The practice of growing microgreens is slowly taking over gardening activities. Microgreens are a little taller than sprouts, just about a height of 6 inches. Some are shorter, about 3 inches. It depends on when the first real leaves appear.
Chia plants are hardy and quickly adapt to different environmental conditions. Growing chia microgreens is an excellent idea considering all the benefits that come with eating them. You can be sure to have a healthy treat of these nutritious microgreens all through the year.
The growing process takes only a few days, and you can harvest your microgreens. Repeat the process as many times as you want, always to have them whenever you need them. It doesn’t matter whether you are growing them for profit or household use; chia microgreens will an excellent project for you.
This article explains how to easily grow chia microgreens in different growing media, the gains of eating chia microgreens, and answers the most frequently asked questions. Read through to know how you can best grow your microgreens.
Equipment Needed to Grow Chia Microgreens
You’ll require some equipment for a successful growth process. Let’s look at what you need.
- Grow tray/container – It comes in different sizes, so you choose the size you prefer. You’ll need a grow tray to hold the medium where you will grow your chia microgreens.
- Certified organic seeds – You can get the best seeds from recommended stores. Be sure to check whether they are organic and free of fungicides. The quality of seeds you get will determine the quality of the microgreens.
- Growing medium – This can be soil, grow mat, growing paper, or wood shavings. These different media will be explained clearly further in this article to use each of them to grow chia microgreens.
- Spray bottle – You’ll use a spray bottle to water the growing medium after sowing the chia seeds. Using a watering can erode the seeds before they germinate.
- Plant labels – You’ll need to mark the container and indicate the dates so that you can closely monitor their growth. If you already have other microgreens growing, marking the container will help you separate them and pay attention to each of them accordingly.
- Grow Lights – Your chia microgreens will need sufficient light for several hours every day. If you have access to natural sunlight, that is excellent. However, you can get grow lights, which will be useful on dull days.
- A circulating fan – This will apply if you cannot get air to flow to and from the growing seedings freely. The circulating fan will effectively cause air movement so that fresh air can get to the seedlings.
How to Chia Microgreens in Soil?
Step 1 – Get the Soil Ready as Your Grow Area
Prepare the potting soil and put it in the growing tray or container. You can get a quality growing tray from online stores or a garden store in your area. Alternatively, use any container from the kitchen that is no longer in use.
Ensure that your growing tray or container has holes on the underside to allow excess water to flow out and maintain the required soil moisture. Flatten the soil surface because the chia seeds will fall and germinate from there. This will allow your microgreens to grow evenly.
Step 2 – Sow the Chia Seeds
Sprinkle the chia seeds evenly on the flat soil surface. Use your fingers or a shaker to distribute the seeds. Ensure that you don’t sprinkle too many seeds in one place so that they can grow well with enough space to grow properly.
After distributing the seeds, gently place a layer of the soil to cover the seeds. Use a spray bottle to water the seeds until the right moisture content is reached. Be careful not to flood the container with water so that the seeds can germinate properly. Place them in a dark place or cover the container with aluminum foil to allow the seeds to germinate first.
Step 3 – Check on the Microgreens Regularly
The chia begins to germinate in about 2-3 days, so you need to keep checking so that you can move them to the light on the first day you see the shoots. Ensure that they are exposed to direct sunlight or that the grow lights are well-positioned for several hours in a day.
Keep checking the soil moisture regularly and add water is necessary. You should look out for any molds that may form on the container or any pests attacking the microgreens at this stage. In a few days, the chia microgreens will be ready for harvest.
Step 4 – Harvesting
When you decide to harvest the microgreens, reduce the amount of water you add to them for about 8-12 hours. This ensures they are a bit dry when you are harvesting and, therefore, better storage.
Harvest the microgreens by cutting the stalks near the soil. Rinse them in clean cold water before serving them.
How to Grow Chia Microgreens in A Grow Mat?
Grow mats help you grow your chia microgreens hydroponically without soil.
Here’s a guide on how to grow the microgreens using a grow mat
Step 1 – Get the Water to Use Ready
You’ll need to use water of about a pH of 5.5 – 6.5 so that the chia seeds can grow effectively. Test the water’s pH and add wood ash or lime to raise the pH or add phosphoric acid to lower it. You can also decide to add your nutrients to the water as they grow mat does not have sufficient ingredients for the proper growth of the chia microgreens.
