It is better to grow microgreens in soil rather than water. Microgreens cannot actually grow in water alone. There are however other alternatives to soil if you wish to experiment.
Microgreens are not too difficult to cultivate. Continue reading and in no time at all you should be enjoying your very own, nutritiously dense, salad greens.
Is Water Needed For Growing Microgreens?
Like almost every living plant, water is a vital ingredient in the growth of microgreens. In the initial planting stage, you will need to ensure that your seeds are adequately watered. Then you will need to continue to monitor moisture levels regularly throughout the growth stage, as often as every 12 hours.
So, I Can’t Grow Microgreens In Water?
You may have confused growing microgreens with sprouts, or the concept of ‘sprouting’. This is where seeds or legumes, such as mung beans or soybeans, are placed in water to grow, or germinate. Microgreens, however, need something more solid to attach their roots to. So please don’t place your microgreen seeds in a jar of water and expect them to grow!
Can I Grow Microgreens Hydroponically?
You may have been told you can grow microgreens without soil? It is probable that the person was referring to hydroponically grown microgreens. The term hydroponics basically refers to growing plants without soil. However, other materials, as you will read below, are required in place of soil.
What Are Some Soil Substitutes?
What is commonly referred to as a growing pad, or growing mat, can be used in place of soil. These mats can be made from a variety of different materials. Rockwool, coco peat, perlite and sand are all viable options according to numerous gardening experts. You will need to purchase one of these mediums, or similar if you are choosing to grow your microgreens hydroponically.
What Is The Role Of Water In Hydroponics?
Surprisingly, growing microgreens hydroponically actually requires less water than when growing them in soil. The reason being that the water used in hydroponic systems can be reused. Water may also be needed for pre-soaking some varieties. And of course, it will be required over the next 7-14 days as the microgreens mature and become ready for eating.
Do I Need A Special Type Of Water?
Because the plants won’t be able to get their nutrients from the soil, (if you’ve chosen the hydroponic option,) you may need to add fertilizer to the soil. Using a nutrient solution for the watering process is a popular option. Water with a pH level (think back to your early science classes) between 6 and 6.5 is optimal for microgreens.
Can I Use Regular Soil From The Garden?
If you are following the more traditional gardening method then yes, you can use soil straight from the garden. If you are going to get fancy though and use a store-bought product, make sure it is suitable for raising seeds. Some potting mixes are more designed for use with mature plants.
How Can I Prepare My Own Soil?
Microgreens need what is known as ‘airy soil’. This will enable their tiny roots to breath and can prevent the possibility of rotting. Taking the three major soil types; clay, sand and silt and mixing them together will provide the perfect environment for most varieties of microgreens. Try to avoid heavy clay soils and others that don’t drain well.
Are There Any Downsides To Using Soil?
One argument is that using soil creates a lot more mess, especially if you are creating your garden indoors. But isn’t mess part of the fun of gardening? It can also be easier to harvest your produce if grown hydroponically. You won’t need to undertake the finicky task of picking bits of soil from the tiny leaves and stems of your plants.
Are There Any Other Factors To Consider?
Your precious little microgreens are just like any other plant. Hence, there are numerous other factors to take into consideration. Planting containers, temperature and light are just a few of the other factors that will affect the quantity and quality of your yield. The more information you acquire before you begin, the greater your chances of success.
What About Cost?
Cost may be another factor that you wish to consider when deciding whether to grow in soil or not. Hydroponics will probably be a little costlier for the initial start-up. However, those that tend to favour hydroponic gardening will state that this system is just as, if not more cost-effective in the long run.
Will The Nutrient Content Of The Plant Be Affected?
‘GreenSpace’ produced a table that profiled 9 different microgreens. Referencing the ‘Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry’ they found that for the vitamins tested, microgreens scored higher in nearly every instance when compared to their more mature counterpart. Some people believe that microgreens grown in soil will have higher nutritional value, however the grower can control the nutrients that are added during the hydroponic process so this shouldn’t be an issue.
I’m Thinking Of Selling My Microgreens
If you are thinking of going more large-scale with your microgreens venture, then the general consensus is that the soil method will be your best option in most cases. Two main factors being that the yields were generally higher, and many commented that the taste was better when grown in soil. If you are considering growing microgreens commercially then obviously you will need to research the requirements for meeting local standards and regulations.
Will One Technique Produce Better Plants Than The Other?
There are numerous pros and cons for both growing in soil and growing hydroponically. There are quite a variety of different microgreen seeds that you can purchase, and some tend to do well in soil while others, such as wheatgrass, kale and kohlrabi thrive in a hydroponic environment. The beauty of gardening is that you can experiment and discover what methods and materials will work best in your situation. Happy gardening!
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.