Microgreens
Published March 21, 2022 by Nicole Burke

The Only Supplies You Really Need to Grow Microgreens at Home

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microgreens
easy plant to grow
indoor gardening
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microgreens

The Benefits of Growing Microgreens at Home

Have you been looking for the perfect plants to grow in your basement? Plants that you can grow year round, no matter if there's a chance of frost outside? Plants that aren't even affected by the weather at all? Plants that are super nutritious?

What about plants that are cheap to start yourself but that would cost you $10 to buy in a small amount at the farmers' market or grocery store? Plants that you can harvest right on your kitchen table without making a mess?

If you're saying yes, yes, and yes!, then microgreens are the perfect fit for you.

Growing microgreens was my salvation when I was living in Houston and missing my salad greens during the extreme heat of summer. Since moving to Chicago (which might as well be the Arctic, as far as I'm concerned), microgreens have given me little bursts of joy even in the deepest days of winter when nothing outside is green.

Since we're catching plants in the first stages of their growth, we can harvest microgreens in five to ten days. I'd say these little guys are the real fast food!

Not only can you grow microgreens just about anywhere and any time of year, they're also the easiest way for each of us to become a gardener.

You know those huge outdoor gardens overflowing with ripening fruit, draping herbs, and climbing vines? Well, they have tons of things to enjoy about them. But... they're also really hard to set up and maintain. So many of us think we need to start there, that if we can't grow tomatoes or eggplants, we're not real gardeners—when really, we can very easily begin to produce our own incredibly nutritious food with very little setup or skills required.

The best way to get started in the garden is actually indoors, with a simple setup of seeds, soil, water, and a little bit of light.

microgreens supplies

here's what you'll need

Full Supply List to Grow Microgreens

If you have enough space to have a kitchen sink, you have room to set up and start growing some microgreens. This type of gardening requires just a little bit of legwork to get started but then only a couple minutes of your attention each day after that.

You will need the following items:

  • a wide tray with drainage holes
  • a wide tray without drainage holes (big enough to encompass the tray that does have holes)
  • growing medium
  • water source
  • lots and lots of seeds
  • artificial light source
  • hand rake or small hoe to level soil
  • plant tags or labels
  • kitchen scissors
  • mycorrhizae (optional)
  • a small fan
microgreens trays

The Best Trays for Growing Microgreens at Home

You can begin with a very simple setup to grow microgreens and eventually graduate to something a bit more sophisticated to increase your production and keep your sprouts happier.

If it's your first time growing microgreens, you can start with materials you probably already have hanging out in a cabinet or junk drawer: simple plastic containers.

Once you've fallen in love with microgreens and determined to grow them every week, it's worth it to invest in trays designed for microgreens (or make your own). You'll need two trays: one with drainage holes and one without. Drainage holes are ideal because these seedlings really don't want their roots to be sitting in water for a long period of time.

The tray with drainage holes will be the top tray that holds the soil. Because microgreens have shallow roots, this tray only needs to be one to two inches deep. If you look at the trays I use, you might think they're too shallow to grow much of anything, but I've found that microgreens can thrive with just a little bit of soil. Also, you won't be able to reuse the soil you put in these trays (until after it has broken down in your composter), so shallow trays limit your soil usage to just what's needed.

The top tray will be placed inside the non-draining bottom tray (the tray without drainage holes) so that it can hold water.

microgreens

The Best Growing Medium for Microgreens

You'll fill your top tray with soil. People recommend all kinds of different growing mediums for microgreens; I use a simple organic seed starting mix, which is lighter and easier for young roots to push into than regular potting soil.

I try to avoid using non-renewable resources as much as possible in my garden. Most seed starting mixes I've found at the store have a peat moss base, which is not ideal. Other mixes have coco coir. There's some debate over which is more sustainable (peat moss or coco coir).

Combine your seed starting mix with water in a bowl—equal parts each by volume. You want your soil to be nice and moist before you spread it across your tray.