Step 2 – Prepare the Grow Mat
The grow mat should be the same size as the growing tray, approximately 10″ by 20″ in size. Place your grow mat in the already prepared water and nutrients solution. Let it rest in the solution for a few minutes, then remove it to drain excess water.
Gently place it into your growing container/tray. Check the moisture to ensure it’s enough for chia seeds’ growth, and it is as recommended.
Step 3 – Sow the Chia Seeds
Every microgreen has its recommended seed density; therefore, check the manufacturer’s recommendation for the chia seeds. Evenly distribute the chia seeds so that they fit the recommended density.
You can now mist them using a spray bottle to reach the required moisture content. Cover the container with aluminum foil or another same-sized container that is lightproof. Keep the seeds covered until they begin to germinate. Open the covering often to check for molds and also to water them.
Step 4 – Remove the Lightproof Covering
After 2-3 days, the chia seeds will begin to germinate. When you see the first shoot, know it’s time to remove the covering and expose the seedlings to light. The light will help them make food and grow faster.
Do not use the spray bottle to water them at this stage; rather, use a watering can. Always check the microgreens for any kind of pests or diseases that may affect them. It’s crucial to ensure that there’s sufficient air circulation in the place where the microgreens are growing.
Step 5 – Harvesting
In about 10-12 days, your chia microgreens are grown enough for harvest. Grab your kitchen scissors and cut the stalks just about the grow mat. Rinse them properly in cold water and serve or store them to eat later.
How to Grow Chia Microgreens in Wood Shavings?
Wood shavings are an excellent alternative growing medium for the chia microgreens. You can get finely sized wood shavings suitable for this project from your local garden store. Just like soil, using wood shavings can be a messy activity.
Here are steps to follow when using wood shavings to grow your chia microgreens for use:
Step 1 – Have A Ready Grow Tray or Container
When using wood shavings, you’ll require a grow tray that doesn’t have any holes. You can also use a pot or a take-out container, which you find a good option. Clean it properly to get rid of any organisms that can pose a threat to the microgreens.
Step 2 – Put the Grow Tray with Wood Shavings
Fill the grow tray entirely with the wood shavings and ensure that the surface is even and flattened out. This is to ensure that the microgreens grow evenly on the wood shavings.
Step 3 – Sow the Chia Seeds
After preparing the growing area and flattening the surface, it’s now time to sow the seeds. Use your fingers or a shaker to distribute the seeds up to the recommended optimum density evenly. You can add a topping of the wood shaving to cover the seeds.
Use a spray bottle to water the wood shavings and the seeds to ensure that it has the right moisture content. Be careful not to overwater it. After that, you can cover the container or place it in a dark corner in the room so that the seeds can germinate away from the light.
Step 4 – Monitor the Germination of The Seeds
You’ll need to keep checking the container to ensure that it has the right moisture and that no molds are growing on the container. You can add some water if needed.
When you notice the seeds germinating, remove the covering and place the container on a windowsill where the seedlings can receive direct sunlight. You can also use grow-lights in case you have no access to direct sunlight. The light will ensure that the microgreens grow speedily as they can now make their food.
Step 5 – Harvest Time
The harvesting for chia microgreens will be best if done when the first true leaves appear. This happens after about 10-12 days after sowing the seeds. You can harvest using your kitchen scissors. Cut the stalks close to the wood shavings.
Rinse the chia microgreens thoroughly in cold water before serving or storing them. The cold water helps remove any organisms and dirt that may have settled on the microgreens.
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How to Grow Chia Microgreens on Growing Paper?
A growing paper is an excellent medium for growing your microgreens. Unlike soil and wood shavings that create quite a mess, the growing paper will keep the whole process clean and pathogen-free. Let’s look at how you can use a growing paper to grow your microgreens.
Step 1 – Get A Growing Paper as The Growing Area
Purchase a quality growing paper specifically made from growing microgreens and sprouts. You can also use a filter paper or a paper towel. After deciding on what you want to use, place it so that it fits in the grow tray. The grow tray should not have any holes at the bottom.
Step 2 – Soak the Paper
After placing the growing paper in the grow tray, add water to it and wait for it to soak for a few hours. Drain the water carefully from the growing paper removing the excess water.
