Did you know you can grow microgreens without soil? Let me introduce you to hydroponic gardening. Growing hydroponically simply means growing plants with water instead of using a growing medium like soil. This is a faster and easier way to grow microgreens without the need for continuous cleaning.
Growing hydroponically is typically done indoors all year round because the only necessary components for the survival of microgreens are water and light. Although there are certain microgreens that grow much better with soil.
These Microgreens Are:
Overall some microgreens will do better in a soil-based growing medium while most do well in a hydroponic grow.
How Hydroponic Growing Works
Instead of using soil to supply nutrients to the roots of the plant, you will instead use water.
No soil is needed for plants to grow because the water does all of the work. Water delivers nutrients to the plant cells by combining carbon dioxide from proper air circulation and hydrogen molecules, producing carbohydrates. The plant then uses these carbohydrates to nourish itself and all of its cells.
Simply put, hydroponic growing requires no soil and reduces maintenance. Using this method, you also eliminate the risks of pests invading your plants because you are indoors which automatically reduces your chance of them getting in. Also, pests and bacteria need soil to survive and multiply!
However, since you are growing indoors, you may need an LED grow light to successfully grow plants hydroponically.
The Benefits of Growing Microgreens Hydroponically
Growing microgreens hydroponically can be more beneficial than growing in soil. One reason for this is because soil can become contaminated with bacteria and mold. Although this is only an issue if you are growing in an environment that is over 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Typically at home growers will not experience this problem since you will be growing indoors where you have full control over the temperature and environment.
With that aside, there is an ascending market for microgreens, and more people are becoming aware that they can be grown at home. The easiest way to start growing them right now is with hydroponic methods.
Here Are 5 Benefits For Growing Microgreens Hydroponically:
1. Reduces The Cost of Growing
Instead of having to spend that extra money on soil, you can instead just use paper towels which are far more affordable and take up less space. You also use less water since most of it is just recycled back into the system.
2. Creates less mess for a cleaner harvest
Growing microgreens hydroponically is generally going to create less of a mess, as you don't need to worry about spilling soil throughout your house when cleaning the grow trays. Especially if you are growing on your kitchen counter or bedroom window!
3. You use less water which saves you time and money
When using a hydroponic method, you re-use the water in the growing tray. Pretty much the water is used in a cycle. Which typically only requires you to water microgreens just a few times throughout the entire grow.
4. You are more in control of watering, creating less chance for over/under-watering
Over/under-watering your soil is much more likely to happen than if you were to just use the same water from the beginning of the grow. Since you will be using mostly the same water throughout the entire grow you will not have to worry about over/underwatering.
5. They can be grown all year long
Growing microgreens hydroponically is typically done indoors all year round because the only necessary components for the survival of microgreens are water and light. You also have more control over the indoor temperature so you can provide the most ideal growing environment.
Supplies Needed For Growing Microgreens Hydroponically
Here is a list of essentials you are going to need to grow microgreens hydroponically. Growing microgreens hydroponically means that you’re growing them in a water-based environment. The only nutrients that the microgreens receive are going to come from the water instead of the soil. So here is what you are going to need:
You can purchase most seeds at farmer's markets and garden shops. Be sure to check the labeling to make sure the seeds are specifically called microgreens. I highly recommend True Leaf Market and Sprout House Seeds as they always have high-quality seeds.
2. Growing Medium
Even if you aren’t using soil, you need some sort of medium to hold the seeds in place as they sprout. These growing mediums are going to support the roots of the microgreens so they grow straight and tall. There are many different kinds of growing mediums to consider. Here are a few to consider:
Typically, coco coir is dried and packaged very tightly which requires you to add water to it. This will cause it to expand and become fluffy, making it seem much more than what it was initially. This is overall a great growing medium to use and it's not expensive.
Hemp Growing Mats
Hemp mats are easy to use and are generally less messy but are quite expensive compared to coco coir and other growing mediums.
Paper towels are great to use as you most likely already have some in your home. But be careful with what kind you use because if they contain inks or dyes that could contaminate your grow. So make sure to use Non-toxic paper towels that are free of dyes, inks, and fragrances. Here are some really good ones Here
3. Grow Tray
Grow trays are important in making sure your microgreens grow straight and tall. They keep the microgreens in a specific area so they don't grow all over the place. You can find many microgreen growing trays online at amazon or from your local garden shop. You can also buy a microgreen kit which will include everything you need.
