Are you tired of the messy soil at home? You might consider growing microgreens hydroponically. To grow microgreens hydroponically is the easiest and cleanest method of growing microgreens.
Growing microgreens is fun, cost-effective, and takes minimal time and effort. So, it is no doubt that you will enjoy growing microgreens hydroponically.
You will have a clean and tidy space while procuring the most nutrient-rich plants in the world. If you are a beginner to the hydroponics system and growing microgreens, you are in the right place.
We will guide you in detail about growing hydroponics microgreens, the tools you need and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to grow them. Fret not; this is a carefully curated article to help you grow microgreens hydroponically.
Table of Contents
What Are Hydroponic Microgreens?
Microgreens are sprouts that are grown to enhance your lifestyle. They are immature baby greens that are harvested when the plants produce 1-2 true leaves. Microgreens sprouts are baby plants that are rich in nutrition.
Hydroponic etymologically means the process of growing plants without soil. Some microgreens are growing using a hydroponics system. They thrive in an aquatic-based environment. The hydroponics microgreens get their nutrients and oxygen primarily from water.
Since hydroponic microgreens need to grow in a soilless environment, these plants need nutrients added to water. This will enable the growing microgreen’s roots to absorb a nutrient-rich solution.
Your microgreens need a suitable growing medium or substrate like coconut coir, hemp mats, clay pebbles, vermiculite, or Rockwool. There is some hydroponic system that doesn’t require a growing medium. Growing hydroponic microgreens could prove sustainable too!
Why Grow Your Microgreens Hydroponically?
Growing microgreens hydroponically has a multitude of benefits and is easy. You can grow your microgreen crop using hydroponics systems because of these benefits and reasons.
- Uses Less Water- Growing microgreens hydroponically uses less water. Your hydroponics system reuses the water. So, your gardening process becomes more sustainable.
- They Can Grow Anywhere- You can place your hydroponic microgreen production system anywhere in your home. With the right amount of light and tools, your microgreen seeds can be grown all year round.
- You Have More Control-When you grow your microgreens crop hydroponically, you have more control over the nutrient solution used. You can adjust the fertilizer balances for each microgreen crop you grow.
- No Mess- Growing microgreen hydroponically means that you grow it without soil, so there is no chance of soiling your carpet or floors. You can have a spick and span house, always, with hydroponic microgreens.
- Some Microgreens Grow Better Hydroponically- Some microgreens plants like Kale, Wheat Grass, and Kohlabri grow best hydroponically than soil.
Growing hydroponic microgreens is environment-friendly and a clean option.
The Supplies You Will Need To Start?
If you plan to grow hydroponic microgreens, you will need certain supplies and things to help you in your mission.
1. Growing Trays
You need a growing tray to grow your microgreens. You can get a 10* 20-inch plastic tray. Make sure you get a tray with drainage holes. Otherwise, you will need to poke holes in the tray.
When you get into a microgreens business, you need to buy one of the best seeds possible. It would be best if you bought microgreen seeds that can grow without soil. Make sure you buy certified organic and untreated seeds. This is to avoid the consumption of chemicals.
Your hydroponic microgreens, despite growing without soil, need adequate light. Sunlight is best, of course. But since these are aquatic-based plants, you might prefer using T5 fluorescent lights or T8 lights that are cheaper. Light is one of the major elements to help your seed grow seedling leaves.
4. Growing Medium
Your hydroponic microgreens operation may need a suitable growing medium. It will help your microgreen roots to hold onto some stable ground to help them stay upright. Some common growing medium includes coconut coir, hemp mats, or clay pebbles.
5. Ph Testing Kit Or Strips
When growing hydroponic microgreens, you require a ph testing kit or strips. This is to check the pH level of the water. While your water may be at the optimum pH level, it is crucial to check the pH level so that you can make adjustments to your hydroponic system.
