I try to find the cheapest, easiest and most cost effective way to grow microgreens safely and healthily. This article will be a gudide to my personal setup to grow microgreens at home.
I use 6 L (6 quarts) plastic storage containers for growing containers. These growing containers are extremely cheap, at 1.5 dollars per box, and strong enough to last 2 to 3 years. These boxes also comes with a lid, which doubles as a humidity dome for germination. And at 5 inches high, these containers can hold 2 inches of growing medium and 3 inches of plant growth.
Overwatering is a big issue for microgreens, which puts the microgreens at risk for fungal infections and asphyxiation. The transparency of the container is tremendously helpful to indicate the amount of water that may be pooling on the bottom.
For indoor artificial lighting, I use 4 ft 5500k LED fixtures. The 5500k color temperature is perfect for growing because it has minimal green color output. This fixture consumes 100W, which translates to 25W per square foot of growing space. At 10,000 lumens, this fixture emits 20,000 lux (1/5th the intensity of daylight).
In order to accomodate the light fixture, I use 4ft long by 6ft tall HDX wire shelves. These shelves are great because they’re cheap and easy to assemble (no tools required). Each shelf can hold up to 5 4 ft. light fixtures, totalling to 20 square feet of growing space.
Although you can get the 3 ft. long wire shelf for half the price, the 3 ft. long wire shelves can only hold up to 12 square feet of growing space. Moreover, most light fixtures are either 2ft. or 4ft. long, which limits your options significantly.
For watering microgreens, I use tap water. I don’t pre-filter the water to reduce the amount of chlorine or minerals because it doesn’t impact the growth or nutrient quality.
While you can add rock dust or sodium selenite to the water to enrich it. I prefer to add minerals to the growing medium instead.
With regards to irrigation, automated watering systems don’t save any time unless you're growing in a large scale. If you are planning on automating watering, you can easily set up a drip irrigation system easily with pipes and watering timers.
The growing medium that I use for growing microgreens is a custom seedling mix. It consists of peat moss and vermiculite at a ratio of 10:1 by weight. The reason why I peat moss is because it has good aeration and water absorbing properties.
Vermiculite further increases aeration and moisture availability, which not only buffer user error, but also increase germination rate.
I also add Nitrogen to a final concentration of 0.5% by weight. Peat moss is devoid of nitrogen, and additional nitrogen helps to support growth periods longer than 1 week.
To enrich the growing medium with selenium, add 10 ug sodium selenite per ml of growing medium. Make sure to get selenium from a reputable company like Sigma Aldrich.
The seeds that I use are purchased fromm amazon, grocery store and local suppliers. Microgreen seeds are not different than sprouting seeds, which is convenient because sprouting seeds are easier to find in bulk.
The prices of seeds are not linearly scalable. Seeds costs exponentially more to buy seeds in smaller quantities than bulk. A small 10g seed packet of quinoa will cost you about 3-4 dollars, while a 450g bag of quinoa will cost about 15 dollars.
I only use organic seeds when available. It's difficult to get organic seeds for some species of plants, and expect to pay 1.5 to 2 times more than regular seeds. The reason I use organic seeds is because I try to limit my exposure to herbicides and pesticides as much as possible.
Keep in mind that for each gram of seed, the yeilds will be at least double the weight of seeds seeded (exception of peas). This is because the seeds soak up water which will at least double their weight. When yeilds are taken into account, the cost of growing your own microgreens will be similar to the vegetables you get at the supermarket.
Microgreens have 5 to 10 times the amount of cancer fighting phytochemicals. So you save money by eating less vegetables. Microgreens are very affordable to the average consumer, and it’ll actually save you money in the long run because of the added health benefits.
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.