Growing Microgreens Hydroponically Food Revolution
Growing Microgreens Hydroponically. At its most basic, hydroponic gardening entails substituting water for the soil that plants usually grow in. All of the nutrients that plants need come from fertilizer solutions that are diluted in water.
Additionally, hydroponics enables farmers to control every aspect of the environment to ensure the best conditions for the growth of the plants. This includes growing plants indoors. As a result, farming in this manner has a number of advantages, such as higher yields, fewer inputs, and fewer diseases.
This method of hydroponic microgreen cultivation has many advantages for nearby communities. High-end restaurants are interested in these nutrient-dense foods, which can sell for a premium and are simple and quick to grow.
image of Growing Microgreens Hydroponically
How Do Microgreens Work?
Microgreens were first used by creative chefs to add color, flavor, texture, and interest to food in California. Microgreens are now offered as a premium item in supermarkets all over the world. They are frequently used as salad toppings, garnishes, and flavorings and are common in upscale eateries and top-rated cookbooks.
These microgreens are much smaller than a baby salad leaf and typically only have two leaves after the cotyledons, or seedling leaves, have grown. Microgreens must be grown in high density to achieve maximum yields because they can be harvested from a small crop at a very young age.
Nowadays, a wide variety of plants are grown as microgreens, and their requirements go beyond just taste and appearance. For instance, when producers have concentrated on their healthy compounds and properties, both the health food industry and home gardeners have discovered niche markets for certain crops.
One such example is wheatgrass, which has long been grown as a health supplement and is now also grown and sold as a microgreen. Other very healthy plants that can be grown as microgreens include flax, chia, broccoli, radish, and red brassica.
The Benefits of Microgreens
Microgreens are the perfect crop for container farmers or indoor gardeners. They don’t require a lot of space and grow quickly. Given their high planting density, it is simple to harvest a high yield from them. Additionally, because microgreens can command higher prices than traditional horticultural varieties, their profit margins are more favorable.
Depending on the size and objectives of your operation, microgreens can be easily grown on a warm, sunny windowsill or integrated into a sophisticated hydroponic vertical farm system. Although growing microgreens optimally at high densities while maintaining quality requires some skill, their wide variety of species and consumer appeal make them an excellent commercial proposition for growers looking to diversify their hydroponic offerings.
Which Microgreen Varieties Can You Grow?
Microgreens come in four main varieties, all of which can grow well and quickly in a hydroponic system. They are excellent candidates for a shipping container farm because they thrive in both indoor and outdoor environments.
tendrils and shoots
Pea, sunflower, and corn shoots are included in this category. These microgreens are frequently used as garnishes, but their flavor is light enough to enhance rather than overpower any dish.
The plants that have a strong flavor make up the second category of microgreens. The majority of people either love or detest the flavor of these microgreens, which is sharp, crisp, and “peppery.” These microgreens include mustards, radish, arugula, cress, and arugula.
These microgreens can typically be used as finishing touches or decorative accents on your plate, but they are also well-known for their distinctive flavors, which can be used to add depth to a variety of dishes and cuisines. Parsley, fennel, edible chrysanthemums, cilantro, basil, French sorrel, mint, dill, chives, onion, and shisho are included in this category (perilla).
These microgreens have a wide variety of flavors, making them probably the most varied of the four categories. Tender greens include tatsoi, mizuna, amaranth, chard, and kale. They also include red cabbage, broccoli, spinach, corn salad, endive, chicory, celery, and carrot.
The best microgreens to grow hydroponically for beginners
You might want to start with one or a few of these microgreens if you are new to hydroponically growing microgreens. All of them produce uniform, dense stands that are simple to harvest. You can grow them in this specific combination to produce a plate with a nice variety of tastes and textures, as well as an aesthetically pleasing garden full of various colors and shapes.
- Basil: A vibrant blend of green, purple, and variegated leaves. distinctly sweet garnish
- Mild but distinctly mustard-flavored. Bright green cotyledons contrast with dark purple leaves.
- One of the microgreens with the quickest growth is radish. strong, dark red stems. Radishes are lofty and give micro mixes weight and volume.
- Cress: flavor of hot peppers. fancy leaves with three lobes. Excellent selection for all levels of growers that grows quickly.
- Cilantro: leaves with a frill. Clean, fresh scent; delicate flavor. As opposed to whole-seed cilantro, monogerm is easier to germinate and loses its seed coat more quickly.