6. A Spray Bottle
Make sure you have or add a spray bottle to your cart when shopping. You need a clean and chemical-free spray bottle to help mist your microgreens.
You should purchase micro greens nutrient solution which is organic and chemical-free. Try to look for a nutrient solution specifically designed for growing microgreens hydroponically. But, you can use regular hydroponic nutrients too. Additional nutrients will enhance your hydroponically growing microgreens with flavor and health benefits.
As home Gardeners, it is important to ensure you have these supplies handy before diving into growing microgreens hydroponically.
Growing Microgreens Without Soil: Step By Step Guide
It is simple, cost-effective, and minimalistic to grow microgreens hydroponically. We are highlighting the methods and providing you with a step-by-step guide on how to grow microgreens hydroponically.
Step 1: Prepare Your Water
When you grow microgreens hydroponically, the most important element is water. Since your seeds will get their nutrients mainly from the water, you need to prepare your water carefully.
Your water pH balance needs to be between 5.5 and 6.5. Ensure it is pH balanced and is not acidic or alkaline. If the pH is too high, you can add phosphoric acid. On the contrary, if the pH of water is too low, you can add lime or wood ash to increase it.
It is recommended to use distilled water or rainwater. But, you can use tap water too. Just ensure you let it sit for 24 hours or boil it to rid it of the chlorine. This is the stage you dissolve any nutrients solution for growing your microgreen crops hydroponically.
Step 2: Soak Your Grow Mat/ Grow Pads
Soak your grow mat/grow pads. This is part of preparing your tray. Firstly, pour two cups of pH-balanced water into the bottom of your tray and distribute it evenly amidst all the channels.
Then lay one of the growing pads or mat in the tray and move the water around. Make sure to press the growing pads to ensure it is completely wet.
Finally, using the spray bottle, mist the pads evenly. Ensure you avoid underwatering your grow pad. Then keep the tray absolutely flat for the seeding stage.
Step 3: Add Your Seeds
The next stage of growing your microgreens hydroponically is to sprinkle the seeds evenly on your growing pads. Distribute it evenly in your tray.
Note that each microgreen requires a different seed density to grow optimally. Read an ebook or packaging instructions carefully to know how many seeds to sprinkle.
Once you sprinkle your microgreens seed in your tray, you should mist your seeds with a nutrient solution or clean water.
Step 4: Cover Your Seeds
When you are done sowing your seeds, you should continually mist them to ensure each seed is wet and has enough water content. Your tray of evenly distributed seeds needs a humid and dark environment to thrive to grow microgreens hydroponically.
Use a light-proof blackout dome tray to cover your microgreens seed tray. Make sure the tray is in an unperturbed place. This is to ensure your seeds do not slosh.
Step 5: Early Steps
One of the crucial early steps, while you grow microgreens hydroponically is to ensure darkness. Depending on the variety of microgreens, you will need to keep your tray in utter darkness for 4-5 days.
The only time you should open it is to mist it with clean water every 12 hours. Before your microgreens start germinating and sprout, a temperature of 65 to 75 degrees, Farhenheit and darkness are ideal.
This darkness helps your crop to struggle for light and grow. It is a smart gardening technique at home to make the seeds germinate faster when growing without soil.
Step 6: Growing
After 4-5 days, depending on the variety of microgreens you are growing hydroponically, you can remove the lid. When your crop is at the baby greens stage, you can uncover the tray.
Once you uncover your plants, you should flood them with direct sunlight or fluorescent lights. Ensure you keep rotating your tray so that your microgreen crops dont angle for the light.
At this stage, you can start watering your microgreens directly instead of misting them. You can water your tray completely without overwatering. Make sure your growing medium is stable as you do this.
It would be best if you used a hydroponic nutrient solution that is 1/4th its strength at this point. You could water it with pH-balanced water too.
Step 7: Harvesting
While growing microgreens hydroponically note that your microgreens will be ready to harvest as early as 7 days. As they grow without soil and use an aquatic base, you need to ensure you harvest them as soon as they are ready. You risk fungus, odor, and mold if you let it pass more than 10 days.
