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How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors
How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

If I was really on top of my game, I would have posted this tutorial back in the dead of winter when nothing was growing outside. Now, a lot of folks (us included) have greens popping out of the ground and the harvest of fresh veggies is upon us again. Yay!

So chances are, you probably don’t need a how-to guide to grow microgreens indoors right now. So, go ahead and pin this, and then set an alarm on your phone to go off sometime in November, k? Because I’m about to teach you how to grow microgreens indoors all winter long (or even all year long if you don’t have an outdoor space).

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

You might be asking, well what the heck is a microgreen? Well, a microgreen is the new, tender shoot of a vegetable plant. It’s what happens if you let a sprouted seed go a little bit further into growing, but don’t let it completely mature. These greens are tender, sweet, and insanely good for you—they are literally one of the healthiest veggies on the planet! Newly sprouted, tiny microgreens have up to 4o times the nutrient impact as their mature plant counterparts. 40 TIMES! Just a single example: microgreens from red cabbage seeds have 40 times more vitamin E and six times more vitamin C than fully-grown red cabbage. Crazy, right?

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

Microgreens make an awesome winter substitute for lettuce or other cooking greens—we like microgreen and sprout salads in the winter when our garden isn’t producing. You can also use them on sandwiches, in stir-fries, or in casseroles. And the best part is, they are insanely easy to grow indoors. Like, I promise you can do it. Even if you’ve killed stuff before. You can do it!

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How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

So, what do you need to get to grow microgreens? Not much, actually:

  • Microgreen Seeds: You can use almost any vegetable seed to grow microgreens (some are tastier than others, though), but a lot of companies offer special microgreen seed mixes that are a great option for first-timers. They have a nice variety of tastes, textures and nutrition. I really like the microgreen mixes from Johnny’s Seeds. If you don’t want to go with a mix, cilantro, kale, radishes, basil, and beets are all great seeds to start with.
  • Soil: Seed starting medium is your best bet, but honestly, you can grab just about any potting mix or garden soil from the store and have good luck. I’d personally steer clear of soils that have fertilizers mixed in—you don’t want those yucky chemicals in your greens! We make our own seed starting mix, but there are some really nice organic options available at most stores this time of year. I even saw an organic potting mix at my grocery store last week!
  • Tray: You’ll need something to grow microgreens in. We use regular seed starting trays—available at most garden centers and hardware stores—but honestly, you can use pretty much anything. These greens aren’t going to stay in them very long, so it doesn’t have to be anything special. A plastic tote or a galvanized tub or heck, even a baking dish!
  • Light Source: There are two ways of going about this—the natural way or the artificial way. For the natural way, all you need is a sunny window. Easy! Unless you have a cat, like we do, and then they will make that warm tray of soil their bed. So we do our microgreens under a fluorescent light in a cat-proof room. You don’t need any kind of special light or lightbulbs. Just get the cheapest fluorescent shop light you can find (we have this one) and outfit it with two regular fluorescent lightbulbs. They’ll try to tell you you need special full-spectrum light bulbs for your grow lights—at about four times the price—and they might make your greens grow a touch better, but not enough to warrant the price in my opinion. Hang the light about four inches above the table where you’ll set your tray.
  • Water: Duh. I recommend using a spray bottle for microgreens.
How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

First step is to fill up your tray with soil. Since these plants aren’t going to be in there very long (9-12 days), they won’t develop a very intricate root system, which means you don’t need a whole lot of soil. About two inches worth should be more than enough.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

Then you broadcast your seeds across the surface of the soil. No need to worry about getting it perfectly even or spaced out equally.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

You want to put a pretty thick coating down. Unlike when you’re growing a full, adult plant, you don’t have to worry about overcrowding with microgreens. Pack ’em in.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

Next, take a little more soil in your hand, and sprinkle it over the seeds. You’re just looking for light coverage here. Again, no need to be perfect. You don’t have to cover every seed exactly the same.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

Then take your hand and lightly press down all across the tray to really set the seeds into their new home.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

Last planting step: give ’em a good drink of water. The spray bottle is for later, now is the time to use a watering can or the mist option on your hose sprayer. You don’t want them swimming in water, but you do want them very, very damp.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

Then put your tray in your sunny spot and wait!

Or, if you are putting them under a grow light, place them directly under the light. You actually want the light to be almost touching the top of the tray (the light in this picture is actually a bit too high up).

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

If you’re trying to start your seeds in a particularly cool place, you might want to think about either cranking the heat for a few days while the seeds germinate, or use a seed starting mat. You can get seed starting mats from gardener’s supply stores for beaucoup dollars, or you can do what we do, and just use an old electric blanket under the tray. A heating pad works, too!

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

And then, you wait. A few times a day, give the tray a good spritzing with water. And if you see some of your microgreens growing in an irregular pattern, try rotating your tray every few days. The seeds closer to the light (this is especially true in a sunny window) might grow faster than the ones further away.

After about three days, you’ll see some seeds germinating. You’ll see two little circular leaves pop up—those are called the cotyledon—they are the extra food reserves for the seed to keep germinating.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

A few days later, you’ll see even more seed germinating, and then the true leaves starting to show. These are the ones that actually start looking like the plants you are used to, albeit really tiny, adorable versions.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

And then after a little over a week, you’ll have a whole tray full of beautiful microgreens. You can choose to harvest at any point after the true leaves show up.

