So You Planted Your Microgreen Seeds…Now What?
If you’re reading this post, you should have already read the microgreens introduction, gathered your materials, and planted your microgreen seeds. If you haven’t, get on it!
Back? Alright, let’s get started.
Microgreens don’t require a lot of daily care to get them to harvest, but there ARE a few things to keep track of as your seeds grow into glorious, delicious greens. Making sure you’re on top of your microgreens maintenance will go a long way towards ensuring a beautiful harvest.
The Blackout Phase
At this point, you should have planted your seeds and they should be covered in a blackout dome. The three main factors that are required for high germination rates are water, light/darkness, and oxygen.
With the blackout dome on, your seeds are going to be very moist and ideally in a warm spot. If you have a hard time finding a warm area, look into purchasing a seedling heat mat. Keep in mind that optimal germination temperatures for many common plants is anywhere from 75-90 degrees Fahrenheit (24-32 Celcius).
Daily Maintenance in the Blackout Phase
- Lift the tray and mist your seeds a few times. That’s it.
Expert Tip: Seeds don’t HAVE to be in dark, but it causes them to struggle more when sprouting, which causes healthier and stronger microgreens. More tips on this to follow :)
At this point, you might be wondering, “How long should I keep the blackout dome on?” Great question! The answer is, “It depends.” Aim for about 3-4 days after they sprout. Because no light is hitting the plants at this stage, they won’t be undergoing any photosynthesis, so they’re going to look kind of weak and pale. That’s okay, as long as you don’t let it go on too long!
Entering the Light
After your seeds have sprouted and spent a few days in utter darkness, it’s time to take them out of solitary confinement and into the light. This is what separates microgreens from sprouts – they’re allowed to absorb light and actually grow past the cotyledon stage (the “seed leaves” of the plant).
In this phase, you will want to put them in an area that gets natural air circulation, or supplement with a light fan. In order to avoid common microgreen problems, air circulation is an absolute MUST. I ruined many a tray back when I started by ignoring this simple tip!
Other than air circulation, you’ll want to make sure and mist your trays a few times a day to make sure that they are well watered. Because microgreens are so delicate, allowing your tray to dry out will cause the stems to lose structure very quickly. While you can add water to save them, they will not look the same…and we all want delicious AND beautiful greens, right?!
Daily Maintenance in the Light Phase
- Mist your trays a few times a day
- Inspect them daily for signs of mold or fungus
Expert Tip: To make harvesting and cleaning easier, you can run your hand across the top of your microgreens to brush off all of the seed shells. Trust me…it saves a LOT of time :)
Go Forth and Grow
There’s a basic guide to what you should be doing with your microgreens every single day. It’s really not much at all, which is why they’re the perfect way to get into urban gardening! Stay tuned for the followup post on harvesting and cleaning your microgreens!