Ensure you harvest your microgreens when they are at the appropriate height. According to the health food industry, high-quality microgreens need a clean portion of stem below the leaves. It shouldn’t be so low that there is a risk of contamination with the growing medium.
There are two methods to harvest your greens when you grow microgreens hydroponically.
- The recommended method to harvest your microgreens crops is to grab a fistful of microgreens and gently uproot it from the growing medium like coconut coir or clay pebble. Use a sharp scissor to trims the roots from the greens you have pulled.
- The alternate method is to lift the grow pad and trim the microgreens and the roots using sharp scissors.
Ensure that your room temperature is maintained cool so that the growing cycle is not unnecessarily sped up. Grow microgreens hydroponically successfully using these steps.
The Best Microgreens To Grow Hydroponically
Several microgreens can be grown hydroponically, each with a high amount of nutrients and flavor intensity. When you use hydroponics to grow your microgreens, you prevent the use of granular growing mediums. You have a variety of microgreens that use the hydroponic system. They are classified into four main categories.
- Shoots and Tendrils- These crops have a mild flavor. They include pea shoots, sunflower, and corn shoots. They are often used as garnishes by chefs.
- Spicy Greens-These plants have an intense flavor punch and are used as salad greens. Cress, arugula, radish, and mustard are some plants that come in this category.
- Micro Herbs- Micro herbs are a plant that has a distinctive flavor. They are a light plant species and popular in the home gardening system. It can be a decorative plant too. Parsley, basil, fennel, cilantro, dill, onion, chives, rosemary, thyme, and edible chrysanthemums are some micro herbs.
- Tender Greens- Red cabbage, cauliflower, corn salad, spinach, lettuce, celery, carrot, and lettuce are popular plants in this category. Tender greens can be grown hydroponically and are a plant category packed with diverse flavors and textures.
All these can be grown hydroponically and also used in a shipping container farm. Read an ebook about shipping container farms before diving into it. Some of these vegetable plants, microgreens like Kale, reddish, clover, kohlrabi, alfalfa, and collard, are best grown hydroponically. In fact, they are some of the most nutrients rich plants.
Benefits Of Growing Microgreens Hydroponically
Growing microgreens hydroponically is a unique and fantastic way to cultivate culinary essentials indoors. You can grow microgreens with soil too. But, growing microgreens hydroponically has inexplicable advantages and is much easier.
One of the major benefits, as we mentioned before, is no mess on your floors. When you grow microgreens without soil, you eliminate mess. One more benefit is that you get a higher yield of plants while gardening using this strategy. When you use soil to grow microgreens, the baby salad leaf has to absorb nutrients from the roots in the soil. In contrast, a hydroponic system absorbs nutrients directly from the growing media.
While gardening using the hydroponic system, you have fewer variables. So, it becomes easier for you to pinpoint where your problems are arising. Troubleshooting and fixing issues become easier and quicker.
Hydroponic growing at home makes it much easier to have microgreens, as you needn’t worry about the location. As long as you have adequate lighting and the proper tools, you can grow them anywhere. There is no hassle of soil tilling, soil fertilizing, or bothering with the weather.
Growing microgreens hydroponically has a multitude of benefits, and it is healthy too!
When you undertake any gardening project, you are bound to face a few problems. Even when you grow microgreens hydroponically, there are certain common issues you might face. Here are some problems and how you can tackle them.
1. Planting Too Thick
If you notice your microgreens leaves becoming too thick and susceptible to rotting, watch out. You might have planted your seeds too thickly. To thin out the crop, you can pluck out individual plants carefully.
2. Planting Too Thin
When you plant too few seeds, your crop might be too thin. This might just result in a small and scraggly plant and not cause too much of a problem. The adult stage leaves might not fare well, though, if the planting becomes too thin.
