How to Grow Microgreens

How and why to grow microgreens in your kitchen

Microgreens are all the rage lately. They are similar to sprouts, but require soil and sunlight (or a grow light) to grow.

What are Microgreens?

As the name suggests, microgreens are just miniature plants of greens, herbs or other vegetables. Like sprouts, they are a concentrated nutrient source and packed with beneficial enzymes because of their rapid growth.

Though they are often seen in dishes at gourmet restaurants because of their delicate flavor and sophisticated presentation, they are simple to grow on your own and cost very little once you have the supplies. With the right tools, you can have a year-round vegetable source on your kitchen counter.

Microgreens also solve the problem of the potential for bacteria growth in sprouts (though it is very rare) because they are grown in an open-air environment and in soil. Unlike sprouts, only the stem and leaves are eaten, not the seed and root.

What to Grow?

The most common plants used for growing microgreens are:

  • Lettuce
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Radish
  • Beet
  • Watercress
  • Herbs
  • Greens
  • Cabbage
  • Mustard
  • Chia
  • Sunflower
  • Buckwheat

Any edible plant that is entirely edible (root to leaves) can technically used, but the ones above are the most common and taste the best. Microgreens add beautiful color and great flavor to salads and are an excellent garnish for meats and other dishes.

Microgreen Growing Supplies:

How to Grow Microgreens:

  1. Find a south-facing window with plenty of sunlight or install an inexpensive growlight. I’ve found that a growlight mounted under kitchen cabinets works perfectly for growing greens on the counter if you have the space to do it. In warmer months, these can also be easily grown outside.
  2. Place an inch of organic potting soil in the bottom of a shallow tray or planter and smooth out to be as even as possible. Alternately, clear an area of your garden for growing microgreens.
  3. Scatter seeds over the surface of the soil evenly. You will spread more seeds than you would if just planting the seeds to grow to full size, since they will only get 1-2 inches tall and you want to harvest as many as possible from each tray. TIP: Soaking the seeds overnight will speed sprouting time, but make it more difficult to scatter them.
  4. Cover the seeds with a think layer of soil and spray the surface with clean, filtered water. I use an upcycled glass vinegar bottle with a misting spray top.
  5. Place on the warming mat, if using and under the grow light or near the window.
  6. Mist the seeds a couple of times a day to keep the soil evenly moist while waiting for the seeds to germinate.
  7. Greens are usually ready to harvest in 2-4 weeks, depending on the type of seed used.
  8. To grow another crop, either remove the roots and replant or dump the entire tray in the compost and fill with more soil to replant. If you dump in the compost, some straggler seeds usually volunteer and make a crop of their own a few weeks later.

To use: Cut microgreens right above soil level with kitchen shears. Rinse with filtered water and add to salads or to garnish almost any dish.

Ever grown anything inside?

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Reader Comments

  1. You are amazing! I’ve been on this too and found sprouting to be difficult to maintain long term. I started using cardboard egg cartons with a pan under them to sprout micro greens, then throw cardboard egg carton with soil in compost ben after a couple of uses. I sometimes juice my greens as well as eat them. Just Personal preference.

  2. Is there any special proceedures to start the second, or next batch? I love the idea of having home grown microgreens!

  3. I have been interested in doing this for quite some time, but have NO windows to put them near. Hmmm, maybe save my pennies for a grow light. You have motivated me to think some more on it. 🙂

    • You can buy shop lights for $11.99 at Walmart. Get the soft blue light bulbs, which are around $6.00. Don’t waste your money on an expensive hydroponic lamp, it’s not needed for microgreens! There’s a great APP for budget Microgreen growers, called ‘Microgreens’.

    • The ideal florescent size is a T5, but T8’s will work also. For growing vegetative crops, such as micro-greens, you will want cool white bulbs rated at 6500 or higher. Walmart sells a very inexpensive 18″ T-5 grow light for around $12.00. Another option is LED Amazon sells a 12″ square fixture, red and blue light for approximately $40. LED’s last for years, whereas florescent need to be replaced every 2-3 years. I use LED’s in my class at high school.

  4. I had a micro basil salad that had olive oil n sea salt on it!!! Wow! So good!!!!

    • Sounds delicious, Alicia!

