A month of growing microgreens: what I have learned

My first month of farming is over, so I prepared a little recap of mistakes I made. As they say, every mistake is a lesson and every lesson is a step forward.

The time flies by fast and my first month of growing microgreens is over. During that period I have managed to set up two stations and test out various options, such as comparing LED lights versus regular sunlight and soil versus growing mats. I am still in testing phase and far from my dream microgreens production system, but would already like to point out few things to keep in mind when starting out.

Start small

I cannot stress this one enough. Even though I personally wrote this in my beginner’s guide, I still went big and failed miserably. The story is following: I tried to grow radish in a small plastic tray left over from a fruit bought in a supermarket and everything went fine. So then I moved to a much larger tray and results were perfect again. Blinded by this success I went straight to large tray again, this time with water cress, black mustard, and red beet – what can be different, right? Well, water cress and black mustard were decent, but the red beet just punished me for my impatience. After ten days I was left with a tray full of seeds and maybe 10 stems.

So once again, even for my own sake. Start small before moving on. Every plant needs different conditions, therefore educate yourself and get to know every plant and every method first. Even if you fail, just take notes, learn from your mistakes, put some time into your research and it will certainly pay off. There is no need to rush things.

Make the soil really flat

As you prepare the soil in your tray and flatten it out, in order to save your time, you should aim to have it flat – I mean really really flat. If you speed up this process, your seeds will find all lower points, pile up in there and then you have to spread them out evenly by hand, which can be very annoying. On the other side, you can build some kind of press in dimensions of your tray, from a piece of wood for example, and make everything much easier.

Water spray is not enough

For watering of my microgreens I used a water spray or mister all along. This has turned out to be a mistake, as I discovered that in the middle of my tray there was a mold (and yes, it was not a root hair). The water from the mister ended on leaves, creating very humid conditions, and without an air fan, it created an ideal situation for the mold. To prevent this, you want to switch to a watering can shortly after germination, using your other hand to expose the soil and water your tray this way. Also, with larger trays do not underestimate the benefits of the air fan.

Harvesting requires precision

When harvesting microgreens, you obviously want to get rid of any soil. You could either go and cut them all one by one (but I consider this option almost inhuman) or cut them in bunches (and then it is very likely that you will miss some soil on your plants and it will end up in the food). To avoid all of this, you should rinse and dry everything precisely. I made mistake with my first batch that I rinsed it but did not dry them properly, which caused them to get bad much faster. At the moment I am testing a few methods of drying and I will be sure to report all results in the future.

Double check everything

This one is a silly one. I am using an electrical outlet timer to turn on and off my LED lights. I had my first batch of radish microgreens germinated so it was time to move them under lights. I connect the lights, everything works as designed, so I leave it for a few days unattended. Turns out the outlet was set on without the program running, so the plant did not sleep for 3 days straight. It did not affect the result really, but you should consider that microgreens are probably the easiest to grow. Therefore always double check and test everything before trusting your system and leaving it to work on its own.