3. Over Watering
Your microgreens require the optimum amount of water and oxygen. If you overwater above the root line, your plants will not get enough oxygen. This will make them susceptible to rot and diseases. Ensure water stays only on the channels of the bottom of the tray.
Ensure you keep observing your plant. If you notice it wilting, it might need more water. If your grow pad is merely damp, you are underwatering. Add more water to make your grow pads soggy.
After harvesting your microgreens, it is imperative to throw away the grow pads. Microgreens cannot re-grow after harvesting, so there is no possibility of recutting. You have to grow a new crop.
Rotting of microgreens occurs due to less water or too much water. It can also be due to sowing your seeds to thickly. But the major reason for rot is that your water is too alkaline. Make sure that you use pH-balanced water for your plant. If rot continually occurs, give the rotting area a wide berth during harvesting.
7. Multiple Crop Trays
There is no problem with sowing multiple quantities of seed in the same tray. A single tray is preferable compared to using multiple trays. Using multiple trays might help you segregate better, but it will be time-consuming. A single tray with proper segregation according to harvest times will work like a charm.
Extreme temperatures are not recommended for your microgreens. Cold temperatures slow down the growth cycle, and heat hastens the growth cycle. The optimum temperature is 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit for your baby green’s growth cycle.
9. Generally Weak Crop
If you baby your microgreens too much, you will have a weak yield. You need to let it struggle for light when you sow them. Instead of uncovering the lid for 4-5 days, keep it covered for a day or two more. This will ensure your plant’s roots penetrate the growing pad and strengthen.
10. Pale Crop
If you are plant is pale, evaluate your lighting. Ensure that the microgreens are getting enough and a strong light source to grow hydroponically.
11. Mucilaginous Seeds
Mucilaginous seeds are prone to drying out quickly. So ensure you keep misting them regularly in the early stages of sprouting. They should be kept damp and wet to promote growth.
12. Pre Soaking
Large-sized and heavy seed types will germinate better if they are pre-soaked. The seed type that is usually grown in soil needs to be pre-soaked to grow hydroponically.
13. Burned Crops
Some plants like pak choi, arugula, and turnips are sensitive to light. In such cases, you should keep the optimum distance between your light source and microgreens tray. If they get too much light, they tend to burn.
It is common for the growing pads to give off an odor after 10 days. That is why it is recommended that you harvest the microgreens within 10 days.
Mold is a fungus or rotting of your microgreens. You can put some baking soda to reduce the acidity of your water to prevent mold. Mold makes your microgreens inedible, so watch out.
To ensure you have the perfect yield, see to it that you take precautions to avoid these problems. Ensure you control the temperature, water pH balance, and the settings carefully.
Follow all the food safety norms given by your local law to uphold the healthy food industry guidelines. You will have proper edible microgreens hydroponically grown if you follow the instructions to the tee.
Hydroponically grown baby greens are safe, healthy, and easy to grow. They require few tools to grow. The hydroponically grown microgreens offer many benefits and can be grown anywhere and any time of the year.
Microgreens hydroponically grown can be used to garnish your dishes. They will enhance the flavor and taste of your food. It also helps in giving you a healthy lifestyle with plenty of nutritious benefits. You can use hydroponically grown microgreens on your salads, pizza, pasta, meats, and much more to make the food rich.
You can also use your hydroponics crops to create delicious smoothies that help lower your cholesterol levels and lowers your cardiovascular disease risk. It also helps to lower your risk of getting diabetes.
Your hydroponic microgreens operation is extremely crucial for your health, and what else? It is a fun and meditative task that takes minimal effort. So, hurry, go get your tools and dive into growing micro greens hydroponically, and have fun!
James Fields is the founder of Gardener to Farmer. His passion for gardening goes back to his childhood days when he would visit his grandfather during the holidays and help him with the plants in the backyard. This has now translated to creating a dependable resource for gardening.