens on a regular basis or if there is not enough light, you can resort to led lamps for plants to provide enough light. for small quantities and the first experiments, a bright windowsill is usually enough.
step by step instructions
once you've found a suitable growing tray and seeds for microgreens, it's time to start sowing. here we have summarized a step-by-step guide for the successful cultivation of microgreens for you:
- fill the planter about 3 - 4 inches high with potting soil, like our plantura organic herb & seeding soil. alternatively, you can cut a hemp mat or several layers of kitchen paper to the size of the tray.
- it is best to water the substrate before sowing so that the seeds are not washed away. if soil is used, it should be watered vigorously. hemp mats can be placed in a bucket of water for a few minutes.
- now the microgreens seeds can be sown. the seeds here should be very close to each other, but the substrate should still be visible between them. the seeds should be distributed as evenly as possible. more detailed information about the seed quantity can often be found on the packaging of the seeds.
- afterwards, you should carefully press the microgreen seeds down a little.
- for better germination, cover the trays. this increases the humidity and the seeds germinate better. the best way to do this is to put two identical trays inside each other. the seeds are sown in the lower tray and the upper tray is placed directly on top to cover. with many species it is also useful to add some weight to the upper tray. this helps the young plants to find more support in the substrate.
- after 3 - 4 days, the cover is removed. by this time, most of the seeds should have germinated and the top tray should be somewhat lifted by the seedlings. without exposure to light, the plants will have a rather yellowish color. this is normal and changes very quickly when the plants are placed in the light.
- depending on the plant and substrate, microgreens need to be watered every 1 - 2 days. carefully pour some water into the tray until the soil is well moist again.
if the seeds are covered with a bowl, they germinate better
tip: large and hard-shelled seeds such as peas (pisum sativum) or sunflower seeds (helianthus annuus) should be soaked in water for one night before sowing. this accelerates germination because it washes out germination-inhibiting substances and activates the germination process by absorbing water.
watering microgreens properly
it only takes 7 - 21 days for most microgreens to be ready for harvest. however, even in this short period of time, the seedlings want to be carefully cared for. the only difficulty in growing them is finding the right amount of water: seedlings grow best in an evenly moist environment. dryness should be avoided. if it becomes permanently too wet for the seeds, they can begin to mold. fresh tap water that is not quite lukewarm is best. the frequency of watering depends on the type of plant and substrate and should be adjusted to it. the usual practice is to water microgreens every one to two days.
especially in the beginning, the microgreens need uniform moisture
seedlings are ready for harvest when cotyledons and sometimes the first true pairs of leaves have formed. harvesting involves cutting the plants about a finger's width above the substrate. a large pair of scissors or a sharp knife is sufficient for this purpose. however, do not harvest too much at once: since microgreens quickly begin to rot, they must be processed directly. so harvest only as needed.
microgreens can be easily harvested with scissors