In recent years, microgreens have surged in popularity as a nutritious and flavorful addition to salads, sandwiches, and smoothies. 

These tiny greens pack a powerful punch of flavor and nutrients, making them a favorite among health-conscious individuals and culinary enthusiasts alike. 

What’s more, they are incredibly easy to grow indoors, requiring minimal space and effort. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know about growing microgreens indoors, from getting started to harvesting your bountiful crop.

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What are Microgreens?

Microgreens are young, edible greens that are harvested at the cotyledon or first true leaf stage of growth. 

They are typically harvested when they are just a few inches tall, making them smaller than baby greens but larger than sprouts. 

Despite their small size, they are packed with flavor and nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. 

Microgreens in trays
Microgreens in trays

Seeds Commonly Used for Microgreens

Arugula 

  • Arugula has a peppery flavor and are quick to grow
  • They are typically ready for harvest in 7-10 days.
Arugula microgreens growing in a yellow pot
Arugula microgreens

Radish 

  • Radish has a spicy flavor and vibrant color, making it a popular choice for adding a kick to salads and sandwiches. 
  • They are ready for harvest in about 7-10 days.
Radish microgreens
Radish Microgreens

Broccoli 

  • Broccoli has a mild, slightly nutty flavor and are rich in nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and K. 
  • They are ready for harvest in 7-10 days.
Broccoli microgreens
Broccoli microgreens

Kale 

  • Kale has a slightly sweet and earthy flavor and are packed with vitamins and minerals. 
  • They are ready for harvest in about 7-10 days.

Sunflower 

  • Sunflower has a mild, nutty flavor and is rich in vitamins and minerals. 
  • They are ready for harvest in 7-14 days.
Sunflower microgreens
Sunflower microgreens

Pea Shoots 

  • Pea shoots have a sweet, delicate flavor and are packed with nutrients such as protein, fiber, and vitamin C. 
  • They are ready for harvest in about 7-14 days.
Green pea microgreens
Green pea microgreens

Basil 

  • Basil has a strong, aromatic flavor and is perfect for adding to salads, pasta dishes, and pizzas. 
  • They are ready for harvest in about 7-14 days.

For more about growing Basil, read How To Grow and Harvest Basil.

Cilantro 

  • Cilantro has a fresh, citrusy flavor and are a popular garnish for Mexican and Asian dishes. 
  • They are ready for harvest in about 7-14 days.

Spinach 

  • Spinach has a mild, slightly sweet flavor and is rich in vitamins and minerals. 
  • They are ready for harvest in about 7-14 days.

Beet 

  • Beets have a mild, earthy flavor and are rich in vitamins and minerals. 
  • They are ready for harvest in about 7-14 days.
Beet microgreens
Beet microgreens

These are just a few examples of seeds that are well-suited for growing microgreens and are known to be easy to grow. 

Experiment with different varieties to discover your favorites and enjoy a diverse range of flavors, textures, and nutrients in your harvests.

How to Start Growing Microgreens Indoors:

Select Seeds: 

When it comes to ordering seeds for growing microgreens, there are a few important factors to consider to ensure success:

Seeds, spray bottle and trays with coconut coir to start microgreens
Seeds for starting microgreens

Seed Variety: 

  • Choose seeds specifically labeled for microgreen production. 
  • These seeds are selected for their quick germination, vigorous growth, and flavorful foliage. 
  • Common microgreen varieties include arugula, kale, radish, broccoli, sunflower, and pea shoots. 
  • Experiment with different varieties to discover your favorites.

Quality 

  • Opt for high-quality seeds from reputable suppliers. 
  • Look for seeds that are organic, non-GMO, and untreated with chemicals or pesticides. 
  • Quality seeds will produce healthy, flavorful sprouts with optimal nutrition.

Quantity 

  • Consider how much you plan to grow and order seeds accordingly. 
  • Most microgreen seeds are sold in packets or bulk quantities, depending on your needs. 
  • Keep in mind that these types of sprouts are typically grown densely, so you’ll need more seeds than you would for traditional garden crops.

Seed Supplier 

  • Choose a reliable seed supplier with a good reputation for quality and customer service.
  • Look for suppliers that specialize in microgreen seeds and offer a wide selection of varieties to choose from. 

Some popular seed suppliers include Johnny’s Selected Seeds, True Leaf Market, and Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.

Germination Rate

  • Check the germination rate of the seeds before ordering. 

Higher germination rates indicate seeds that are more likely to sprout quickly and uniformly, leading to a higher yield.

Storage and Shelf Life 

  • Consider the storage requirements and shelf life of the seeds. 

Most microgreen seeds have a long shelf life when stored properly in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. 

However, it’s a good idea to check the expiration date on the seed packet and use fresh seeds whenever possible for optimal germination and growth.

Variety Packs 

  • Consider purchasing variety packs or sampler packs that contain a selection of different seeds. 

This allows you to experiment with different flavors, colors, and textures in your microgreen garden and discover new favorites.

By considering these factors and choosing the right seeds, you can enjoy a bountiful harvest of fresh, flavorful greens to enhance your meals and elevate your culinary creations.

