I was checking my indoor garden recently. Long have I worked on aquaponics but to no avail. So I switched to microgreens. But can microgreens grow into plants or do you have to just eat them as is? Can you harvest then grow them to seed?
Yes, some microgreens like onions can keep growing after you harvest them into full plants. You can transplant them outside or grow them into full onions indoors. You can even let them go to seed and harvest your own microgreens seeds.
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Do Microgreens Regrow After Cutting?
Yes, microgreens can continue growing after cutting. However, there are a few key points:
- Growth always occurs from what’s called the apical meristem. That’s just a fancy biological name for the growing tip of the plant.
- There are always dormant cells in the axils of leaves that can quickly turn into active growing tips if you cut a plant above this.
- That said, if you always cut above the last set of leaves you can activate the tips, get them to branch and continue growing. Note – not true for grasses. See quote box below.
- Your microgreens will have maximum nutrition and delicate flavor with the first cut. Doing so will take away nutrition packed into the plant. They can pull more from the soil however, as they grow they will get tougher as the cell walls in the plants thicken up and prepare to support the plant as it grows older and taller.
- Lastly, use a deeper tray or pot. In between cuts your roots will grow deep digging for more minerals and fertilizer. You need to give them space to do this.
Tip – Grasses can be cut anywhere. Their growing tip is at the base of the plant not the tip of the shoot like most plants.
Some microgreens that can be harvested multiple times:
- Beans – Peas, Chickpeas, Fava Beans, Lentils
- Grasses – Wheat grass, Oats, Corn, Barley, Rice
What Happens If You Let Microgreens Grow?
If you let your microgreens keep growing you’ll be able to harvest them a few more times. Each time their flavor and texture will change. They’ll get more tough and possibly bitter.
You’ll want to experiment to see how many cuttings you can do before you stop liking the taste.
Also, you can even mature your microgreens into full grown plants. Microgreens by nature and way too closely packed. You’ll need to thin them out, put them in a deeper pot or outside, then grow to seed.
The easiest way to thin them is to cut the soil into smaller 3″x3″ squares. Then cut all the microgreens in that square to the base. You want to cut below the growing tips. Finally, plant this square in deeper soil, water, and grow to maturity.
Are Microgreens Just Baby Plants?
Baby salad greens take 4-6 weeks to mature starting from seed. You can grow them in small planters outside in the spring or fall and harvest up to 4 times before they bolt and go to seed. Each harvest is 2-3 weeks apart.
This is the exact same method you can do with microgreens however, you’ll harvest microgreens faster and they will be smaller and make less volume than the grow again baby salad green method.
Which Microgreens Can Grow Into Plants?
All microgreens can grow into plants if you separate out 3″x3″ chunks of microgreens with soil, thin each chunk down to 1 strong plant, then plant the chunk in a larger pot or in the garden outside.
You could even grow them to maturity in grow tent indoors if you have enough lighting. The main benefit of the grow tent is more control over humidity, temperature, and lighting plus the reflective walls maximize the energy your plants can get from the lights. They are far more effective than growing microgreens to maturity in just a windowsill.
How To Grow Microgreens, Harvest Them, Then Turn Them Into Plants For Seeds
To sum things up here’s the steps you’d follow if you want to get every last drop of use out of your microgreens. This will give you 2-3 harvests of microgreens plus seed to grow them again a few months down the line.
- Setup your microgreen growing areas. You’ll need trays, soil, shelving, lights (if indoors), and seeds. See our article on how to grow microgreens commercial for more complete steps.
- Start your seeds.
- Water daily. Not too much.
- Most microgreens will be ready in 2-3 weeks. Since you’ll be reharvesting you want them to show at least 2 sets of true leaves. The first set of leaves are call seed leaves. The second and third sets are true leaves. Wait for the third set.
- Cut the microgreens down to just above the first set of true leaves. In the axil of the true leaves is where the next set will grow.
- Harvest again in 2-3 weeks. Again, just cut the stems to just above the lowest set of leaves.
- Repeat 1-2 more times until the microgreens are too bitter or tough.
- Next you’ll let them go to seed. They should be well rooted by now.
- Cut the root and soil mass into 3″x3″ chunks.
- Separate them into their own pot or if outside, space them according to the type of plant for full maturity. See the back of the seed package for this.
- Water and let them go to seed. This could take anywhere from 2 months to 4+ months depending on the type of plant.
- Let the seeds mature. It’s beyond the scope of this article this article to cover all the ways you mature seeds. Lettuce takes much less time than corn for instance.
Watch the video below for quick tips on saving seeds.