Why Should Microgreens Be Grown in Hydroponic Systems?
The advantages of hydroponically growing microgreens are largely the same as those of any other type of plant. There are some, though, that apply specifically to microgreens.
Benefits of hydroponically growing microgreens
Utilize less water
Water is recycled in hydroponic systems. In comparison to conventional soil-based systems, you can therefore anticipate using up to 20 times less water.
The ability to grow anywhere
A hydroponic setup can flourish in a variety of settings, including your basement, garage, rooftop, or even inside a shipping container, unlike a soil-based farm, which is best managed outdoors in a field. This not only gives you more freedom, but it also enables you to grow your microgreens all year round rather than just during certain seasons.
When microgreens are grown hydroponically, you can precisely control not only how much of each nutrient they receive but, if they are grown indoors, you can also completely control other environmental factors like temperature, water pH, and more. With such accuracy, hydroponics can be adjusted to provide the ideal pH, temperature, and fertilizer balances for each microgreen to flourish.
If you are growing crops traditionally, composting is the best thing you can do for the health and fertility of your soil. Composting, however, requires both space and time to produce. If spilled, it may also result in unwelcome messes. This problem is easily avoided because hydroponic systems don’t require any compost.
No soil-borne illnesses
The majority of crop diseases are soil-borne. When you remove the soil from your farming system, you also remove any soil-borne illnesses that might have a negative impact on your yields.
Because their roots don’t spread out as much in search of nutrients, hydroponic plants can be planted closer together than their soil-based counterparts, grow all year round, and can be stacked vertically to maximize space upwards. The average annual yield per hectare of a hydroponic farm can be several times higher than the yield of a conventional soil field due to these three factors taken together. Furthermore, some microgreens, such as wheatgrass, kale, and kohlrabi, thrive in hydroponic systems.
Avoid putting dirt on your food.
High sowing rates and plant densities are necessary when growing microgreens. This may result in the plant retaining microscopic fragments of substrate when growing in soil. Since microgreens are typically not washed after harvest, it is possible for soil granules to stay in the food, increasing the chance that the consumer will be left with crunchy grit. Hydroponically growing microgreens effectively avoids this issue.
Placing a hydroponic microgreens system in place
Depending on your capabilities and objectives, you can grow these microgreens in systems of varying complexity. Anything from a simple, flat kitchen tray that is manually watered to a complex aeroponic or nutrient film system with precisely controlled environments arranged vertically in shipping containers and managed by cutting-edge technology.
Always start with seeds that have been developed specifically for growing microgreens. These seeds won’t have received any fungicide or other chemical treatments, and they only contain a small percentage of non-plant material. This is especially important if you intend to grow microgreens of corn, peas, or spinach, which are plants whose seeds are frequently treated with fungicide.
The best capillary pad or thin mat for hydroponic microgreen production holds the seed in place and helps it retain moisture for germination. Even paper towels, burlap or rockwool sheets, or even a thin kitchen cloth, can be used. All of these can be utilized to raise a wholesome, high-quality crop on a budget.
Some microgreen varieties have mucilaginous seeds, which means that when they are moistened, they develop a thick, gelatinous layer that retains moisture. Examples of mucilaginous seeds include basil and cress. Before sowing, they don’t need to be pre-soaked.
Planting and germination
The microgreen seeds need light and nutrients to grow the best possible product as soon as they begin to sprout. At this stage, propagation lamps are excellent as long as they don’t emit too much heat because this could damage the delicate foliage (read also: Hydroponic Seed Germination).
The young plant is beginning to photosynthesize once the seedling leaves (cotyledons) are visible, and nutrients will be absorbed by the root system.
For the most part, a general-purpose seedling nutrient formula is sufficient for the growth of microgreens. The growing surface retains enough moisture around the roots between waterings during the drainage phase that comes after the application of the nutrient solution.
Typical Microgreen Issues and Solutions
While hydroponic systems are able to reduce some of the common problems that soil-based crops experience, they are not without their own drawbacks. Rot and disease brought on by excessive watering or high humidity are some of the main problems microgreens encounter.
Too much moisture or humidity in the air promotes the growth of bacteria and fungi on and around the plants. The answer is straightforward: all that’s needed to get rid of the moisture in the air is a little light air movement, which can be achieved, for instance, by using portable fans.
Microgreens frequently struggle with the possibility of growing too tall and bending downward. This is problematic because it makes harvesting challenging. Here, timing is everything, so keep an eye on the crops as they get close to the ideal harvesting height. Choose seeds that have been bred to remain on the shorter side as an alternative.
