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Intro to Growing Microgreens

Welcome to growing your own microgreens!  You can grow outdoors in warm seasons, or indoors all year long. As you can literally garden on your countertop, this is a great option if you have limited space. Microgreens are inexpensive, fun to grow, and cover a wide variety of exciting, nutrition-dense tastes.

Growing microgreens requires a learning process, just like anything. Be patient with yourself and know that you are developing a lifelong skill. It may take a couple of attempts to get the process right for your growing conditions, but soon you will be a pro..


Below are some basic definitions for key topics and concepts.

  • Sprouts – Sprouts are the first stage of a seed’s development and are generally grown without a growing medium (soil), but are sprouted and rinsed in a sprouting tray, jar, or bag. They are usually eaten soon after the seeds germinate and are delicious and crunchy.\
  • Microgreens – Microgreens are the second stage of a plant’s life, where roots establish themselves and the first leaves (called cotyledons) appear. Microgreens are harvested at this stage before the adult stage leaves emerge. Plants in the microgreen stage are typically at their peak of flavor intensity.
  • Baby Salad Greens – Baby salad greens of every variety are usually easier to grow in soil and are allowed to grow for a week or two beyond the microgreen stage when the adult leaves have emerged. Baby greens are harvested while they are still juvenile plants. The flavors are much closer to their full adult stage, and they have had ample opportunity to absorb more minerals from the soil.
  • Mucilaginous Seeds – Some micro greens seeds (like chia and basil) are mucilaginous, meaning that once exposed to water they develop a jelly-like coating on the exterior of the seed. This is normal for these types of seeds, but they need to be kept damp until the seedling has had a chance to emerge and establish itself.
  • Hydroponic Crops – Hydroponic growing is the cleanest and easiest way to grow microgreens. With only a few exceptions, most microgreens grow extremely well hydroponically.
  • Dirt Crops – If growing to the baby salad stage you may find them easier to grow in soil. Some microgreens perform better in soil. These include peas, sunflower, buckwheat, beets, cilantro, lentils, mung, adzuki , and others.

General Instructions for Growing Microgreens in Soil or Coco Coir - link when ready

General Instructions for Growing Microgreens on Hydroponic Mat - link when ready

Troubleshooting & Tips

Below are some general ideas and troubleshooting tips to help make your greens growing experience easier. Growing microgreens is fun and fairly easy but expect to have some failures in the process as you experiment with getting it just right.

  • Planting Too Thick – If you spread your seeds too thickly the microgreens will come in too dense and be susceptible to rot. If you feel like your greens in are coming in too thick, you can always thin out the crop by carefully plucking individual plants.
  • Planting Too Thin – For microgreens, this will make for a small, scraggly crop, but won’t cause any trouble.
  • Over Watering – Microgreens will thrive if the roots get the right mix of water and oxygen. Over-watering causes the root to not get enough oxygen and makes the crop susceptible to root diseases and can even result in the loss of a tray. Avoid any puddles that extend above the root line. Ideally, water should lay in the channels of the bottom of the tray.
  • Under Watering – Watch carefully for any signs of wilting. The grow pad should be kept fairly soggy for the full growth cycle. If the grow pad is merely damp, there is probably not enough water in the tray.
  • Re-cutting – Once harvested, micro greens will not re-grow. Dispose of the spent grow pads.
  • Rot – If you notice sections of rot in your tray it can be a sign of overwatering or sowing seeds too thickly. However, most of the time rot is an indication that your water is too alkaline (pH higher than 6.5). Make sure you pH balance your water or you will have weak crops. If you do have occurrences of rot, give the rotting area a wide berth at harvest.
  • Multiple Crop Trays – There is no problem in sowing multiple crops in the same tray, in fact, it’s a great idea! You can easily segregate your seeds into different sections of the same tray, as long as the harvest times are reasonably similar.
  • Temperature – Cold may slow down the growth rates of your micro greens. A nice warm spot will speed things up. Make sure however that your microgreens are always well-lit as light is more important than temperature.
  • Generally Weak Crop – If you baby your crop too much, it can make the crop weak. Microgreens should struggle a bit to survive. If they are not kept in the dark long enough, the result may be a weak-looking crop. If you are having trouble with weak crops, you can add a little stress to strengthen your crop. Instead of uncovering your crop and exposing to light after 4 or 5 days, take the tray you are using as a dome and flip it. Spray the underside of the tray to moisten it and lay it inside the growing tray so that the bottom of the tray rests on top of your seedlings. This will force your crop’s roots to penetrate the pad instead of snaking across it and grow much stronger to lift the tray and reach for the light. Leaving the tray on the crop in this manner for a day or two can really strengthen a weak crop.
  • Pale Crop – Consider using a stronger light source for your microgreens.
  • Mucilaginous Seeds – Mucilaginous seeds should be sown and cared for the same as any other seed. However, they may be more sensitive to drying out in the early stages of sprouting. Make sure they are misted and kept damp.
  • Presoaking – Some seed types will do better if pre-soaked. See notes for specific seeds on the reverse for indications. Usually, seeds that should be grown in soil will require a presoak. Presoak for the indicated time period in cold water.
  • Burned Crops – If you notice overly dry spots, a crop that looks like it has burn patches in it, or a crop that doesn’t seem to be doing well under the light, the crop might be getting too much light. Some crops like arugula, pak choi / boy choy, mustards, and turnips are more sensitive to light and can get burned. Increase the distance of your grow lights (or lower wattage). You can also decrease the amount of time your crop gets light.
  • Odor – It is not uncommon for the grow pad to give off a mild odor. Usually, this does not happen until the crop approaches about 10 days. This is one of the reasons we recommend harvesting at about 10 days, though a few days earlier or later is fine.