  5. After you cut the greens, will anything continue to grow? Or do you just stir up the soil and plant new seeds?

    I’m a total gardening newbie, but I want to grow some things we can eat. I’ve only bought 3 tiny little starter pots I saw at walmart with basil, cilantro, and sunflowers and had them growing for about a month now. Just transplanted them into pint size pots and that is the extent of my gardening experience!

    • A few stragglers will, but I find it is better to pull out the roots and put in the compost so I can create a new crop inside and I end up harvesting some from the compost later on.

  6. Thanks for posting this. I was looking to grow micro greens and had no easy ideas. Do the greens regrow after cutting and using them or do we have to sow the seeds again?

    • Most of the time they don’t. I just dump the roots in the compost though, and usually there are some seeds that hadn’t grown yet, so you get a compost harvest too a few weeks or months later 🙂

  7. Do you need to use micro green seeds or are regular organic lettuce seeds ok? I have organic butter lettuce growing on my counter right now. They are a few inches tall right now. Are these considered micro greens?

  8. Super keen on this idea! 🙂 A question regarding thyroid health though… If we are encouraged to cook veggies that contain goitrogens (kale, spinach, cabbage etc) and the nutrients are more concentrated in sprouts, would the effects on the thyroid be increased as well? Or do the goitrogens become active later in the plant’s life cycle? 🙂

    • That is a tough question and from what my doctor has said, it really depends on the type of thyroid problem. For most people, we’d have to eat such a huge amount of greens to even get close to a dangerous level, that it is fine. Also, if a person has autoimmune thyroid disease (which is most people, even if it isn’t diagnosed) goitrogens are not a problem, but iodine can be a really big problem. I avoided cruciferous veggies for years and took iodine, which made me so much worse. I’ve felt tremendously better since eating more greens and avoiding iodine supplements like the plague. Long story short- each person is different, but I don’t worry about these at all. if you are worried, sprout lettuce, beets and other safe ones 🙂

  9. I’m trying to figure out if the seeds have to be labeled ‘microgreens’ or if regular seeds can be used.

    • Any seeds will do, they do not have to specifically labeled microgreens. 🙂

    • Awesome article Katie! We grow microgreens for retailers out in California and we love seeing people getting their hands dirty and growing their own produce!!! Great content 🙂

  10. Pogonia, you don’t really need an expensive grow light- try using one of the cheap clamp lights from a home improvement store and put in the highest wattage CFL (compact flourescent light) that you can get a hold of and keep it just a few inches from the seedbed on a timer for 14 or 16 hours a day and you should be good to go for under $20. Do pay attention to the color of the light, a natural daylight or cool white will work much better than a warm color. I have a 23 watt/ 100 watt equivelant (It uses 23 watts but puts out light equivelant to a 100 watt incandescant) bulb for my seed starting, I’d hoped for a 150 equivelant but this is working pretty well so far.

  11. Our supermarket just had a huge marketing stunt where you got a little food garden with every 15€ you spent. They were basically little pots with soil and seed paper. There were lots of different ones and some are now on my mantel happily growing. However as I have no intention of growing huge broccolis and such in my tiny appartment, I wondered which would be good as micro greens. Would it for instance be possible to eat micro leek? And what exactly do you mean by greens? (Sometimes my english vocab. is not sufficiant)
    Thanks a bunch!

    • Technically any plant that is edible as a whole when grown (lettuces, kale, broccoli, etc or onions, leeks, etc) would be fine to eat as a micro green. It just means that the plant is consumed when still small.

  12. Do you need to discard the seed and root? Is there a reason not to just eat the whole thing? Especially if using for juice or a smoothy. Thanks.

  13. Actually, they don’t even need soil – I use regular wet paper towel inside any container, covered loosely with a lid for green house effect. just spread the seeds on top of towel, make sure the towel stays wet – mess free and fly free.

    • I also grow mine on wet paper towels. Works great.

  14. A well demonstrated article. I like it. Thank you.

  15. please correct typo below. is it thin or thick?

    Cover the seeds with a think layer of soil and spray the surface with clean, filtered water. I use an upcycled glass vinegar bottle with a misting spray top.

  16. How is the idea of growig micogreens in pure coco peat.