In conclusion, hydroponically growing microgreens is a sensible, long-lasting, and potentially lucrative method of growing these plants.
There are many advantages to hydroponics that conventional soil-based methods cannot match. They are also adaptable enough to thrive in high-tech, fully commercial urban hydroponic farm settings as well as low-tech, low-input systems like a tank on the kitchen windowsill.
Growing microgreens indoors, such as in a shipping container, can benefit local communities in a variety of ways, including by enhancing food security and enhancing access to high-quality, nutrient-dense foods. Indoor hydroponic farming of microgreens and other plants should be seriously considered if we are to meet the increasing caloric demands of the growing global population by 2050, especially in inner cities where food deserts are rampant and healthy food is sold at a premium out of reach for many local residents.
FAQ Growing Microgreens Hydroponically
Do hydroponic microgreens need nutrients?
Nutrient solution: Microgreens can germinate without the application of fertilizer. However, providing mineral nutrients to microgreens will increase yields. Providing 75 to 150 ppm N of a complete, balanced, water soluble fertilizer will promote growth, although the concentration used depends on your production system.
How long does hydroponic microgreens take to grow?
This method is very simple, compact, clean and requires very little stuff. Since microgreens can be harvested within 10 to 15 days, water changes or the addition of fertilizer is not necessary. Easy to grow easy to harvest. it tastes very fresh and crunchy.
Is it better to grow microgreens in water or soil?
One of the biggest advantages that soil has is the fact that it produces better yields. There is a higher yield, and the plant feels tastier and more natural. For that reason, growing microgreens in natural soil is a better option than growing them in hydroponics.
What is the difference between hydroponics and microgreens?
What is Hydroponic Microgreens? At the most basic level, hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. Your microgreens spend their lives in a water-based environment. They will only receive nutrients and oxygen from the water, not absorbing them from the soil.
Which is healthier sprouts or microgreens?
The results of this study showed that the sprouts were effective in antioxidant capacity due to the high content of polyphenols and L-ascorbic acid. In addition, sprouts are a better source of amino acids, pectin, and sugar than leafy greens.
What are the fastest growing microgreens?
Radishes are the fastest growing microgreens and must be harvested before their first true leaves develop. A family should have no problem using a Home Microgreen Tray full of turnip microgreens before they need to harvest and store them in the fridge.
What is the shelf life of microgreens?
As a fresh cut product, microgreens are characterized by a relatively short shelf life, no more than 10-14 days.
Are microgreens profitable?
Microgreens are one of the most profitable plants you can grow. They can be grown in small spaces and can sell for $50 per pound or more, making them an ideal crop for small farms and urban growers.
Which microgreens grow back after being cut?
1. Peanut Shoots. Pea shoots are one of those micro plants that grow back after being cut. They are popular because they are not only delicious but also nutritious.
Can you grow microgreens only in water?
If the necessary growing conditions are maintained, microgreens can be grown in water, without using soil. They are what we call hydroponically grown microgreens where water is the medium that supplies air, moisture, and nutrients to the roots.
Are hydroponic vegetables healthy?
The bottom line is it depends on the nutrient solution in which the vegetables are grown, but hydroponically grown vegetables can be just as nutritious as those grown in soil.
Do you need a grow mat for microgreens?
Microgreen planting mats can be a savior for hydroponic microgreen cultivation. They can make the process easier for you. Plus, they can make preparation, cultivation, and harvesting a little easier to understand for those just starting out in hydroponics. However, using it can be expensive in the long run.
Can you reuse soil when growing microgreens?
After you harvest, the microgreens don’t grow back. For a sustainable supply, you can reuse the soil by turning it over. Sow the seeds, and cover with another layer of soil. The roots of the previous plant will make a mat that will eventually compost itself, says Fitzpatrick, “so everything is very self-sufficient.”
What soil is best for microgreens?
Best Medium For Microgreens Peat-based mixtures (either coco peat or peat) with vermiculite and perlite work best. Commercial garden soil varieties are not the best medium for microgreens because they are too dense and don’t allow roots to penetrate and grow.
Can I grow microgreens without soil?
Fortunately, the answer is yes. Microgreens are harvested so early in their development that they don’t need soil or even a nutrient solution. This makes it ideal if you don’t have room for a potting mix bag and prefer not to deal with cleaning.