What you should know about growing Microgreens at home

Nothing beats growing microgreens if you want to save money and eat fresh and delicious greens year-round.

It is easy, low maintenance, and does not cost much to get started.

This article is inspired by the questions I was asked by a couple of friends who visited this past weekend.

They were curious about my seed-starting, but most of the visit was spent talking about my trays with microgreens.

They were literally blown away by the fact that I could grow all the fresh greens we need in winter at home. And Microgreens play a big part here.

So, let’s get into it and also check out the related articles about indoor gardening covering hydroponics.

1. Why are my microgreens not growing?

If you have problems growing microgreens, you are most likely making at least one of the following mistakes.

  1. Overwatering
  2. Underwatering
  3. Too cold or drafty

Let us look at watering first because it is key. You want the growing medium to be moist but never dry or wet.

If you are unsure about watering, use a spray bottle rather than a watering can. I use both, but a spray bottle will help prevent overwatering.

Using a spray bottle can help prevent overwatering your microgreens
Using a spray bottle can help prevent overwatering your microgreens

Overwatering causes seeds to sit wet and rot, while not watering enough causes seeds to dry out and die.

Tip: Cover the tray with plastic and ensure that there is always a hint of condensation on the inside of the plastic. If there is a lot of condensation, make a few holes in the plastic to promote airflow. No condensation at all? You are not watering enough.

Placing the trays with seeds on a warm surface will speed up germination. I place my seed trays on our heat pump, which emits some heat, much like a refrigerator.

A drafty window sill is another surefire way to hurt your microgreens. You do not need to obsess about the temperature; if you are comfortable, so are your microgreens.

2. Will microgreens grow back when they are cut?

Most microgreens will not grow back after harvest. 

The one exception is pea shoots, but even here, you will experience a diminished rate of return. The shoot will grow back but do not expect to harvest a full-sized shoot the second time around.

Pea shoots can regrow after harvest
Pea shoots can regrow after harvest

Harvest your pea shoot above the first pair of true leaves if you want the shoots to grow back.

Personally, I sometimes let pea shoots grow back, but most of the time, I harvest in full and start a fresh new batch.

3. Do I have to use soil for growing microgreens?

No, many alternative growing mediums exist, such as biodegradable mats, coconut coir, vermiculite, perlite, and even paper towels.

Still, potting soil mixes are easy to use and will yield great results. 

I prefer using my coconut coir and perlite mix (9/1) or commercial potting soil mixes.

4. Should seeds be weighted down?

I recommend weighing down larger seeds, like pea shoots and sunflower microgreen seeds. It helps the roots grow deep and get established.

My process is simple and no-nonsense. I place a tray with smaller seed microgreens, such as radish or broccoli, on top of the larger seeds.

Why is this important?

Larger seeds will “lift” if they are not weighted down. The downward pressure ensures that roots grow down into a healthy root system.

Pea shoot microgreens lifting when they geminate
Pea shoot microgreen seeds lifting when they geminate

Think of it this way: If you are standing on the floor, it is hard to press your feet down towards the floor. You can jump, but it is impossible to maintain constant pressure. 

Now, imagine you can reach the ceiling above you. Pressing your hands against the ceiling will create downward pressure. We are looking for this effect when we plant larger microgreen seeds. 

Weighing down the seeds helps the roots grow down without pushing the seed up.

5. Should I cover seeds with soil when they are planted?

It is not a must, but I do cover larger seeds like pea shoots as I feel it helps them create a stronger root system.

Covering seeds with soil
Covering seeds with soil

6. Do I have to soak seeds before planting?

No, but larger seeds will germinate faster when soaked for 6-12 hours before planting. 

Soaking sunflower seeds overnight
Soaking sunflower seeds overnight

I let my seeds soak overnight in a dark room.

7. Are there any reasons not to use soil mixes?

I use soil mixes, but there are a few drawbacks.

Handling soil mixes inside can get messy and can attract small flies. Soil mixes can also get expensive.

However, you do not need to buy specialty mixes for growing microgreens. The seeds contain all the energy needed for germination. The soil mix is there for structure, moisture retention, and aeration. 

8. Is it worth it?

Absolutely. I use 6-10 trays in rotation, and we have a steady supply of greens all winter long. 

Harvesting microgreens for a meal
Harvesting microgreens for a meal

Mix trays with slower-growing crops like pea shoots and sunflower seeds with faster-growing greens like radish and broccoli microgreens. 

9. We are a family of four; can I grow enough at home to make a difference?

Yes, but it takes some planning to ensure that you have enough but not too much to harvest at any given time. 

Trays with microgreens
Trays with microgreens

I rotate 6-10 trays and make it a habit to start a new tray when a tray is harvested. We never have to buy lettuce or salad greens in winter.

10. Can I reuse soil when growing microgreens?

Yes, I flip the growing bed of roots upside down, add a fresh sprinkling of growing medium, and then plant new seeds. 

When I have used both sides, I break down the soil and either mix it with fresh growing medium or add it to our compost. 

11. What happens if you let microgreens keep growing?

In theory, microgreens would grow into full-grown plants if left alone. 

In reality, your microgreens will wilt and die if not harvested when mature. 


Microgreen seeds are planter densely
Microgreen seeds are planter densely

Microgreens are planted too densely to grow into mature plants. There is simply not enough space or nutrition for healthy growth and root development. 

12. Can you grow microgreens on a window sill?

Yes, you can grow microgreens on a windowsill or kitchen countertop in a limited space.

Broccoli microgreens growing in out kitchen
Broccoli microgreens growing in out kitchen

13. Can you really make money selling microgreens?

I would have to say yes, judging by the prices they change at the grocery store.

But I have no first-hand experience as I grow to eat.

14. What do you do with microgreen roots after harvest?

Flip the grow bed and grow another batch of microgreens. 

Reuse soil after harvest
Reuse soil after harvest

When both sides have been used, place it in your compost or break it up and mix it with fresh growing medium to be used again. 

15. Are microgreens low maintenance to grow?

Yes, microgreens do not require a lot of care.

Microgreens rarely suffer from pests or diseases, and your main task will be maintaining a moist but not wet growing medium.

16. Are microgreens just immature plants?

Yes, microgreens are young, immature plants that you harvest at an early stage of development. 

Microgreens are typically harvested after developing 1-3 sets of true leaves.

Microgreens are smaller than baby greens and are usually harvested within 1-3 weeks after germination.

17. Do I have to use grow lights?

No, you can grow microgreens on a sunny window sill for some parts of the year.

But here in zone 7, I have to use grow lights for large parts of the year as there simply is not enough natural light.

Mattias Magnusson: Hello, I'm Mattias, a passionate and experienced gardening enthusiast. I am the creator of MattMagnusson.com, your guide to year-round herb and veggie growing. Let's simplify green living, no matter your space or location.