I normally let mine go until about the 10 day mark, when the greens are about two inches tall.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

To harvest, you can either clip the greens with sharp kitchen scissors.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

Or do what I do, and pull out the greens and shake off the extra soil. You’ll need the soil to be extra dry to do it properly, so I stop watering a few days before I’m going to harvest. Then, on harvest day, pull up the greens, and shake of the excess soil.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

Then I do 3-4 wash cycles on the greens, making sure they are full submerged in cold water each time. Then spread them out on a towel and dry them off slightly (a salad spinner works, too). To store, I then wrap them in paper towels and place in an airtight container in the fridge.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

The soil can then be composted, and you can start all over again! Or, if you’re really on top of things, you can have multiple trays going at the same time. I’ve found that starting a tray each week ends up working out well for us—it takes us about a week to get through the harvest from one tray.

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

See, super easy, right? You can totally grow your own food! I promise. Happy growing!

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33 comments

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  • I’ll have to try doing this next winter. I have a perfect sunny window to do it in.

  • Ingunn SAYS

    Pinning this for future reference! Microgreens were part of the very first meal I puked up during pregnancy, but I was finally able to start eating them again this winter. Love them, and they make midwinter meals look so fresh and inviting.

  • Kellie SAYS

    This is such a great idea! Thanks for posting this! I’ll have to do this!

  • Georgia SAYS

    Perfect timing for those of us in the southern hemisphere heading into winter – thanks for sharing.

  • Katie SAYS

    This looks awesome, though I feel like I’d have to be more organized to fit this in. I’d probably get everything going then forget to harvest or something ridiculous like that.

    Thanks for the tutorial! Makes it seem much more do-able :)

  • Hattie SAYS

    You’re website has great content. But, the ads! There are so many, the page kept freezing to load the video at the bottom.

  • Amanda SAYS

    If using artificial light should the light be left on constantly? Or just during typical daylight hours?

  • Creat content! We grow microgreens out in California and are looking to assemble a microgreens kit with all of the items we use at our commercial facility to grow. We are looking for focus group attendees and would love some feedback as we build our product out. Any interest please sing up for our newsletter at urbanproduce.com or follow us on facebook @urbanproducellc. I’ll be doing a facebook live announcement when we are ready to start! Keep on growing!!!

  • Brad SAYS

    I was wondering if you have to change the soil after every harvest? How is that handled?
    Thank you!

  • I create my box for planting vegetables but I have no time to plant :(

    P/s: Thanks for tips and i remember that :)
    Sàn gỗ tự nhiên

  • The mistake i got is dont cover land above seeds then the vegetable can’t grow up

  • Miguel SAYS

    Can u reuse the soil?

  • Samantha SAYS

    Hi,

    I’d like to set this up in one of our university dining facilities, but the spot that is open isn’t nearby a window. Plenty of artificial light, but it’s ceiling and not direct. Would this work?

    Thanks,
    Samantha

    • Cassie SAYS

      You’ll probably struggle. If you use artificial lights, they need to be daylight bulbs, and they need to be within 1-2″ of the soil surface.

  • Mary Schlaff SAYS

    Question – I am planting in a clear acrylic “trough” container 3′ long to use as a decorative centerpiece on long tables. The containers do not have drainage. Should I line the bottom in small gravel first and then put the dirt down?

    • Trinka SAYS

      You won’t need the gravel due to the short time the greens will be in the trough. Just make sure you don’t overwater and you’re good

  • M^2 SAYS

    Is there any way to reproduce the greens without buying more seeds from the store?

  • Dr ham hawk SAYS

    Cassie I’m using t5 4ft 8bulb set up to start them. I have a seed starter plastic cover over them they haven’t sprouted like I hoped they would. Is other possible it’s too much light for them?

    • Cassie SAYS

      Nope, the light shouldn’t matter much during germination. The biggest factor to keep in mind is temperature. You need the soil to be warm for germination—I sometimes add a heating pad under my flats.

  • Amanda SAYS

    I’m wondering if the trays can be outside in sunny location when it’s warm (and bring inside in the evening).

  • Wendy SAYS

    Hello, if I cut them, can the roots be left in the soil to regrow again? Also, is this similar to sprouting? I am soaking my adzuki beans to let it germinate, thinking of transferring it to soil after a bud comes out. Hmmmm I’m a newbie in this. Thanks!

  • Andrea SAYS

    My room has big windows but doesn’t direct sun shining through since it faces NW and the houses are tall. I do get a clear view of the sky. Would this be enough light to grow the microgreens in?

  • Wow, it is simple and eazy to do it. I will try in next day

  • Matthew SAYS

    So question, if i use the scissors, do i need to replant, or can i nurse a new crop from my clipped greens

    • Julie @ Wholefully SAYS

      We’ve never tried to get a second crop out of them, but you could try! Let us know how it works out if you do!

  • Jace Perry SAYS

    Great post! Microgreen seeds do not need soil since all of their nutrients come directly from the seed itself. Soil also increases the chances of bacteria, etc… I recommend using a fiber dense grow medium instead.

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