As I mentioned above, you will start over with fresh seed starting mix for each batch of microgreens. Your spent soil can go into your compost and be used later as nutrient-dense organic matter for your salad greens or vegetable garden.

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The Best Water Source for Growing Microgreens at home

We don't need anything fancy or complicated to water our little plant babies. I use a simple pitcher. I keep it filled with water and then set it aside to settle and become room temperature. I use this pitcher just for watering my microgreens. You can also use a small watering can or a spray bottle.

The Best Seeds for Growing Microgreens at Home

There are many big companies that sell packets labeled to be grown as microgreens. Let me clarify that there's nothing special about microgreens seeds. In other words, these are the same seeds you would buy to grow into a full-size plant. The only difference is that they'll sell you way more seeds in a packet marked for microgreens.

When you're growing microgreens, each seed represents one small green that you will harvest. This is not like a tomato plant that will produce dozens of fruit from one seed. It's a simple one to one ratio. So, if you buy a package with only 15 seeds inside, you're going to grow enough microgreens for a really sad little bowl.

Many different leafy greens and vegetables can be grown as microgreens. Experiment with different seeds for flavor or look for packs with a variety mix of seeds.

microgreens light source

The Best Artificial Light Source for Growing Microgreens at Home

Microgreens need at least four hours of strong, direct light per day to thrive.

Ambient light from a kitchen window works okay for growing microgreens, but it won't produce as consistent or reliable results as an artificial light source. Microgreens want the light very close to them and tend to grow leggier when the light is further away.

That means the best lighting situation includes artificial lights that can be raised or lowered toward the trays. My setup is a full-spectrum light that hangs from a shelving unit, and I recently purchased a new light source that can be clipped to the side of a table or shelf. The wire coils of its three wand lights allow for easy maneuverability over my growing trays.

You can create your own setup (I've seen some really functional uses of Ikea carts with added growing lights), but know that there are plenty of easy and relatively inexpensive done-for-you-systems to take advantage of.

Watch the 7-video series on microgreens

Gardenary 365 is a garden-centered community. Your Gardenary 365 subscription includes access to the 7-video series on microgreens. You'll also gain access to our complete Gardenary course library, including Salad School, Herb Garden Guide, and more!

the only supplies

Other Tools Needed for Growing Microgreens

-A small hand rake or gardening hoe will help you level the soil before scattering your microgreens seeds. If you're a baker, you could also use a rolling pin.

-Plant tags are necessary to remember which type of seed you planted where, especially if you're growing multiple varieties. You can buy plant tags, write on popsicle sticks, or label painter's tape and stick it to the side of the tray.

-Have a clean pair of kitchen scissors ready for the fun part—harvesting your baby greens.

-Adding mycorrhizae to your organic seed starting mix is optional. The fungal hyphae inside mycorrhizae aid the growing plant's ability to obtain water and nutrients from the surrounding soil.

-Finally, if you're growing your microgreens in a close space (for me, it's the basement), place a small fan nearby to increase air flow and prevent rot.

Explore our full microgreens supply list on Amazon.

microgreens

Once you've got your setup ready to go, here are the steps to grow your first batch of microgreens.

If you're looking for more info on microgreens, including step-by-step video tutorials, check out my guide to growing microgreens indoors year round, available through a Gardenary 365 subscription. I've created seven informative video tutorials covering everything from microgreens varieties to consider to how to tend and harvest your microgreens. This post is a summary of just one of the lessons you'll find inside Gardenary 365.

Happy gardening from my indoor kitchen garden to yours!

Watch the 7-video series on microgreens

Gardenary 365 is a garden-centered community. Your Gardenary 365 subscription includes access to the 7-video series on microgreens. You'll also gain access to our complete Gardenary course library, including Salad School, Herb Garden Guide, and more!

The Only Supplies You Really Need to Grow Microgreens at Home