Step 1 – Pre Soak
If recommended in the seeds instructions, pre-soak your organic microgreen seeds. Whilst not compulsory it will speed up germination and is as simple as placing your seeds in a jar and adding cold water. After the specified time drain the water and rinse thoroughly. Smaller seeds such as broccoli, kale or alfalfa, or mucilaginous (gel-forming) seeds such as basil or rocket don’t need to be soaked.
Step 2 - Prepare your mats and tray
Our microgreen mats are designed to fit the standard 1020 greenhouse flat size or full-sized English seed tray, which are the same size as our wooden seed trays. The mats are easy to cut into any size or shape you wish, you could even use a dinner plate base quite happily. When using our wooden seed tray, roughly line the tray with a recyclable waterproof material, tin foil or baking paper are usually convenient. You can submerge and soak the mats prior or simply spray generously with your spray bottle once in their tray.
Step 3 - Spread your seeds
Play around with this one, however as a general rule try not to overseed. Each seed should have a one or two “seed length” gap around it, allowing the seeds to breathe and grow tangle-free. Spreading your seeds also reduces the chance of humidity related problems, such as mould.
Should you dramatically under seed, your hydroponic microgreen harvest will at worst look a little anaemic or underwhelming, they will still be perfectly healthy happy plants, so just increase the rate next time. We like to weigh our seeds prior to sowing so that we know the correct rate once we hit the sweet spot for the container we are using at the time. A good even spread is what you are after.
Step 4 - Water and cover
Mist with your spray bottle again. We find it beneficial to spray directly down onto the seeds firming them further into mats fibres. Aggressive spraying from an angle can also cause seeds to be forced off the side of the mats. We also fertilise at this stage.
Keep the seeds humid by placing another tray directly on top and apply weight. A few tinned tomatoes or another tray of growing microgreens works fine. Adding some pressure on top not only forces strong root growth and uniformity in crop height but prevents some seeds such as peas from “levitating” above the grow mat, supported by their main root. This isn’t a major problem, however it does look funny and can complicate harvesting. The most important factor is to maintain a humid environment for the more exposed seeds.
Step 5 - Germinate
Set your tray somewhere where it will not get too hot or cold and check on your seeds from time to time. Mist whenever the mats appear to be drying out, or every 8 - 12 hours. Microgreens grown on coco mats require slightly more misting than on hemp.
Step 6 - Blackout and stretch
Not only forces of nature nutritionally, your germinating microgreens will start to lift their weighted lid as they start to grow. When this happens it's time to remove the lid and start the next step: blackout and stretch.
For long, elegant stems, withhold light for three to five days. This causes your seedlings to etiolate or stretch (the exact opposite of what you want your tomato or lettuce seedlings to do.) then uncover and water gently.
Again, like weighing the trays, this step can be happily omitted. Life is busy, time is short, and we guarantee you will have a perfectly acceptable tray of fresh nutritious living produce if like us, you sometimes skip this step and put them under lights once germinated.
On the other hand, if you’re a passionate, professional and slightly obsessed microgreen grower with an abundance of time to dedicate, feel free to implement the recommended steps as well as to experiment with such things such as the relationships between texture, shelf life and humidity, or the effect different wavelengths have on colour intensity or overall growth using our different LED grow lights.
Step 7- Expose to light
Give your microgreens plenty of light. Natural sunlight during the warmer months is adequate however we highly recommend LED grow lights. By using artificial grow lights, growth will be vertical rather than stretching towards the window. This results in less time and effort on your behalf, and less wasted energy by the plant as you continually turn the tray to straighten them up. The main reason we love growing under lights is the ability to successfully grow in a dark, north-facing room or apartment and still enjoy fresh nutritious living greens, even through the darker winter month.
Step 8- Harvesting
Harvesting microgreens grown on mats is a far easier and cleaner operation than harvesting those grown on soil. You can harvest the same way as you would with soil, by cutting above the mat with sharp kitchen scissors. Compost or brown bin the now used mat. Fast, simple and clean. Growing with our microgreen mats is our method of choice.
We recommend harvesting in the mornings or evenings which increases shelf life and gives a better texture. If you plan to refrigerate your harvest for later, please do so completely dry. We like to refrigerate our microgreens first, then wash them prior to eating. If your greens are a little damp at harvest, use a paper towel and allow them to air dry before storing in the fridge.