The Seven Steps to Microgreen Success

Posted: February 2, 2017

Growing microgreens is an easy year round activity that requires low input and super tasty outputs. This article will walk you through the seven steps for growing microgreens successfully at home. You’ll need a small amount of soil (I use an sterile, organic potting mix), some USDA Organic Seeds, and a growing container. Somewhere warm for germination and somewhere light for green and growth. Add water and you have everything you need for healthy winter (or summer) greens.

How to Grow Microgreen Soil

Step One: Good Quality Soil

Fill a tray with 1-1.5″ of good quality potting soil and tamp down with your hand or a flat piece of wood or cardboard. The container can be anything wide and shallow, from garden center bought to upcycled plastic salad boxes!

How to Grow Microgreen Sunflower Seeds

Step Two: Organic Seeds

Sow your seeds (lots of choices here: buckwheat, sunflower, salad greens and more!). Sprinkle the seeds evenly over the soil. Sow quite densely to get a good crop. Gently press the seeds into the soil to get good seed to soil contact (don’t bury them!). The density of sowing will be something you get a feel for as you practice, it really depends on how large you will let your microgreens get before harvesting.

How to Grow Microgreen Damp Paper Towel

Step Three: Water and Wrap

Lay damp paper towels over your seeds. This creates a moisture blanket to aid quick germination. Give your trays a good soaking using a sprayer or shower-header watering can. It is important that your seeds and soil stay moist for the germination stage. Note: you could cover with soil, but the paper towel is quick and easy and has the bonus that you can peek under to check your seeds progress.

how to Grow Microgreen Growing Container

Step Four: Cover and Wait

Cover your trays. This is where the salad boxes come in super useful: you can just put the lid back on! Garden centers also sell special clear lids. Either way, this helps speed germination by trapping heat and moisture.

Growing Organic Microgreens - Step 5 - Sunflower Sprouts

Step Five: Germination

Germination speed depends on many factors including seed type, heat and moisture. Keep peeking under the paper towel to check on the progress and make sure the soil doesn’t dry out. Once you see a good amount of seedlings popping up you are ready to remove the paper towel and expose the seedlings to light.

How To Grow Microgreen Lights Sunflower

Step Six: Light

Light will make your microgreens turn green and grow dense and healthy. A lack of light will force them to go thin and ‘leggy’ as they reach out to find light. A sunny windowsill or porch can be great locations. Grow lights are an option if there is no natural light. At this stage the plastic lid should be removed to allow air circulation, but take care to make sure the soil doesn’t fully dry out.

How to Grow Microgreen Harvest

Step Seven: Harvest

Microgreens can be harvested any different stages and this is largely personal choice. You certainly want to harvest them before they get to big because the amount of soil and space isn’t enough to keep the larger plants healthy. Once harvested they can be rinsed, dried gently with paper towels and stored in the refrigerator in a zip lock bag.

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Chris Smith

Community Coordinator and Communications at Sow True Seed
Chris Smith is an enthusiastic grower and permaculturalist from a green-thumbed family. He has immersed himself into the world of seed and southern growing. On his urban homestead, Chris is experimenting with landraces, selective seed saving, crop trials, grow outs and edible seed oils!

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8 responses to “The Seven Steps to Microgreen Success”

  1. Miki Jarvie says:

    Thanks so much for your educational video – we will certainly try our hand at growing microgreens.

  2. Susan says:

    This is like the sprouting I have done with alfalfa and some other seeds in a jar. I want to try it but I want to know if new soil and a new container is required for each grow? I know the containers can be washed. Just want to know if the soil can be reused.

    • Chris Smith says:

      You can wash and reuse the containers. I just use soap, but some use a dilute bleach solution. I would not reuse the soil: 1) the nutrients will be depleted and 2) it will no longer be sterile and mold could be an issue 3) the root network of microgreens can become very dense.

  3. Keri Gaddis says:

    I want to get more into this so thanks for the great video. LOVE your taste tester at the end!!

  4. Bijou says:

    Your daughter is adorable!!!❤

    My question is how are these different from sprouting? Is there more benefits to this then sprouting?

    Thank you.

    • Chris Smith says:

      The main difference between sprouting and microgreens is that sprouting is doing with just seeds and water and they are generally harvested pretty young, microgreens are grown in some kind of medium (in this case soil) and are able to get a little bigger prior to harvest. Some things, like sunflower seeds, are better suited to microgreens than sprouting. However many seeds can be easily grown as spouts or microgreens. Hope this helps!

  5. daisy says:

    Easy, simple tutorial. I’ll be giving this a go. Great to have greens all winter! Thank you to you and your taste tester!

  6. Donna says:

    Two questions:

    First- you MUST get seeds that say organic to be edible as a microgreen, correct? I heard that even organic seeds may be treated with organic products that may not make them directly edible…true or no?

    Second- Once you cut the seed leaves and stem, can the plant continue to grow? Does it grow another set of seed leaves?

    I sprout seeds (no soil) but eat them in their sprouting stage. I want to try some micro greens next.

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