If you have fine dined a couple of times, then you probably know what microgreens are. For the sake of those who do not know, microgreens are tiny vegetables smaller than baby greens in which are harvested after the development of the cotyledon leaves.
They normally serve as decorators for your food and that is why fine dining restaurants use microgreens food dressing. The best part about microgreens is that they do not discriminate, meaning whether you are vegan or meat-eater microgreens are for everybody.
Microgreens are very expensive. They cost from 20 dollars to 50 dollars a pack and that is why many microgreen farmers have an above-average paystub yearly. However, the best part about them is that they can be easily grown. If you have access to pots or a yard, you can grow them normally just like any other plant. Alternatively, you can grow them hydroponically, meaning without soil.
I know what you are thinking right now! How can plants grow without soil? Is it smart to grow them without soil? How about the nutrients in which they gain in the soil? How will the microgreens get them without soil?
To answer your questions let me brief you a little bit on hydroponic microgreens growing. Hydroponic microgreen growing is the growth of microgreens by placing their seeds on water. To do this you will require the following
This will act as the holding container for the seeds and the water. The vessel needs to have drainage holes and so you may have to poke them in case they have none.
Plants need light to grow and for photosynthesis. Lamps can be perfect but in case you are growing them in the basement, roof lights might just do the trick.
These will act as the substitute from those that they need from the soil. These nutrients include magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, nitrogen, etc.
This will speed up the plants growth. The fertilizer is poured into the water was the microgreens seeds will absorb it.
A plant’s necessity for growth. It will also act as a substitute for soil.
I think by answering this, you have gotten a clear picture of how microgreens can grow without soil. Now, let us move on to the next question that is
Is it smart to grow microgreens without soil?
To answer this, let us look at the expense of growing microgreens on the soil. First, there is the problem of dirt. We all know that soil is dirty and if you are planning to start your small-scale microgreen farm in your basement, you will have to put up with cleaning the soil dirt every time you water your microgreens and harvest them.
And then, comes another expense which is watering. Plants planted in soil need regular watering in which can be expensive unlike growing them hydroponically were they grow on the water itself thus no need of watering. Lastly, there is the problem of insects. Soil normally attracts insects especially if the farming operation is done outdoors.
Now, some insects like earthworms can be good for the soil and nutrient provision to the plant. However, some eat plants in which cause damage and you will need to get into more expenses and buy insecticides to stop the insects from feeding on your plants.
I think now you get a clear picture of how growing microgreens on the soil is expensive. Thus, to answer your question, it is smart to grow microgreens without soil because it is cheaper and safer.
Now, I am guessing if you had to ask me one more question, you would ask on how to grow microgreens at home, right? Worry not, because I shall show you step by step on how to do it below
1. Start by preparing the water
In the growing microgreens hydroponically, pH matters. Thus, you will need to have your water pH balanced between 5.4- 6.6 and not a bit more or less. Now, in case it’s above or lows you will need a base and an acid to either lower it down or heighten it up.
2. Adding nutrients
After preparing the water and testing its pH, you will need to add the nutrients in order to dissolve in the water. The nutrients will include magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, etc.
3. Prepare your grow mat
The grow mat will be used to cover the vessel’s base during the whole growth process. First, you will need to make sure it fits the whole vessel and that is why it is necessary that you will need to cut it, to fit the container. Afterward, you will then soak it in the nutrient water, drain the water off, and lastly put it on the growing vessel.
4. Adding seeds
In soil growing, we normally plowland and add seeds to holes but in hydroponic growing, it is a little bit different. Microgreen seeds have different density, and so determining their densities is inevitable (They density description is normally allocated in their package). After determining their density, you will then pour them in your mat evenly. Afterward, you will then spray the nutrients on them.
5. Misting while germination
Now, you will need to grow your seeds in the dark and so you must cover your vessel to block any form of light. This process will take 5 days and during those 5 days, you will need to mist the seeds from time to time.
6. Growth stage
This stage when your microgreens start to grow. Hence, they will need two things that is light and water. Here, you will first need to open the vessel and expose your microgreens to your lamplight or headlight. At the same time, you will be watering them instead of misting them for a maximum of 10 days (Some species of microgreens might take 12 days)
Thus, your microgreens will be ready for harvesting. After harvesting, they wash them well and dry them and later wrap them in a bag and store them in a freezer to avoid them from rotting.
Now, apart from them being decorators and tasty foods they are also beneficial health-wise. They usually contain nutrients such as zinc, potassium, magnesium, etc. which are useful to the human body. So in case you want to grow microgreens consider this as one of the reasons for it.