If you’ve come across the concept of including microgreens in your diet to up your nutrition intake and are intrigued, you’re not alone. These superfoods are soon gaining popularity around the world as the next big thing in healthy living.
However, if you’ve been on the lookout for microgreens in your local supermarket and haven’t been able to find any, don’t despair. You can grow them by yourself at home quite easily.
One of the biggest advantages of growing microgreens is that they grow quickly and require a very small amount of space. This is what makes them ideal for growing at home.
Since spinach is one of the healthiest, tastiest, and most popular leafy vegetables globally, we’ve decided to walk you through how you can grow spinach microgreens by yourself.
In the following sections, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about growing spinach microgreens, from growth techniques and tips to precautions and FAQs.
Equipment Needed to Grow Spinach Microgreens
Following are the tools and ingredients you’ll require to grow spinach microgreens by yourself:
- A watering can or spray bottle.
- Spinach seeds
- A whole tray or pot
- A tray with holes
- A stand or shelf on which to place the greens
- An adequate supply of water
- A source of light
- Fertile soil along with a sifter
How to Grow Spinach Microgreens in Soil?
In this section, we’ll explore how you can grow spinach microgreens in soil. Make sure you follow all of these steps carefully to ensure your greens grow to be healthy.
Choose the Right Seeds
Arguably, the most important factor that’s worth considering when you want to plant microgreens is selecting the right seeds to plant. Several brands and suppliers sell seeds, but it’s up to you to ensure you’re purchasing only premium quality ones.
In doing so, you’ll be able to grow good quality greens that live long. There are many online stores and nurseries that sell spinach seeds. However, there’s no reason you shouldn’t purchase some from your local retailers.
Seeds that are organically sourced and free from any traces of artificial fertilizers and pesticides or insecticides are your best bet. Non-GMO seeds are a fairly good option too.
If you wish to plant microgreens, you could use mature or regular vegetable seeds, but this is not advisable. Microgreens are growing increasingly popular around the world today, so you likely won’t have much trouble finding these online or in your locality.
Prepare Your Seeds Adequately
The first step you’ll have to take while planting your seeds is to prepare them well before you start tending to the soil, etc. If you would like your seeds to sprout quickly, you can soak them overnight before you go ahead and plant them.
Soaking them also helps ensure you get rid of any chemicals and other impurities that are on the surface of the seeds. If you choose not to soak the seeds, make sure you wash them at least twice in clean water before you plant them.
Prepare Your Soil
You will need fertile soil to plant your microgreen spinach seeds – but not too fertile. The most fertile soil would be required to grow regular spinach. For microgreens, lightly fertilized soil should just about suffice.
If you’re planting the seeds in your garden, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow – nothing fancy, just basic gardening. Similar steps apply if you’re using a pot or another container to place by your windowsill as well.
If you prefer using a container or pot, make sure it’s 2 inches deep in the very least to ensure your seeds have enough place to spread their roots. As for how wide it needs to be, that’s entirely up to you as there’s no minimum requirement as such.
You can then add some potting mix (preferably the organic kind) and level out the soil. You can then plant the seeds at a distance of roughly ¼ inch from each other and add a 1/8-inch layer of soil over them.
If, on the other hand, you’re planting the seeds in your garden, you won’t need to use any potting mix. Instead, you’ll need to loosen up the soil a little bit then level it out. The next steps are quite similar to the ones you’d follow with a pot or container.
You’ll need to scatter the seeds at a distance of about ¼ inches from each other. Once you do this, cover them with roughly 1/8 inch of soil. If you prefer your soil to be finer to enable your seeds to grow into healthy microgreens, you can use a soil sifter to eliminate any large particles.
Water the Seeds
Once the seeds are tucked away in the soil, you’ll need to start watering them. You can use either a watering can or spray bottle to provide your seeds with a little but adequate amount of water to kick start their growth processes.
Start by dampening up the soil as soon as you plant the seeds. You can then move on to watering them twice a day. After a few days of following this routine, you’ll be able to see leaves growing out of the soil where you planted the seeds.
While providing your plants with less water can be a problem, watering them too much can be a problem as well. If you’re using a pot, make sure you don’t use so much so that it starts leaking out the bottom – the idea is to let the soil absorb the water.