Step 3 – Sow the Seeds
Spread the seeds evenly on the wet growing paper, enough to fit the required amount without overcrowding. You can then cover the grow tray with aluminum foil or any lightproof material to keep away the light. Alternatively, place the container in a dark corner in the room to allow the seeds to grow in the dark.
Step 4 – Keep Checking
Always check the seeds to ensure that the growing paper has enough moisture to facilitate their germination. If the moisture is not enough, you can add water using a spray bottle to displace the seeds.
Once they begin to germinate, remove the covering and place the grow tray on the windowsill where the seedlings can get direct sunlight. If there is no sunlight, you can consider using grow lights so that your microgreens can get sufficient light.
Step 5 – Harvesting
The harvesting process is easy as you’ll only need a pair of scissors or a sharp blade. When they start showing their first true leaves, know it’s time to harvest. Cut the stalks just above the growing paper, rinse them in cold water, and store or serve immediately.
How Can You Speed Up Growth?
The standard growth period takes about 14 days. Most of them are ready in 10-12days. There are things you can do to speed up the growth process.
For example, you can increase the soil temperature by using a heat mat, which can raise the container’s temperature or grow-tray by up to 10° C above the temperature in the room. A warmer environment will speed up the growth process.
You can also add nutrients and fertilizers to the microgreens to ensure that they that enough food and nutrients to grow fast. Consult with your local garden store to know what the best fertilizers to use are.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Chia Microgreens?
Here are some of the health benefits that come from eating chia microgreens:
They Improve Cardiovascular and Bone Health
Chia microgreens are very rich in calcium, which is known for strengthening bones and teeth. Calcium also helps to maintain optimum cardiovascular health by improving heart health and its ability to pump blood effectively in the body.
It also has a lot of phosphorous, which is beneficial for heart health. It also helps to ensure nutrients and oxygen circulates effectively across the body.
They Promote Brain Health
Chia microgreens have omega-3 fatty acids, which help to improve brain function and cognitive abilities. Their strong effect on the brain has been proven to prevent the occurrence of Alzheimer’s disease.
They Help Boost Blood Health
Chia microgreens are loaded with vitamins such as Vitamin K, C, A, and E. These vitamins are necessary for perfect blood constitution and health. The potassium and iron in the microgreens help to boost platelet count and improve immunity.
They Help Improve Digestion
Chia microgreens have high fiber that increases bulk in the food and therefore boosting digestion. Fiber reduces the chances of constipation and allows for an easy bowel movement.
What Pests/Diseases Can Damage Microgreens and How to Stop Them?
Even though microgreens require only a short period to be ready, you’ll need to be on the lookout for some pests and diseases that can affect them in that short time.
Some of them are:
This is the most common problem that faces the growth of microgreens. It is caused by a fungus that does well when there is too much water or using nitrogen fertilizers in excess. It’s hard to notice it because the seeds germinate well without warning signs and then wilts and die off as they continue to grow.
To avoid this problem, always ensure that the growing medium is not overwatered. Keep the moisture at moderate levels as well as sufficient air circulation. Proper air circulation will prevent the fungi from growing and ensure that your microgreens are healthy and grow without falling off.
You will know this disease by noticing grey molds on the leaves of the microgreens. This condition thrives in wet & cold environments. You can pluck out the affected areas and leave the rest to continue growing.
To prevent Botrytis, you should stop using a spray bottle to water the microgreens after sprout; instead, use a watering can to water them. You should water your microgreens during the day, aiming to the side and not the leaves. Proper air circulation will ensure that the fungi don’t grow further.
They are caused by pathogens that thrive in excess water. If your medium of growing the microgreens is always flooded, the microgreens may be affected by root rots.
If you notice this condition in your microgreens, you can pluck the affected seedlings and leave the rest to grow. To avoid this condition, ensure that your grow tray or container has a proper drainage system to allow excess water to drain.
This condition comes as a result of little or no exposure of the microgreens to sunlight or grows light. It can also come when the microgreens are not receiving adequate nutrients because of overcrowding. You can identify it by observing the yellow color that forms on the microgreens’ leaves and stalks.
