It’s rarely possible to regrow microgreens after cutting. You’re taking the leaves from above the ground, which the plant seeds need for photosynthesis. This is the process by which plants convert daylight into nutrients to feed itself to grow, so cutting anything from them weakens it.
The rest of this article will talk about what microgreens are, the reasons why cutting microgreens to regrow is not recommended, which ones it’s possible to try with, the nutritional benefits of them, and how to grow them initially.
How does photosynthesis affect regrowth?
You’re taking away the original plant’s regrowing potential by cutting them above soil where the photosynthesis process takes place. So you’re unlikely to get another harvest because you’ve cut off its fuel supply.
What stunts microgreens’ regrowth?
There isn’t enough energy in the original seed to regrow – there’s only enough to support first growth.
Just cutting them at all stunts their growth as they’re very young and still developing. That means it’s going to take longer the second time to get a second harvest,
Mature greens are developed and established enough to heal and regenerate, unlike microgreens.
Cuttings from microgreens are also more susceptible to pests and diseases than the seed itself.
Will the quality be as good as the first crop?
No. They tend to be more fibrous and less flavoursome than the first crop. Each new regrowth would be less nutritious than the last.
The chances of regrowth are low to begin with, so the second crop is likely to be much smaller and may come through as more yellow than green.
What can I do to maximise chances of regrowth?
Put them in large pots/trays. This gives them space below the soil for better root structure development, which will encourage regrowth.
If I tried it, which leaves should I take?
Take them from just above the lowest leaf. The lowest leaves are more restorative, so the original plant has the best chance of using the photosynthesis process to regrow.
Which microgreens can regrow?
Peas have a better chance as their seeds are relatively big, so there is more chance of surplus energy for a second crop.
They also have a larger set of leaves by the time you harvest.
Can I reuse the soil?
It’s not recommended as it can contain bacteria and stunt the growth of the next batch you grow. Add it to your compost instead.
What are the nutritional benefits of microgreens?
They are packed with concentrated Vitamin C, E and K, which help fight off infections, help with blood clotting and keep your skin and bones healthy.
They also contain essential minerals including potassium, which can help to control blood pressure, iron which converts to energy, as well as zinc, which maintains healthy skin.
Research has shown that they can actually be 40 times more nutritious than a similar amount of mature greens, as the nutrients are more concentrated.1
What do I need to grow microgreens inside?
Below is a list of everything you need to grow microgreens inside.
1. Pick a seed mix or a pre-packaged mix, which may include kale, spinach and basil, to grow on your windowsill.
2. Pick a tray or container that’s at least 1-2 inches deep. You can use any plastic container, including old yoghurt pots or those you get take aways in. As you’ll be harvesting its fruits very early on, it won’t grow that big, so you don’t need much room.
3. A container cover If you want to cover it. It may mean you don’t need to water it.
4. Potting mix.
6. A spray bottle to water the microgreens – spraying/misting is more effective as it can be more evenly distributed over the seeds.
7. A lamp if the plant isn’t getting enough natural light.
Can I mix different seeds in one tray?
As different seeds can germinate and grow for harvest at different rates, a good rule of thumb is to sow similar size seeds together. Cabbage and kale can be grown together. But don’t mix them with peas or sunflower seeds.
How do I set up microgreens indoors?
Below is a step-by-step guide to growing your microgreens inside.
1. Fill your container with a potting mix and loosen the soil.
2. Add fertiliser.
3. Scatter the seeds over it – don’t bury them – just push them gently in the soil so there is good contact between seed and soil.
4. Cover the seeds with a light layer of soil.
5. Set them on a window sill with good natural lighting, or put a lamp near them.
6. If they’re not covered, keep the soil moist by watering every other day. If they are covered, check the moisture level daily. Be careful when watering as the stems are delicate.
7. Once the seeds have started germinating and you see growth above soil – remove the lid, if you’ve used one, to expose it to sunlight. Make sure it gets at least 4 – 8 hours of sunlight and even more in winter.
8. If they’re pale, they’re not getting enough sunlight. Move them to where there is better natural light or put a lamp over them.
9. Once the first two leaves are a rich green colour and a good size, you can harvest by cutting across the plants, above the soil line. Be careful with delicate stems.
How do I control the light my microgreens are getting indoors?
If you don’t get much sunlight through one window, try another or use a lamp. The latter means you have control over how much light they get each day, which is obviously good in Autumn and Winter.
Be careful with artificial light as they can generate as much heat as light – so an LED bulb is best so as not to burn your plant.
Keep the lamp within at least a foot of the plant. The further away the light source is, the lighter your greens will be.
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.