You can grow microgreens at home without soil by using hydroponic gardening. Hydroponic gardening is when you grow plants in water rather than in soil. You suspend the roots in nutrient-rich water. Hydroponic gardening has a lot of benefits over traditional gardening.
What are the steps to starting a hydroponic garden?
There are a few steps to starting a hydroponic garden.
- Prepare your growing medium. There will be instructions on the label of your medium about how to prepare it.
- Get your water ready. Adjust the pH to get it as close to 6 as possible.
- Put the water in your tray, and then put the growing medium on top.
- Put the seeds evenly on top of your growing medium. Use about 2-3 tablespoons of seeds.
- Give the plants light once the seeds germinate.
- Once your plants have their first true leaves, harvest them with a pair of scissors.
- Use them the same day that they are harvested.
Do I need special seeds?
A lot of seeds are labeled specifically as microgreen seeds. This means there are no extra chemicals added to the seeds.
When you grow a plant fully, the chemicals on its seed will no longer matter because the plant will have processed and released the chemicals by the time it has fully matured. But when you’re eating a plant as young as a microgreen, it hasn’t had the time to get rid of those chemicals yet.
You can use regular seeds, but you have to do some research and make sure they aren’t treated with anything so they’re safe to use. Organic seeds are a good place to start.
How do I pick out a growing medium?
There are three things to consider when buying a growing medium: water holding capacity, air filled porosity, and cation exchange capacity.
Water holding capacity is how easily the medium holds water.
Air filled porosity is the proportion of the material that is filled with air. The higher the air filled porosity, the more oxygen can reach the plants.
The cation exchange capacity is the medium’s ability to capture positive ions like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. A low cation exchange capacity means you will have better control over the nutrients that your plant is receiving.
Depending on what you are growing, you will need a different water holding capacity, air filled porosity, and cation exchange capacity. Do your research to find out what works best for your specific plant.
What pH of water do I need?
Your water needs a pH of about 6.
You can adjust the pH of your water by using products that are specifically designed to change the pH of hydroponic water. These products are often called pH Up and pH Down and are made by various companies.
You will need a pH meter to measure the pH of your water. Then follow the instructions on your products to adjust the pH to get it as close to 6 as possible.
It is recommended to test the pH of your water daily until your system is regulated.
What is hydroponic gardening?
Hydroponic gardening is when you grow things directly in water instead of soil.
You suspend the roots of the plants into water that is pH balanced with added nutrients. You use growing mediums to support the plants above the water.
There are many ways to design a hydroponic gardening system, but all the core elements are the same.
What are the elements of hydroponic gardening?
The first thing you will need is filtered, pH balanced water.
Another thing your plants need is oxygen. You can either leave space between the water and the base of your plant, or oxygenate your setup.
Oxygenation is similar to what you would do with a fish tank.
Even though there’s no soil in hydroponic gardening, you still need root support. Growing mediums include rockwool, coconut fiber, peat moss, perlite, and vermiculite.
According to Vertical Roots, some nutrients that your plants will need are calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. You add nutrient mixes to the water because the plants aren’t getting nutrients from any soil.
The last thing you need is light. If you’re growing indoors, you will have to invest in growing lights.
What are the benefits of hydroponic gardening?
There are many benefits to hydroponic gardening.
You can grow plants year-round when you use hydroponic gardening because you don’t rely on the weather.
Hydroponic gardening uses less space than regular gardening.
It’s easier and less messy.
Although you wouldn’t think so at first, hydroponic gardening requires less water than traditional gardening.
Hydroponic gardening produces higher yields with less labor.
You can even set up your garden on your kitchen countertop!
What are microgreens?
Microgreens are harvested in their second stage of life right after the plants become sprouts. They are smaller than baby plants but a little bit bigger than spouts.
Microgreens started being on high-end menus in San Francisco in the 1980s. They have been grown in Southern California since the 90s.
They’ve spread east since then.
While they are still used in high-end restaurants, microgreens are no longer exclusive to that world and are used in average restaurants as well as grown in people’s gardens and homes.
What is the difference between microgreens and sprouts?
Sprouts are partially germinated, or fully germinated, seeds. Microgreens are young plants.
Sprouts are harvested with the roots while microgreens are not.
Microgreens have a stronger flavor than sprouts.
Microgreens are planted with a lower seed density than sprouts. They take longer to grow, although they still grow in just a few weeks.
Microgreens grow in soil or hydroponically. Sprouts, on the other hand, are seeds that get soaked in water until they germinate.
Are microgreens good for you?
Microgreens are very good for you.
The USDA Agricultural Research Service has done several studies, all of which state that microgreens have about five times more vitamins and minerals than their mature plant counterparts.
These vitamins include vitamin C, E, K, and A, as well as carotenoids and cotyledons.
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.