To prevent this condition, ensure that your microgreens receive enough sunlight. You can place the grow tray on the windowsill or use grow lights that mimic the sunlight. Also, ensure you use some fertilizer in your growing medium to provide enough nutrients for the microgreens.
You can also space out the overcrowded microgreens by plucking out some of them. When sowing the seeds, ensure that you distribute them evenly on the growing medium using your fingers or a shaker.
It looks like a spider web. It’s commonly referred to as white mold and forms on the growing medium. It can infect the plants because of it can climb up the plants. This disease thrives most when there are high humidity and stuffy air.
Check the humidity in the room with the microgreens and ensure proper air circulation. If you see overcrowded plants, you can remove some of them to create space and allow the other microgreens to grow well.
Some of the pests are:
They appear on the underside of the leaves of the microgreens in different colors: red, green, peach, and black. The aphids leave a sticky residue on the leaves and attract other ants.
Use insecticidal soap to flash them from the microgreens. Alternatively, attract natural predators like wasps, which eat them.
They eat the foliage and destroy the plants. The solution is to practice crop rotation with other crops so that the flea beetles die.
They feed on the leaves of the microgreens creating a big hole in them. You can find them out because they leave a trail of mucus. They feed mostly at night and in wet conditions.
To control them, pick them at night when they are feeding or set traps for them using beer and cornmeal. They will feed on the cornmeal and die because they can’t digest it.
Chia Microgreens Vs Chia Sprouts (Which Is Better?)
Chia microgreens are an excellent choice as they contain more nutrients compared to chia sprouts. Microgreens are easier to grow and eat. The difference between chia microgreens and chia sprouts is the time they are allowed to grow.
How Much Light Do Chia Microgreens Need?
Chia microgreens need at least 12 hours of direct sunlight or fluorescent light from the grow lights every day. After the chia seed has germinated, you can place the grow tray on the windowsill where the seedlings can access direct sunlight for at least 12 hours every day. If you can not get enough sunlight, be sure to use grow-lights to supplement the required light.
What Temperature Do Chia Microgreens Need?
The temperature requirement ranges from 18°C to 24°c to ensure optimum growth. Temperatures above or below 24°C can contribute to the thriving of diseases that affect microgreens, and in some cases, it can inhibit germination. Use a heating mat to raise the temperatures in the grow mat to the required temperature limits so as to accelerate the growth of the microgreens.
How Long Do Chia Microgreens Take to Grow?
It will take about four days for the chia seeds to germinate. After exposing them to sunlight and continuing to take care of the sprouts, it will take about ten days to reach the required height or develop the first true leaves. This is an indication that it is time to harvest them.
Do Chia Microgreens Regrow After Harvest?
Yes. Chia microgreens regrow after cutting the stalks. However, the taste of the regrown chia microgreens may differ from the first lot. For consistency in taste, it is advisable to start the growing process from the beginning.
How Should You Harvest Chia Microgreens?
The harvest process is pretty simple. You can simply cut the stalks using a pair of kitchen scissors or a sharp blade near the medium level.
How Should You Store Chia Microgreens?
After harvesting the chia microgreens, rinse them in cold water to prepare them for storage. Wrap them in a paper towel and cover them in a sealed bag. Place them in your vegetable cabinet in the refrigerator. You can always check to replace the paper towel as often as needed.
Why Are My Microgreens Falling Over?
Falling over can indicate that your microgreens are ready for harvest. They are accumulating weight that their feeble stalks cannot handle. Unless they are affected by diseases, microgreens begin to fall over when it’s time to harvest them.
Chia Microgreens Flavor + How to Use Them?
Chia microgreens are deliciously bitter – not too bitter, just enough to add a delicious taste to your salad. You might want to add some sweet orange to your salad to alter the bitter chis flavor. They are eaten best in salads at least 2-3 days after harvesting.
How Do You Prevent Damping Off/Why Is Air Movement Important?
As discussed earlier, damping-off comes as a result of excess water in the growing medium. To prevent damping off, ensure that the medium has the recommended moisture.
Air movement plays a considerable role in preventing damping off by ensuring that the excess humidity is cleared.
Chia microgreens can be grown quickly, just like other microgreens. You can grow them in different media, such as soil, growing paper, grow mat, and wood shavings.
Some pests and diseases affect microgreens, so you must pay attention to your microgreens during the growing process.