Microgreens are small, immature plants that are grown from the seeds of vegetables, herbs, and grains. They are typically harvested when they are only one to two inches tall, and they are known for their intense flavor, vibrant colors, and nutritional density.
In recent years, microgreens seeds have become increasingly popular among food enthusiasts, chefs, and health-conscious individuals due to their unique taste and health benefits. They are widely used in a variety of dishes, including salads, sandwiches, and smoothies, and they are known for their high levels of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
Key Takeaway: Growing microgreens can be a lucrative business opportunity for wholesale growers in the microgreens industry and microgreens business owners. Not only do microgreens offer a high-profit margin, but they also have a relatively quick turnaround time, allowing growers to produce multiple harvests per year.
In this blog, we will explore the benefits of microgreens for wholesale distribution businesses and provide a comprehensive overview of how to grow microgreens successfully. We will cover everything from sourcing wholesale microgreens, selecting the right seeds and growing medium to harvesting and packaging your microgreens for sale.
Choosing Microgreens Seeds
Microgreens are young plants that are harvested when they have just developed their first true leaves, making them a great source of nutrition and flavor. When choosing microgreen seeds, there are several factors to consider, including the type of microgreens seeds, the flavor profile, and the growth characteristics of the plant.
There are a wide variety of microgreen seeds available to choose from, including:
- Brassicas: such as broccoli, kale, and radish
- Herbs: such as basil, cilantro, and dill
- Greens: such as lettuce, spinach, and arugula
- Mustards: such as mizuna and mustard greens
- Legumes: such as peas and lentils
- Grains: such as wheatgrass and barley grass
When choosing microgreen seeds, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
- Flavor: Choose seeds based on the flavor you prefer. Different microgreens have distinct tastes, so it's worth experimenting to find your favorites.
- Growth time: Different seeds have different growth rates. Some microgreens will be ready to harvest in as little as a week, while others may take up to three weeks.
- Nutritional content: Different microgreens have different nutritional profiles. For example, some are high in vitamin C or beta-carotene, while others are high in protein or fiber.
- Ease of growing: Some seeds are easier to grow than others, so consider your level of experience before choosing your seeds.
When it comes to purchasing seeds for growing microgreens, you can find them at a variety of places:
- Online seed retailers: There are many online retailers that specialize in microgreen seeds, such as Johnny's Selected Seeds and True Leaf Market.
- Local nurseries and garden centers: Many nurseries and garden centers sell microgreen seeds, so it's worth checking with your local shops.
- Health food stores: Some health food stores carry microgreen seeds as well.
- Specialty wholesale microgreen suppliers: Some companies specialize in supplying microgreens to restaurants and other businesses, and they may sell seeds to individuals as well.
How to Grow Microgreens
Growing microgreens can be an easy and rewarding experience with the right growing conditions. Here are some important factors to consider:
Microgreens need ample light to grow properly, preferably in the range of 12-16 hours of light per day. They can be grown using natural sunlight or using artificial lighting such as grow lights, which can be more efficient and controllable.
Microgreens typically thrive in temperatures ranging from 60°F to 75°F (15°C to 24°C), with a temperature of 70°F (21°C) being ideal. If the temperature is too high or too low, the growth rate and quality of the microgreens may be affected.
Microgreens prefer a humidity level of around 60-70%. Low humidity levels can cause the seedlings to dry out, while high humidity can lead to mold growth. A humidifier or misting system can help maintain proper humidity levels.
Maintaining Proper Conditions for Growing Microgreens: How to Grow Microgreens
- Start with clean, high-quality soil or a hydroponic growing medium.
- Soak the seeds in water for several hours or overnight before planting.
- Spread the seeds evenly over the growing medium, and cover with a thin layer of soil or growing medium.
- Water the microgreens regularly, but be careful not to overwater. The soil or growing medium should be damp, but not waterlogged.
- Keep the growing environment well-ventilated to prevent mold growth.
