You're probably wondering whether growing microgreens are financially sustainable. Online seed stores sells microgreens seed packets at exorbitant prices.
The bottom line is that there is no difference between microgreen seeds and regular seeds. However, certain varieties of vegetables are more suited for microgreens or sprouts. They typically germinate and grow quicker than regular or heirloom varieites, but doesn't necessarily translate to increase health benefits.
This article is a buyer's guide for purchasing seeds: sourcing organic seeds, expiration dates, germination and yeilds.
Sourcing organic seeds is more critical than organic vegetables. The concentration of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides is typically regulated only for the parts of the plants that are sold, which excludes seeds.
Plants invest most of their energy and nutrients into the next generation. As a result, nutrients, herbicides and pesticides are concentrated in the seeds.
You will inevitably ingest herbicides and pesticides in non-organic seeds. Consuming carcinogenic agents with your microgreens defeats the entire purpose of microgreens.
For peas, amaranth, quinoa or buckwheat, I typically get brand name organic seeds from Bob's Red Mill or Foods to Live. You can find broccoli and radish seeds just about everwhere in bulk.
Avoid getting treated seeds. While antifungals may prevent seedlings from damping off, you're better off preventing fungus by maintaining lower humidity during the growth period..
Seeds are fully differentiated tiny plants with food packets. They’re consuming their energy packets in order to wait for the perfect temperature and moisture for germination.
In general, for every year that seeds sit in storage, its germination rate decreases by about 10 - 30%. They are also more likely to be spoilt by fungi and bacteria depending on their storage conditions.
Always buy seeds from stores that have a high turnover rate and not sitting on a shelf somewhere.
This also means that you should just buy for what you’re consuming for the year. Never buy hundreds of pounds of seeds unless you’re growing them commercially.
Not all vegetables are suited for growing microgreens. For example, spinach would make a great microgreen to grow if it wasn't for their low germination rate and slow initial growth.
The general rule of picking the right vegetable is to look at two factors: growth rate and cost of seeds. Ideally, vegetables grown for microgreens should grow to harvest size two to three weeks after seeding.
Grains and legumes such as peas and buckwheat makes for perfect microgreens because of their inexpensive seeds and quick growth rate. Since these vegetables are grown for its seeds, buying seeds in bulk will save you a lot of money because of economies of scale.
Broccoli and turnip are both quick maturing vegetables, allowing consumers to get cheap and plentiful seeds. In general, you can get cheap seeds from vegetables with less than 60 days maturation time.
Basil is an exception to the rule. While its seeds are slightly more expensive than turnip and broccoli, basil is a slow growing vegetable. When yeilds are taken into account, basil costs 3 times more expensive than broccoli.
And if you’re really the bargain basement type, there are seeds in the grocery store than you can easily grow such as flax and mustard.
Microgreen seeds are usually open pollinated to reduce costs. While quick growing varieties like 'cherry belle' radish can still be found for 30 dollars a pounds, it's far more expensive than mixed radishes that can be found for as low as 15 dollars a pound.
I am the author of this website and owner of growyourmicrogreens.com. I am an hobbyist gardener and a passionate scientist. I was trained as a scientist in the Molecular Genetics program in University of Toronto, where I received my Masters of Science and published a journal article.