Choose Growing Containers 

  • You can grow microgreens in shallow trays, plastic containers, or even repurposed egg cartons. 
  • Make sure the containers have drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil.

You can usually pick up trays for free at Home Depot and Lowes in their Gardening Department.

Microgreen seeds in trays on a table
Microgreen seeds in trays

Prepare Growing Medium 

Choosing a suitable growing medium that supports the roots, retains moisture, and promotes healthy growth is important. 

Here are some common options for growing mediums:

Potting Mix

  • A high-quality potting mix or seed-starting mix is a popular choice for growing microgreens. 
  • These mixes are lightweight, well-draining, and sterile, making them ideal for germinating seeds and supporting young seedlings. 

Look for mixes specifically formulated for starting seeds, as they typically contain a balanced blend of organic matter, perlite, and vermiculite.

Bag of Potting Mix

Coconut Coir 

  • Coconut coir, also known as coco coir, is a natural fiber derived from coconut husks. 
  • It is an eco-friendly and sustainable alternative to peat moss and has excellent water retention properties. 

It is available in compressed bricks or loose fibers and can be mixed with perlite or vermiculite to improve drainage. I use these bricks from Amazon.

Coconut coir in a tray ready to be planted
Coconut coir in a tray

Hydroponic Mats 

  • Hydroponic mats or grow pads are specially designed for hydroponic growing systems and provide an inert, soil-free medium. 

These mats are made from materials such as felt or fleece and absorb water to keep seeds moist during germination. I use these mats in my trays.

Hydroponic mats are reusable and can be easily cut to fit different tray sizes.

Microgreen seeds and hydroponic mats inside growing baskets
Microgreen seeds and hydroponic matts

Soilless Mixes 

  • Soilless mixes, such as peat-based or coco coir-based blends, are lightweight and well-suited for growing microgreens. 

These mixes contain a combination of organic materials, perlite, and vermiculite to provide a balanced growing environment for young seedlings. 

Soilless mixes are sterile and free from pathogens, reducing the risk of disease and pests.

Coconut coir peat an a basket
Coconut coir peat

Compost 

  • Compost can be used as a growing medium, especially if it has been properly aged and screened to remove large particles. 

Compost adds nutrients to the growing medium and promotes healthy root development. 

However, it’s important to ensure that the compost is well-aerated and free from weed seeds and pathogens.

Compost in a mans hand
Compost

Horticultural Grade Vermiculite or Perlite

  • Vermiculite and perlite are lightweight, sterile, and moisture-retentive materials that can be used as a growing medium. 

They provide good aeration and drainage, which are essential for healthy root development. 

Vermiculite and perlite can be used alone or mixed with other growing mediums to improve their texture and water-holding capacity.

Perlite/Vermiculite mix
Perlite/Vermiculite mix

When choosing a growing medium for microgreens, consider factors such as

  • water retention
  • drainage
  • sterility
  • nutrient content

Experiment with different mediums to find the one that works best for your microgreen growing setup and preferences.

Moisten the soil thoroughly before planting.

Plant Seeds 

  • Scatter seeds evenly over the surface of the soil, aiming for dense but not overcrowded coverage. 
  • Press the seeds lightly into the soil to ensure good seed-to-soil contact.
Seeds sprinkled on a growing medium for microgreens
Seeds sprinkled on the surface of growing medium

Cover and Water 

  • Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil or vermiculite to help retain moisture. 
  • Water the soil gently using a spray bottle or watering can with a fine mist setting.

Provide Adequate Lighting for your Microgreens

Adequate lighting is crucial for growing healthy and vibrant microgreens indoors. 

Since microgreens are typically grown in trays or containers indoors, providing the right amount and type of light is essential for promoting strong growth and development. 

Microgreens under a growligqt
Microgreens under a growligqt

Here are some considerations for lighting:

Natural Light 

Ideally, microgreens should be placed in a location with access to natural sunlight. 

A bright, south-facing windowsill is often the best spot for growing microgreens, as it provides ample sunlight throughout the day. 

However, it’s important to avoid direct sunlight during the hottest part of the day, as this can cause them to wilt or scorch.

Supplemental Lighting 

In cases where natural light is limited or inconsistent, supplemental lighting may be necessary to ensure optimal growth.

LED grow lights are an excellent choice for providing supplemental lighting. 

LED lights are energy-efficient, produce little heat, and can be customized to provide the specific spectrum of light needed for plant growth. 

Position the grow lights directly above the microgreens, keeping them 6-12 inches away from the tops of the plants.

Light Spectrum 

Microgreens require a full spectrum of light for healthy growth, including both blue and red wavelengths. 

Blue light promotes vegetative growth and compact, sturdy stems, while red light stimulates flowering and fruiting. 

LED grow lights designed specifically for plant growth often provide a balanced spectrum of light that mimics natural sunlight, promoting robust growth and vibrant colors in microgreens.

I ordered a 2 pack of LED Spectrum Grow Lights from Amazon. These work very well and have a super long life!

Light Duration

Microgreens typically require 12-16 hours of light per day to grow optimally. 

Use a timer to ensure consistent light exposure, turning the grow lights on in the morning and off in the evening to mimic a natural day-night cycle. 