Place Them in the Sunlight
We can’t possibly forget the main determinant when it comes to ensuring your microgreens grow up to be healthy and live long – sunlight. Once the seeds have been planted and watered adequately, you can arrange for your little plants to be exposed to sunlight.
When you’ve just planted your seeds, it would be wise to keep them covered up with plastic wrap or a lid until they’ve started sprouting leaves. This typically takes about 3 – 4 days.
Once you begin to spot leaves, you can expose your greens to some sunlight. However, make sure you introduce them to indirect sunlight for the first day or two to avoid burning up the small leaves. You can then start exposing them to direct sunlight to boost their growth.
How to Grow Spinach Microgreens with A Grow Mat?
Using a grow mat may be a more convenient option for those who wish to grow their greens at home. This could also be a quicker method of growing your spinach microgreens.
Following are the steps involved in growing microgreens using a grow mat:
Choose the Right Mat
Grow mats are available in various sizes, so you’ll need to choose one that fits on your shelf or countertop – wherever you’re planning on placing it. Alternatively, you can choose your ideal mat sized based on the size of the tray you’ll be using to plant the seeds.
Plant the Seeds
The steps you’ll need to follow here are very similar to what you’d be doing if you were to plant the seeds directly in your garden. You’ll be placing the seeds at ¼ inch distance from each other and covering them with 1/8 inch of soil.
You’ll then keep them out of the sun for about 3 – 4 days while making sure you water them evenly. Your seeds will then be ready to germinate.
Set the Mat Up
Once your seeds are planted in the tray of your choice, you can set up your warming or grow mat. You simply place your tray (or pot) on top of the mat and plug it in.
While it’s recommended that you plug the mat into a thermostat box, you can plug it directly into your wall if you don’t have one. After all, you’ll be plugging the thermostat box into the wall anyway, so it won’t make that much of a difference.
Monitor the Mat
You’ll need to keep the mat plugged in until you notice that your seeds have started sprouting leaves. It’ll need to be on constantly, even during the nighttime, to ensure your seeds grow quickly.
Spinach grows best in cold weather, so you may want to go easy on the heat once your seeds have sprouted. It won’t need as much e as bottom heat as plants that grow in warmer climates would require, so you’ll have to regulate the heat now and then.
The seeds you’ve purchased may have come with a set of instructions that would include the ideal temperature requirements for spinach microgreens. Take a quick look at these – they might end up saving you several hours of trial and error.
Monitor Your Plants
It is the most crucial factor to take into account when using a grow mat for your spinach microgreens. Just like too much water can inhibit your plants’ growth cycle, too much heat can do the same.
Once your seeds have sprouted, you may want to turn off your mat as the excess heat can damage your plants. Sure, the plants will continue to grow faster than they would without the mat, but they’ll grow to be weak and vulnerable.
Take Adequate Safety Measures
Heating or grow mats are not used very often or preferred over traditional gardening methods. This is because they present the problem of overheating.
As discussed above, overheating can kill your plants before they’ve even matured, thereby pouring all your hard work down the drain. The best way to prevent your mat from overheating is to use a thermostat.
Using a thermostat will give you greater control over the temperature of the grow mat. Most advanced growth mats come with a thermostat that turns the heat off when it exceeds a certain temperature.
Also, another safety concern with regards to grow mats is the wiring. Since the wiring will be in proximity to the plants, it logically follows that it’ll be in proximity to water as well.
Purchasing a mat that has a long enough cord to avoid tangling will prevent it from accidentally getting into contact with water or damp soil.
How to Grow Spinach Microgreens in Wood Shavings?
This may be an unconventional method of growing microgreens, but it’s quickly growing in popularity all the same. Savvy gardeners and gardening enthusiasts have been using wood shavings and sawdust in the garden for a while now.
You can follow these steps to help you grow spinach microgreens using wood shavings:
Choose the Right Shavings
Wood shavings are also referred to as ‘confetti’ in the context of gardening. These offer an eco-friendlier alternative to using growth mats as wood is completely biodegradable.
You’ll need to opt for wood shavings that are typically used to prepare beds for pet animals. These shavings have got to be extremely small as they’re meant to replace soil.
If you so prefer, you can purchase wood shavings that have been designed for gardening purposes. Some of these are even sold for the sole purpose of growing microgreen plants.
Plant the Seeds
When it comes to planting seeds by using this method, the steps you’ll need to follow are the same as those you would when planting the seeds in the soil. However, there’s one significant difference here – instead of using soil, you’ll be using wood shavings.
It sounds odd, but it’s quite useful. You can soak the shavings instead of the seeds in water before you plant them or soak both (separately).
Water the Seeds
The greatest advantage of using wood shavings is that they can hold a greater amount of moisture as compared to soil. It means that you won’t need to water your seeds nearly as many times as you would need to water them if they were placed in soil.
Besides, soaking them initially before you plant the seeds will ensure your plant gets enough moisture from the get-go. This, in turn, will enable you to grow healthy and strong in a short period.
How to Grow Spinach Microgreens on Growing Paper?
This is another unusual but effective method of growing spinach microgreens. Since growing paper is created for the sole purpose of holding moisture, it’s easy to see why it’s used to grow microgreens.
Following are the steps you’ll need to follow to ensure you’re using growing paper properly to grow your spinach microgreens:
Prepare Your Tray
The first step here is taking your growing paper and placing it carefully in a tray in a manner that makes sure you’ve covered all the edges and sides. If you so desire, you can soak the paper for a few hours overnight, that would help speed up the germination process.
Plant the Seeds
If you’ve opted to soak your growing paper, you can soak your seeds at the same time as well. In doing so, you’ll ensure your seeds are moist and ready to sprout leaves as quickly as possible.
Now, to plant the seeds you’ll need to first dry the tray as you place the paper in. You may then scatter the seeds all over the paper and leave them open.
Keep the Paper Moist
After you’ve laid the seeds on the paper, you’ll have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t dry out. If you want your seeds to grow well (or indeed, grow at all), you’ll have to keep the growing paper moist.
You can use a spray bottle to spray the paper constantly. It may take about 3 – 4 days or even a week for the seeds to grow into microgreens.
How Can You Speed Up Growth?
The best and easiest way to speed up the growth of your spinach microgreens is to use a grow mat. As discussed in detail in an earlier section, grow mats can speed up the growth process by providing bottom heat to your seeds.
Grow mats are generally waterproof, so you can be sure they won’t drink up the water you’ll want your plants to absorb. These mats generally amp up the soil temperature by roughly 10 degrees.
While this may be the ideal temperature that allows your seeds to germinate quickly, beware that spinach grows in chilly temperatures. If you end up overheating it, you may kill off the microgreens before they have a chance to grow completely.
Your best bet here would be to switch the mat off once your seeds have started sprouting leaves. It should be somewhere between the 3 and 4-day mark.
Giving your seeds adequate but not too much water and healthy exposure to sunlight can ensure they grow quickly.
What Are the Benefits of Eating Spinach Microgreens?
As the case with spinach, spinach microgreens too contain a host of benefits. They’re known as superfoods around the world today, and for good reason. Let’s explore some of the greatest health and nutritional benefits of eating spinach microgreens entails.
Helps Manage Diabetes
Spinach microgreens contain certain antioxidants that can help lower glucose levels in patients that suffer from diabetes. It also makes their bodies more sensitive to insulin and helps prevent changes brought on by stress.
Lowers Blood Pressure
Spinach and, by extension, spinach microgreens are packed with potassium. It is one of the many minerals that greatly helps lower and regulate blood pressure.
Potassium is considered to be beneficial for those with high blood pressure because it helps neutralize and reduce the effects of sodium intake.
Contains Magnesium and Iron
Magnesium and iron are two minerals that are essential for releasing energy into our bodies. A reduced iron intake can result in your body using up energy inefficiently.
Magnesium helps improve the various functions of the muscles and nerves in your body and helps maintain a steady heartbeat. Not only this, but magnesium also helps boost the functioning of your immune system, leaving you less vulnerable to disease and illness.
What Pests/Diseases Can Damage Microgreens and How to Stop Them?
The growth of microgreens can be affected by quite a few pests and diseases. We’ll discuss just a few of them here:
Aphids are a kind of insect that feed mostly on the undersides of microgreen leaves. They’re usually red, black, or green and can leave a thick residue on your plant bed. This residue, in turn, could end up attracting ants.
You can either use a spray or soap that has insecticide properties to rid your microgreens of these pests for good.
Sclerotinia is a kind of fungus that resembles thin, silky threads across the surface of your microgreen bed. It is quite a dangerous fungus to have around plants as it can kill them in no time.
The best way to avoid the growth of this fungus is to make sure all the supplies you use initially are thoroughly cleaned. It can also occur if you place your seeds too close to each other or place them in an extremely humid environment with no ventilation.
Grey mold, also known as botrytis, can show up on microgreens if it’s been placed in a damp and wet environment. The best way to deal with grey mold is to chop off those plant parts that have been affected by it and make sure the rest of them are receiving adequate sunlight and air circulation.
Also, ensure you water your microgreens only during the daytime to avoid the formation of mold.
In this section, we’ll answer the most commonly asked questions we could find regarding spinach microgreens.
Q – Spinach Microgreens Vs. Spinach Sprouts (Which Is Better?)
A – Generally speaking, eating microgreens is less risky than eating (raw) sprouts. Microgreens usually have higher fiber content and nutritional value than sprouts as well.
Q – How Much Light Do Spinach Microgreens Need?
A – Spinach is accustomed to growing in cold weather, so it doesn’t require too much sunlight to grow. About 4 – 6 hours of sunlight (indirect initially and direct later) would be ideal for your spinach microgreens to grow well.
Q – What Temperature Do Spinach Microgreens Need?
A – Spinach microgreens need between 35 and 75 degrees of heat to grow properly. In the initial stages of their growth (before they sprout leaves), they’ll need closer to 75 degrees of heat.
Q – How Long Do Spinach Microgreens Take to Grow?
A – Arguably, the ideal time to start harvesting your spinach microgreens is past the 10-day mark. This is roughly when you’ll be able to spot some real leaves that indicate they’re ripe for harvest and packed with flavor.
Q – Do Spinach Microgreens Regrow After Harvest?
A – No, spinach microgreens do not regrow after harvest. It is mainly because the first harvest involves chopping off every part of the plant except the end of the stem. This is not enough for the plant to regenerate.
Q – How Should You Harvest Spinach Microgreens?
A – Harvesting spinach microgreens is a fairly simple and straightforward process. You simply chop off those parts of the plant that are visible above the soil.
Q – How Should You Store Spinach Microgreens?
A – Home-grown microgreens generally last longer than those bought at the store. You can store your spinach microgreens in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks to keep them fresh.
Q – Why Are My Spinach Microgreens Falling Over?
A – There could be several reasons behind why your microgreens are falling over, and each of these can be remedied easily. Some of the aforementioned reasons are lack of humidity or light and constant exposure to high temperatures.
Q – What Flavor Do Spinach Microgreens Have And How Do I Use Them?
A – Spinach microgreens taste very much like regular spinach with its leafy, earthy flavors. They are generally used in salads or in main courses to add an extra layer of flavor in the form of light garnishing.
Q – How Do You Prevent Damping Off?
A – Damping-off is a fairly common problem among all kinds of microgreens. To prevent it, you’ll need to make sure you don’t water your seeds too much or don’t place them too close to each other. Also, make sure they’re placed in an area that exposes them to adequate fresh air circulation.
Having gone through the previous sections, you must have a fairly good idea of how you can grow spinach microgreens at home. You can grow them in your garden, in pots, in wood shavings, or (if you want them to grow faster) on a grow mat.
While these methods are quite different from each other, they do have some factors in common. These factors are: giving the plants adequate moisture, light, heat, and air circulation.
It doesn’t matter if you have the most sophisticated tools and equipment. If you don’t keep an eye out for how much water, etc., your microgreens need, you’re in trouble.
Besides, microgreens are vulnerable to pest invasions and diseases just like regular plants, so you’ll have to take steps to protect them from these as well. However, with a bit of extra care, caution, and attention, this shouldn’t be too difficult at all.