- Monitor the lighting, temperature, and humidity levels regularly and adjust as needed.
- Harvest the microgreens when they reach the desired size, typically after 7-14 days.
- Rinse the harvested microgreens and store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Preparing Soil or Growing Medium
Soil vs. Soilless Growing Microgreens Mediums
Soil is a natural growing medium made up of a combination of organic and inorganic materials, such as minerals, water, air, and living organisms. It contains essential nutrients that plants need to grow and thrive, but it can also harbor pests and diseases.
Soilless growing mediums, on the other hand, are artificial substrates that do not contain soil. These growing mediums can be made from materials such as peat moss, coconut coir, perlite, vermiculite, and rock wool.
Soilless growing mediums can be sterilized to prevent the growth of pests and diseases, and they can be customized to provide optimal growing conditions for specific plants.
Preparing the Growing Microgreens Medium
- Choose the appropriate growing medium: When choosing a growing medium, consider the type of microgreens you are growing, as well as the conditions in which they will be grown. Soilless growing mediums are often preferred for microgreens, as they can be sterilized and customized to provide the best growing conditions.
- Sterilize the growing medium: If you are using soil, it is important to sterilize it before planting to kill any pests or diseases that may be present. This can be done by baking the soil in an oven at 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes, or by using a commercial sterilization product.
- Add organic matter: If you are using soil, adding organic matter such as compost or worm castings can help improve soil structure and provide essential nutrients for your microgreens.
- Adjust pH: The pH of the growing medium can affect plant growth, so it is important to test the pH and adjust it if necessary. Microgreens typically prefer a slightly acidic pH of around 6.0-6.5.
Adding Nutrients to the Microgreens Growing Medium
Microgreens are typically grown for a short period of time, so it is important to provide them with the nutrients they need to grow quickly and produce high-quality leaves.
- Use a balanced fertilizer: A balanced fertilizer containing equal parts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium can provide essential nutrients for microgreens.
- Apply fertilizer sparingly: Microgreens have small root systems and can be sensitive to over-fertilization, so it is important to apply fertilizer sparingly. A general guideline is to apply fertilizer at a rate of 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon per square foot of growing area.
- Consider organic fertilizers: Organic fertilizers such as fish emulsion, seaweed extract, or compost tea can provide nutrients for microgreens without the risk of chemical buildup in the soil.
- Monitor nutrient levels: As microgreens grow quickly and have a short lifespan, it is important to monitor nutrient levels regularly and adjust fertilizer application as needed to ensure optimal growth and quality.
Best Way to Grow Microgreens in 5 Steps
Growing microgreens is a great way to add fresh greens to your diet, even if you don't have a garden or outdoor space.
Here's how to get started:
- Choosing a container
You can use a variety of containers to grow microgreens, including plastic trays, baking pans, or even recycled containers like egg cartons or take-out containers. Whatever container you choose, make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain out.
- Spreading seeds evenly
Sprinkle your chosen microgreen seeds evenly over the surface of your growing medium. You can use a single type of seed or mix different types together. Aim for a relatively dense but not overcrowded coverage of seeds.
- Watering and covering the seeds
Mist the seeds with water to moisten the soil or growing medium. Cover the container with a clear plastic lid or plastic wrap to create a mini greenhouse effect that helps the seeds to germinate. Place the container in a warm, bright location that receives plenty of natural light.
- Growing Microgreens
After a few days, you should start to see the seeds sprouting. Continue to mist the seeds with water regularly, being careful not to overwater, and keep the container covered until the microgreens have grown to the desired height (usually 1-3 inches). This usually takes 1-2 weeks, depending on the type of seed and growing conditions.
Once your microgreens have reached the desired height, you can harvest them by cutting them just above the soil line with a sharp pair of scissors. Rinse the harvested microgreens in cold water, shake off any excess moisture, and enjoy! You can store the harvested microgreens in the fridge for up to a week.
How to Take Care of Microgreens
Microgreens are a great way to add flavor, texture, and nutrition to your meals. Caring for your microgreens is important to ensure they grow healthy and flavorful.
Here are some tips for caring for your microgreens:
- Watering and Fertilizing
Microgreens require frequent watering to ensure they stay hydrated and grow properly. Water them daily, or as needed, to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Avoid getting water on the leaves as this can promote mold and fungal growth.
Fertilize your microgreens with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer every 1-2 weeks. Use a diluted solution and apply it gently to the soil around the base of the plants.
- Thinning and Pruning
As microgreens grow, they can become crowded, which can lead to stunted growth and poor flavor. To prevent this, thin out your microgreens by removing any weak or damaged plants.
Pruning can also help your microgreens grow better. When the plants reach a height of 1-2 inches, use a clean pair of scissors to trim the tops of the plants to encourage bushier growth.
- Preventing and Treating Pests and Diseases
Pests and diseases can damage your microgreens and prevent them from growing properly. To prevent pests, keep your growing area clean and free of debris. Avoid overwatering, as this can create a breeding ground for pests.
If you do notice pests on your microgreens, try using natural remedies such as neem oil, insecticidal soap, or diatomaceous earth.
Diseases can also be prevented by keeping your growing area clean and well-ventilated. If you notice any signs of disease, such as yellowing leaves or mold growth, remove the affected plants immediately to prevent the spread of the disease.
How to Harvest Microgreens
Microgreens are a delicious and nutritious addition to any dish, and harvesting them at the right time is crucial to ensure maximum flavor and nutritional value. Here are some tips on determining when to harvest, harvesting techniques, and storing and using harvested microgreens.
1. Determining when to harvest
- Look for the first true leaves: The first set of leaves that emerge from the microgreen seeds are called the cotyledons. These are not true leaves and do not contain as many nutrients as the true leaves that follow. Wait until the true leaves have developed before harvesting.
- Check the height: Microgreens should be harvested when they reach a height of 1-2 inches. Any taller than this and they may start to lose flavor and texture.
- Look for signs of maturity: As the microgreens mature, they will start to develop a more complex flavor and may change color slightly. Once they reach this point, they are ready to be harvested.
2. Harvesting techniques
- Use scissors: Using a pair of sharp scissors, cut the microgreens just above the soil line. Be careful not to pull or yank the plants out of the soil, as this can damage the roots of the remaining plants.
- Harvest in batches: If you are growing multiple trays of microgreens, harvest them in batches rather than all at once. This will allow the remaining plants to continue growing and provide a steady supply of fresh microgreens.
- Wash and dry: After harvesting, rinse the microgreens under cool running water and gently pat them dry with a clean towel or paper towel. This will remove any dirt or debris and help them stay fresh longer.
3. Storing and using harvested microgreens
- Refrigerate: Place the microgreens in a plastic bag or container and store them in the refrigerator. They will stay fresh for up to a week.
- Use in a variety of dishes: Microgreens are a versatile ingredient that can be used in salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and more. They add a burst of flavor and nutrition to any dish.
- Experiment with different varieties: There are many different types of microgreens to choose from, each with its own unique flavor and nutritional profile. Experiment with different varieties to find your favorites.
Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Microgreens
What type of soil should I use to grow microgreens?
A lightweight, soilless potting mix is best for growing microgreens. You can also use coconut coir or peat moss.
How do I plant microgreens?
Fill a shallow tray or container with your soilless potting mix. Sprinkle your seeds evenly over the surface of the soil and then cover them with a thin layer of soil. Water gently and keep the soil moist but not waterlogged.
What are some tips for growing microgreens?
Keep your microgreens in a warm, bright location with good air circulation. Water them regularly and avoid overwatering. Use a grow light if you don't have access to enough natural light.
How do I harvest my microgreens?
When your microgreens have reached the desired height, use a pair of scissors to snip them off just above the soil line. Rinse them well and use them immediately, or store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to a week.