Consistent light exposure is essential for promoting healthy photosynthesis and preventing leggy or weak growth.

Light Intensity 

The intensity of light is also important for microgreen growth. 

Aim for a light intensity of 200-400 micromoles per square meter per second (µmol/m²/s) for optimal growth. 

You can measure light intensity using a light meter or by referring to the manufacturer’s specifications for your grow lights.

By providing adequate and consistent lighting, you can ensure healthy growth and development of your microgreens, resulting in vibrant colors, robust flavors, and nutritious harvests. 

Experiment with different lighting setups and durations to find the optimal conditions for your microgreen growing environment.

Monitor and Water Regularly 

Keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. 

Check the moisture level daily and water as needed to prevent drying out.

misting microgreens with a water bottle
Misting microgreens

Watch for Growth 

Within a few days to a week, you should start to see tiny sprouts emerging from the soil. 

Continue to monitor the growth of your microgreens, ensuring they receive adequate light and water.

Harvesting Microgreens

Microgreens are typically ready to harvest when they have developed their first true leaves, which usually occurs within 1-3 weeks after planting, depending on the variety. 

To harvest microgreens:

Use Scissors 

  • Using sharp scissors or a clean knife, cut the microgreens just above the soil level, leaving the roots behind. 
  • Avoid pulling the greens out of the soil, as this can disturb the roots of neighboring plants.
A woman harvesting microgreens with scissors
Harvesting microgreens with scissors

Collect and Rinse

  • Gather the harvested microgreens into a bowl or colander.
  • Rinse them gently under cool water to remove any soil or debris.

Enjoy Fresh 

Use your freshly harvested microgreens immediately in salads, sandwiches, wraps, or smoothies for a burst of flavor and nutrition.

Microgreens are versatile and can be enjoyed in various ways. 

Here are some ideas to incorporate microgreens into your meals:

Salads with Microgreens

Add a handful of microgreens to your salads for an extra burst of flavor, texture, and nutrition. 

They pair well with traditional salad greens and can elevate the overall taste of your salad.

A salad with microgreens
Salad with microgreens

Sandwiches and Wraps 

Layer microgreens onto sandwiches and wraps for added freshness and crunch. 

They make a delicious and nutritious topping for sandwiches filled with vegetables, meats, or cheeses.

Toast with microgreens and avocado
Toast with Microgreens

Soups and Stews 

Garnish soups and stews with a sprinkle of microgreens just before serving. 

They add a pop of color and freshness to warm and comforting dishes, enhancing the presentation and flavor.

Pumpkin soup with microgreens

Smoothies 

Blend microgreens into smoothies for an added nutrient boost. 

They blend seamlessly with fruits and vegetables, adding vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to your morning or post-workout smoothie.

Egg Dishes 

Top omelets, scrambled eggs, or frittatas with a handful of microgreens for added flavor and nutrition. 

They add a fresh and vibrant touch to egg-based dishes, making them visually appealing and delicious.

Microgreens on eggs
Microgreens on eggs

Pizza 

Sprinkle microgreens over homemade or store-bought pizza just before serving. 

They add a pop of color and freshness to pizza slices, complementing the savory flavors of the toppings.

Tacos and Burritos 

Use microgreens as a topping for tacos, burritos, or quesadillas. 

They add a refreshing and crunchy texture to Mexican-inspired dishes, balancing out the rich and spicy flavors.

Microgreens in a burrito
Microgreens in a burrito

Sushi Rolls 

Roll microgreens into sushi rolls for added color, texture, and nutrition. 

They can be used as a filling alongside traditional sushi ingredients like rice, fish, vegetables, and nori.

Garnishes 

Use microgreens as a garnish for a wide range of dishes, including appetizers, entrees, and side dishes. 

They add a decorative touch to plates, enhancing the presentation and visual appeal of your meals.

Microgreens as a garnish

Burgers 

Top burgers with microgreens for a fresh and crunchy topping. 

They add a burst of flavor and nutrition to burgers, enhancing the overall taste and texture.

Burgers with microgreens

Pasta 

Toss microgreens with cooked pasta and your favorite sauce for a quick and nutritious meal. 

They add a vibrant and refreshing element to pasta dishes, balancing out the richness of the sauce.

Sushi Bowls 

Add microgreens to sushi bowls or poke bowls for added color, texture, and nutrition.

 They can be used as a topping alongside rice, fish, vegetables, and other toppings.

These are just a few ideas to get you started, but the possibilities are endless when it comes to enjoying microgreens in your meals. 

Get creative and experiment with different dishes and flavor combinations to discover new and delicious ways to incorporate microgreens into your diet.

Final Thoughts on Microgreens

Growing microgreens indoors is a rewarding and satisfying experience that allows you to enjoy fresh, nutritious greens year-round, right from the comfort of your own home. 

With minimal space and effort, you can cultivate a bountiful crop of vibrant microgreens that add color, flavor, and nutrition to your meals. 

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a novice enthusiast, microgreens are the perfect way to bring the joy of gardening indoors and elevate your culinary creations to new heights. 

So roll up your sleeves, grab your seeds, and start growing your own microgreens today!

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