An introduction to microgreens

Small, tasty and healthy greens, ideal for first time urban farmers. Let's take a deeper look at what you can grow in a matter of a few weeks with minimal maintenance and costs.

It might be only seen as a trend of high-end restaurants in past few years, the reality is that the usage of microgreens has begun almost three decades ago. Since then we could see an increasing number of varieties being produced and they are really easy to grow, so why not give it a shot yourself!

So what are microgreens?

Simply put, microgreens are greens, lettuces or herbs that are harvested relatively young, when they are only a few centimeters tall and only one to three weeks old. They are used for their specific variety of flavors, colors and textures, that can enhance your culinary delights. Aside from that, they are also very nutrient-dense, loaded with vitamins and minerals, on average 5 times richer than regular mature plants. You are typically eating them as a stem and first true leaves, added to salads, sandwiches, soups, juices or as garnishes. All of this combined with to some extend easy maintenance makes them an ideal candidate for your first food production experience!

What can I grow as a microgreen?

A lot of companies offer microgreen seed mixes which are great for first-timers, however if you feel a little bit adventurous, you can try experimenting with single type of seeds. You can use almost any salad green, lettuce or herb seeds, including:

  • amaranth
  • arugula
  • basil
  • beets
  • broccoli
  • cabbage
  • celery
  • chard
  • chervil
  • cilantro
  • kale
  • lettuce
  • mustard
  • parsley
  • peas
  • radish
  • spinach
  • sorrel
  • watercress
  • and many more

Even from the start you will need a bigger package of seeds than for a regular plant growing. Since microgreens are harvested so early, they require much less space in comparison to mature plants, and therefore they will be just fine with small gaps inbetween. Also I suggest starting with cheaper packs, to test and adjust all possible setups before focusing on a specific method. Some of them will need to be presoaked for better germination before planting, so be sure to educate yourself on your seeds beforehand.

How to grow them?

There are many available and well-documented techniques for growing microgreens. You will be able to find them based on different surrounding settings, nutrient sources and other attributes. I will be providing details to solutions that I have personal experience with in separate articles, however here are few common items which are needed for production of microgreens in general:

  • Seeds – get organic ones, you can order them anywhere online or maybe you will be able to find a local seller
  • Tray – plastic trays with grooves and decent height
  • Light source – you can work with natural sunlight or preferably buy some kind of grow lights (LED strips, bulbs, etc.) with electrical outlet timer
  • Water – no comment needed for this one I hope
  • Soil or growing medium – depends on whether you use soil or hydroponic method
  • Scissors and other accessories – to harvest and maintain your lovely microgreens

Once your system is prepared and seeds are planted, there is almost no demand for some major attention from your side. Other than checking a status of the growth, the microgreens with optimized process should be self-sufficient until the very end.

I highly recommend starting small before buying crazy lights and containers. You can easily take up with basic disposable plastic tray in which you get fruit or similar stuff, just to test out how the whole process goes. Moving to modular options is then much easier since you already know what to expect and scaling up from there is always a possibility.

Let’s do it!

In next articles we will be taking a detailed look at some specific solutions of microgreens production, so be sure to check the microgreens category to get more information and decide on what approach you will be taking. Or choose from the list of options we covered so far bellow: