If you’re interested in starting your own microgreen farm, this article will guide you through the process step by step.
Microgreens have gained immense popularity in recent years, thanks to their vibrant colors, delicate flavors, and impressive nutritional value.
These tiny, nutrient-dense greens can be grown in the comfort of your own home, offering a sustainable and cost-effective way to add fresh greens to your diet.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are young and tender edible greens that are harvested at an early stage of growth, typically between 7 to 21 days after germination.
They are the tiny, delicate shoots of vegetables, herbs, and other plants that are packed with flavor and nutritional benefits.
Unlike sprouts, which are germinated seeds that are typically consumed with the root attached, microgreens are grown slightly longer and harvested when the first true leaves have emerged. This gives them a more developed taste and texture compared to sprouts.
Microgreens are also distinct from baby greens, which are harvested at a slightly later stage of growth.
While baby greens are harvested when the plant is still small and leaves are tender, microgreens are harvested even earlier, when the shoots are only a few inches tall and have developed their first set of leaves.
Microgreens come in a wide variety of types, including popular options like kale, spinach, arugula, radish, cilantro, and basil.
Each type has its own unique flavor profile, ranging from mild and subtle to bold and peppery.
This diversity of flavors allows for creative culinary combinations and adds vibrancy to dishes.
What makes microgreens truly remarkable is their impressive nutritional content.
Microgreens in nutrition
Despite their small size, microgreens are densely packed with essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
In fact, research suggests that microgreens can contain higher concentrations of certain nutrients compared to their fully mature counterparts.
For example, some studies have found that microgreens can contain up to 40 times more nutrients than their mature counterparts.
The nutritional composition of microgreens can vary depending on the specific type, but they are generally rich in vitamins A, C, and K, as well as minerals like potassium, iron, and zinc.
Microgreens farms on diet
Additionally, microgreens are a good source of dietary fiber and can provide beneficial plant compounds, such as polyphenols and carotenoids, which contribute to their antioxidant properties.
Including microgreens in your diet can offer a multitude of health benefits.
They can support immune function, promote heart health, aid digestion, and contribute to overall well-being.
Moreover, their vibrant colors and delicate textures make them visually appealing and a delightful addition to any meal.
Considering their unique characteristics, incredible flavor profiles, and exceptional nutritional value, it’s no wonder that microgreens have become a popular choice for health-conscious individuals and culinary enthusiasts alike.
Growing your own microgreens allows you to experience the freshness and satisfaction of harvesting these miniature greens right in your own home, providing a constant supply of nutritious and flavorful ingredients for your dishes.
Choosing the Right Microgreens
To help us with the task of creating our first microgreen farm, we enlisted the help of the folks of All Urban. A company specializing in the development of microgreen farms with years of experience.
Choosing the right microgreens is a crucial step for a successful microgreen farm. Consider the following factors when making your selection:
- Flavor Preferences: Determine the flavors you enjoy and those that appeal to your target market.
Microgreens can range from mild to spicy, so choose varieties that align with your taste preferences.
- Growing Time: Different microgreens have varying growth rates.
If you’re looking for quick turnaround, opt for varieties that reach maturity within a shorter time frame.
- Market Demand: Research the market demand for different microgreens in your area.
This ensures that you grow varieties that are popular and have a higher chance of being sold.
For beginners, here are some popular microgreen varieties to consider:
- Pea Shoots
Setting Up Your Micro green Farms
To set up your microgreen farm, follow these steps:
Choose the Growing Space: Select an area with sufficient natural or artificial light, proper ventilation, and a controlled environment. Consider using a spare room, a greenhouse, or a dedicated shelving unit.
Gather the Equipment: Depending on your chosen growing method, you’ll need trays or containers, grow lights, ventilation fans, timers, and a watering system.
Prepare the Growing Medium: Select a growing medium such as soil, coco coir, or hydroponic substrates. Ensure it is sterile, well-draining, and provides adequate nutrition for the microgreens.
Set Up the Growing System: Arrange the trays or containers in an organized manner. Install the grow lights at an appropriate distance from the microgreens to provide optimal light intensity.
Selecting the Growing Medium
Choosing the right growing medium is crucial for the success of your microgreens. Consider the following options:
Soil: Traditional soil is a cost-effective and readily available growing medium. Ensure it is lightweight, well-draining, and sterilized to prevent contamination.
Coco Coir: Made from coconut husks, coco coir is an environmentally friendly and sustainable alternative to soil. It retains moisture well and provides good aeration to the roots.
Hydroponics: Hydroponic systems allow you to grow microgreens without soil, using nutrient-rich water. This method is clean, efficient, and enables faster growth.
Each growing medium has its pros and cons.
Sourcing High-Quality Seeds for your micro greens farms
To ensure successful microgreen cultivation, follow these steps to source high-quality seeds:
Reliable Seed Suppliers: Research and select reputable seed suppliers with a track record of providing quality seeds. Look for companies that specialize in microgreen seeds.
Urban Leaf offers selected seeds of several species:
- Brocolli – Waltham 29;
- Kale – Red Russina;
- Mustard – Spicy Oriental;
- Radish – China Rose;
- Rainbow Salad Mix;
- Spicy Mix.
Check urban leaf collection of seed here:
Organic and Non-GMO Seeds: Opt for organic and non-GMO seeds to ensure the healthiest and most natural microgreens. This choice aligns with consumer preferences for clean and sustainable produce.
Consider Seed Varieties: Choose a diverse range of seed varieties to offer a wide selection of microgreens with different flavors, colors, and textures.
For a wide selection of premium microgreen seeds, browse through Urban Leaf’s microgreen collection.
Germination and Growing Conditions
To ensure successful germination and optimal growth conditions for your microgreens, follow these guidelines:
Germination Techniques: Follow the specific germination requirements for each seed variety. Some may benefit from pre-soaking or pre-sprouting before planting.
Temperature and Light: Maintain a consistent temperature between 60-75°F (15-24°C) for most microgreens. Provide adequate light using grow lights or natural sunlight for 12-16 hours a day.
Ventilation and Moisture Control: Proper airflow prevents mold and disease. Ensure good ventilation and mist the microgreens regularly to maintain moisture without overwatering.
Caring for Your Microgreens
Proper care and attention are essential for the health and vitality of your microgreens. Follow these guidelines:
Watering: Water the microgreens gently, keeping the growing medium consistently moist but not waterlogged. Avoid overwatering, as it can lead to mold and root rot.
Fertilization: Microgreens require minimal fertilization, but a balanced organic fertilizer can provide essential nutrients. Apply a diluted fertilizer solution once or twice during the growth cycle.
Pest and Disease Management: Monitor your microgreens regularly for pests and signs of disease. Use organic pest control methods such as neem oil or insecticidal soaps to manage pests effectively.
Regular Monitoring: Check your microgreens farms daily for any signs of stress, nutrient deficiencies, or disease. Promptly address any issues that arise to ensure healthy growth.
Harvesting and Storage
Harvesting microgreens at the right time and storing them properly is crucial for maintaining freshness and quality. Follow these guidelines:
Readiness for Harvest: Microgreens are typically ready for harvest when they have developed their first true leaves and reached the desired height. Each variety may have specific indicators of readiness.
Harvesting Techniques: Use clean, sharp scissors or a harvesting tool to cut the microgreens just above the soil or growing medium. Handle them gently to avoid damage.
Post-Harvest Handling and Storage: After harvesting, gently remove any excess moisture and place the microgreens in clean containers or packaging. Store them in the refrigerator to prolong their freshness.
Troubleshooting Common Issues on microgreens farm
Microgreen farming can come with challenges, but being prepared can help overcome them. Here are some common issues and their solutions:
- Mold: Ensure proper ventilation, maintain appropriate moisture levels, and avoid overcrowding to prevent mold growth. If mold appears, remove affected plants and adjust growing conditions.
- Pests: Monitor your microgreens regularly for pests like aphids or fungus gnats. Use organic pest control methods, such as introducing beneficial insects or using sticky traps.
- Nutrient Deficiencies: Pay attention to signs of nutrient deficiencies, such as yellowing or stunted growth. Adjust your fertilization practices or consider using a balanced organic fertilizer.
- Slow Growth: Inconsistent temperature, inadequate lighting, or poor germination techniques can lead to slow growth. Address these factors to encourage healthy and vigorous growth.
Tips for Success
To ensure success in microgreen farming, keep these tips in mind:
Start Small: Begin with a few varieties and gradually expand your selection as you gain experience and understanding of market demand.
Maintain Records: Keep track of your planting dates, growing conditions, and harvest yields. This information will help you make informed decisions and optimize your farming practices.
Continuous Learning: Stay updated with the latest trends, techniques, and research in microgreen farming. Join online communities, attend workshops, and learn from experienced growers.
Consistency and Care: Maintain a regular schedule for watering, monitoring, and providing the necessary care. Consistency and attention to detail will contribute to the success of your microgreens.
Urban leaf, in addition to having seeds, fertilizers and special vases for the microgreen farm, provides a kit that makes our lives much easier. This is the starter kit.
It comes ready-made with everything you need to get started, including a step-by-step growing guide.
The kit consists of:
- 3 x Grow Trays. 4 x 4″ ea (or 4 x 12″ stacked next to each other). Self-watering, dishwasher-safe, and made from bamboo fiber biodegradable PLA.
- 3 x Germination Lids. Made from recyclable PET.
- 6 x Grow Mats. Made from 100% compostable plant fiber. Refills are sold separately.
- 6 x Packets of Seeds, including Radish, Kale, Rainbow Mix, Mustard, Spicy Mix and Broccoli. 100% Organic and Non-GMO (our photos show an earlier version of this product, which only had 4)
- 1 x Guide Book.
- 1 x Free 156-page eBook download.
We’ve got a great opportunity with them for our readers. It’s 15% off.
See the link below for all products and use the coupon SAVE15 for the discount for every product on their store.
Experiment and Innovate: Don’t be afraid to try new varieties, growing techniques, or unique flavor combinations.
FYI: Affiliate links may be sprinkled throughout the awesome, free content you see below. I’ll receive a small commission when you purchase from my links (at no extra cost to you). As always, thanks for the support.