How to get those Grasses, Greens and Micro-Greens Growing
Some of the crops we offer need to be planted on soil or another moisture retaining medium.
Though this page tells you how, we prefer that you look up the specific Growing Instructions for the seed or mix you are growing.
Pre-Sprout these seeds as their Detailed Instruction Pages say to.
Planting Medium: We grew Grasses & Greens - on soil - in Trays, for years. But, we now have multiple alternatives: Our all-time favorite - Coconut Coir isn't soil but it feels like the loveliest soil you've ever worked with. Coir holds moisture as well as anything anywhere ever and dispenses minerals and nutrients to your plants as they grow. Vermiculite is a mineral which also holds moisture supremely and dispenses added nutrients over time. It is coarse by comparison to other mediums, so it's best for bigger seeds like these. We also have thin pads which hold water well - Baby Blanket is made from wild grasses. Tencel STG Pads are made from wood fiber.
All of these work well with organic liquid Kelp Fertilizer. The only way to add nutrients to Baby Blanket or Tencel STG Pads is with Liquid Kelp. If you are using Coconut Coir, Vermiculite, or Soil - our favorite soil amendment is Earthworm Castings, which provide a lot of nitrogen - the ideal nutrient for green growth.
We think you should try all of the mediums if you can - there are differences and you may prefer one method over the other and the only way to know for sure is to try. Instructions are pretty much the same in all cases, but where there is a difference we include purple text like this.
Soil Note: If you grow on soil - virtually any soil will do for Grass! We used sterile bagged composted cow manure back in the day, but any sterile bagged soil will do and should be quite inexpensive at any garden center. You can use expensive soil if you prefer - it is your choice - always. We may even sell someday.
Remember to add 20-25% Earthworm Castings (especially if you're growing Sunflower Greens) for the best possible crop! You may mix in Vermiculite to add body to your soil too if you like. Read our Sunflower Greens growing instructions for more information.
Tray Note: Your Planting Tray (the one with the medium in it) MUST have drainage holes or slits. Growing without drainage makes it harder to get a good crop - especially if you are new to this. We do use the Drip Tray to hold some water at times in the growing process as you'll see below and on all relevant growing pages on our site - but that only works because the tray we're growing in has drainage holes.
You really MUST Pre-Sprout Grass and Greens before planting......
Our detailed growing pages for each seed/mix will have MUCH more thorough instructions, but here are the basics
Put seed into a bowl or your Sprouter.
Add 2-3 times as much cool (60-70 degree) water.
Mix seeds up to assure even water contact for all.
Allow seeds to Soak for 8-12 hours.
Empty the seeds into your sprouter if necessary.
Drain off the soak water.
Rinse thoroughly with cool (60-70°) water
and Drain thoroughly.
Set anywhere out of direct sunlight and at room temperature (70° is optimal) between Rinses.
Rinse and Drain again in 8-12 hours.
And, perhaps one more...
Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.
And, conceivably one more...
Rinse and Drain in 8-12 hours.
The goal is to have a small root before planting.
When most of the seeds have sprouted tiny (1/8-1/4 inch) roots it is time to plant.
This is typically after just 2-3 Rinse and Drain cycles.
Soil Note:The amount of soil you use is up to you. The reality is this: As your plants grow they need more and more water. They get their water from the soil. The more soil you use - the more water it can hold - which means you need to water less.
Thoroughly moisten the soil. Allow puddles to dry.
Sometimes you may need to use your fingers to make sure the soil is moist all the way down to the bot tom of the tray. Water, mix, water, mix, etc. Sometimes you don't have to do that.
Baby Blanket or Tencel:
Prepare the pad: Cut it to fit your Tray if necessary. Soak it in water or better yet, Kelp Fertilizer enriched water (You don't NEED fertilizer for grass, but we use it when we grow without soil.) until thoroughly saturated (fold it up and push it into the liquid - use a pot or something similar to hold it). Unfold it and re-fold differently or do whatever makes sense - the goal is to get the pad THOROUHGLY soaked. Spread the wet pad across the bottom of your Planting Tray. