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How to Grow Your Own Microgreens (Mini Leafy Greens) for Juicing

HOW TO GROW GREENS

Microgreens are simply leafy greens and herbs that are tiny. These include arugula, basil, beets, kale, cilantro, red cabbage etc., that are harvested soon after they grow.

These miniature leaves – all about one to two inches long – have a delicate, fresh flavor and are especially perfect for juicers who are first starting green juicing since the taste of these tiny leaves aren’t quite as intense as the taste of their full-grown counterparts. There’s also been news lately that although these greens are small – their benefits are huge – possibly even greater than the nutritional benefits of full-sized leafy greens.

If you purchase these little greens at supermarkets, they fetch a price of around $3 to $5 an ounce – putting them out of the price range for most daily juicers.

The good news is that microgreens are surprisingly easy to grow at home. These plants don’t need a lot of light and since they’re only going to be grown until they produce their first leaf, there’s not a lot of maintenance either. You can easily create a little windowsill garden project out of these, saving counter space and money at the same time ๐Ÿ™‚

You should be warned that growing your own microgreens takes a little more effort and preparation than the other easy greens you can grow at home. They do require soil, for instance, and can take up to 2 weeks to grow. I recommend planting several little “microgreen” gardens a few days apart so you can have a constant rotation of fresh leafy greens at your disposal.


What You Need to Grow Your Own Microgreens

Container: You need a container to grow microgreens in and any container of really any size will do the job. Small containers will obviously only grow a little, so if you want enough microgreens for a week, make sure to use a larger containers.

I prefer larger containers that are at least 12 inches long and at least 3 inches deep, since deeper pots allows more room for roots and keep the soil moist longer. Containers can be made of clay, plastic, glass or wood but it should have drainage holes in the bottom.

You don’t even have to purchase a container separately. Thanks to You Grow Girl, I realized that you can actually re-use plastic takeaway containers. I had a few lying around from salad bars here and there and all I had to do was poke holes in the bottoms and use the cover as the drip-tray to place beneath the “potting container.”

just poke holes in the bottoms of a take-out container

just poke holes in the bottoms of a take-out container

Another good option is to get a set of trays like these – these are 10 planting trays that are 21 inches long, 11 inches wide, and 3 inches deep. They’re only $17.50 for the 10 trays. You’ll have to poke your own holes in the bottom (I recommend using 5 as the actual planting pots to poke holes in and using 5 as water-collector trays to place below the 5 planting pots).

growingtrays

Or if you want a fancy, decorative potting container to spruce up your windowsills while growing microgreens, a great one is this multi-use microgreens garden.

grow your own microgreens

grow your own microgreens

Soil: Try to get organic soil that is meant to be used in containers, since these will have a soil mix that’ll help to retain moisture. I like Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix – you can get an 8-quart bag on Amazon for $15.87.

Seeds: You can buy individual seeds for any type of microgreen plant you want to grow, but I recommend starting out with a pre-mixed seeds variety, since various microgreens have varying growth times and pre-mixed varieties usually mix together the plants with similar growth times.

I like this Savory Mix Microgreen Seeds packet by Botanical Interests. It contains seeds for Beet greens, Swiss Chard, Radish greens, Peppergrass, Cabbage, Pak Choi, etc. It’s a 24 gram packet for just $3.99.


How to Grow Your Own Microgreens

Step 1. Fill in Your Container with Potting Soil

Make sure your potting container has a few drainage holes on the bottom. If it doesn’t come with holes, poke in your own using a knife or a pair of scissors. Pour in your potting soil, leaving only about an inch of space at the top of your potting container.

photo from http://yougrowgirl.com

photo from http://yougrowgirl.com

Step 2. Plant Your Seeds

Sprinkle your microgreen seeds on the surface of the soil, leaving about 1/6″ of space between the seeds. Because these plants are small and to be harvested in a short period of time, you don’t really need to worry about overcrowding.

Gently tap the seeds into the soil to make sure they have actual contact with the soil and cover with a very thin layer of soil. Water lightly to start the germinating process.

* In the beginning, I recommend covering the top of the soil with 1 moistened paper towel sheet to keep the moisture in. Gently water this paper towel every day until the plants begin to sprout. Once the first leaves start appearing, you don’t need the paper towel anymore.

Place in a sunny spot, i.e. windowsill.

Step 3. Water Your Microgreens

You want to make sure the soil is kept moist but not dripping wet. A good way to water your microgreens while their sprouting is to soak the potting container from below (in a big bucket) or to simply use a misting spray so that you don’t damage the delicate growing sprouts.

If you decide to water by soaking in a big bucket of water, make sure you let the container drain for around half an hour afterwards.

Step 4. Harvest Your Microgreens

In less than a week, you’ll start seeing little leaves sprouting up. In less than two weeks, you should start seeing “real” leaves. At about 2 weeks, your microgreens should be ready for eating and juicing!

Step 5. Repeat

Remember that once the leaves of microgreens seeds are harvested, those seeds are no longer good for growing more microgreens. You have to plant a new set of seeds (see Step 2).

Every time you harvest a round of microgreens, simply repeat Step 2 (above). Yes, you’ll have to use new seeds, but you don’t have to use new soil or pots. You don’t really even have to dig out the old roots and stems – just till the soil with a fork, dig out a few of the roots if you feel like it and repeat Step 2.

* I recommend planting a few microgreen pots a few days apart so that you have a continuous supply of microgreens at your disposal.


Things to Keep in Mind When Growing Your Own Microgreens

Microgreens are fairly easy to grow at home for a few reasons:

  • They don’t need much light and are perfect as a “windowsill crop.”
  • You don’t really need to fertilize them since you’ll be harvesting them when they’re really young. If you want to fertilize anyway, just toss in some of your leftover juice pulp!
  • Microgreens are grown for such a short period that you don’t really need to worry about pests and/or diseases.
  • You can mainly use materials you have at home.
  • Microgreens grow quite fast.

But still, there are a few things you should keep in mind when growing microgreens:

  • Don’t let the soil dry out, keep it moist!
  • Don’t place your containers outside since there will be more water loss and will need to be watered more frequently.

That’s all! Happy growing (and juicing)!

Want to know more super easy green veggies you can grow at home?

2 comments
The Easiest, Cheapest Way to Grow Your Own Sprouts for Juicing | Just Juice - March 8, 2013

[…] you enjoyed this post on growing your own sprouts, why not try your hand at growing some other easy greens as […]

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Save Some Green By Growing Your Own | Just Juice - July 21, 2013

[…] Find out how to grow your own microgreens here! […]

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