4. Grow Light
At first, the seeds need to germinate, and at that point, you won't need a grow light. After 3-4 days, you'll need some grow lights to start the photosynthesis process. Consider buying LED grow lights or just use direct sunlight if you have a well-placed window.
5. Ph Testing Kit
PH kit for correcting the PH level of the water you will be using for the microgreens. Microgreens thrive at a PH of 6, and most tap water is at a PH of 7, so using this kit will help you adjust to the optimal PH level for growing.
6. Spray Bottle
You'll need a spray bottle filled with water to lightly mist your microgreens as needed. Make sure the bottle is cleaned thoroughly and if needed, purchase a new one from the store. These are cheap!
How To Grow Microgreens Hydroponically
Before you start growing microgreens hydroponically, make sure you have all of the required materials ready to go as this will make the growing process so much easier. Now let's move on to how to actually grow the microgreens.
Step 1. Balance The PH Of Your Water! ---
Microgreen seeds are sensitive to the PH of water. Microgreens thrive at a PH of 6. Most tap water is at a neutral PH of 7, so I highly recommend you buy a PH Kit to adjust the PH. Make sure to only water your crops with water you have balanced to an acceptable PH. It's also helpful to use filtered water to remove any chlorine from the water.
Step 2. Place Paper Towels In Your Grow Tray ---
Since we are growing hydroponically, soil is out of the equation. Instead, you can use paper towels double-folded and even grow mats if you prefer them. Although I recommend using paper towels as they are the less expensive option.
Step 3. Spread Your Seeds ---
Spread 2-3 tablespoons (or the amount shown in the directions) of your seeds evenly onto the paper towels. If the seeds are not spread evenly this could cause overcrowding and a few other problems. So make sure not to add too much or too little!
Step 4. Water And Cover Your Seeds ---
Spray your seeds with your water-filled spray bottle to get them nice and moisturized, cover them with anything that will prevent light from reaching them, but make sure there is still sufficient air circulation. Your newly sown seeds need humidity and dark to thrive. Set your tray in a place where it won’t get too hot, or too cold. 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal. This begins the germination process. Spray seeds about 15 times once every 10-12 hours.
Step 5. Uncover and Give Light ---
Your microgreens should be ready to uncover after 3 or 4 days (7 days for beet & cilantro). You can judge this by watching for when the baby leaves (cotyledons) of your microgreens first emerge and then waiting one more day. It is important to keep your microgreens in the dark for the first 3 to 4 days to force your microgreens to grow in the struggle for light. This will help you grow strong microgreens. Once you uncover the tray, make sure your microgreens get plenty of light.
I highly recommend you use LED grow lights. Direct sunlight, fluorescent, or incandescent lights are also good. If your microgreens angle for light, be sure to rotate the tray occasionally.
Step 6. Check Daily ---
Your microgreens should have the right balance of water from now till harvest. If necessary, replenish water by sprinkling or pouring water over the paper towels, avoiding the leaves as much as possible. Water below the paper towels of the growing tray so the roots of the microgreens can have enough water until harvest. Do not use the spray bottle anymore, as the spray bottle will increase the chances of mold growth.
Step 7. Time To Harvest ---
Most microgreens will be ready to harvest in just 10 days. Some microgreens can be harvested as early as 7 days. Most microgreens will not last past 14 or 15 days before they must be harvested. Move your trays to a cool, shady place. If your microgreens are harvested when it is too hot, they will wilt very quickly after harvesting. If harvested when cool (late evening, early morning), they will tend to stay fresh and crisp.
Step 8. How To Properly Harvest Microgreens ---
Use scissors to cut the microgreens directly from the paper towels. Think of it as giving your microgreens a haircut. Just cut about 2/3rds of an inch above the paper towels.
Step 9: Rinse & Dry –
Use a colander to rinse your microgreens thoroughly under cold water. Dry the microgreens completely by spreading over a towel or paper towels and air dry. Speed drying by using a fan on a slow setting. Cut microgreens are best if served right after drying, but can be stored loosely in a bowl in the refrigerator for several days. Do not try to refrigerate microgreens that are not completely dry.
Step 10. How To Properly Store Microgreens ---
After you harvest your microgreens, you might be wondering how you're going to store them. Unless you end up eating your entire harvest in one sitting you are going to want to keep them from going bad. Just simply place them loosely in a bowl or container and put them in the refrigerator.
As you can see, growing microgreens hydroponically is extremely easy and simple. All you really need is a couple of main supplies and you are good to go. There are many benefits to growing microgreens without soil, it's less messy, you save money, and it prevents mold growth.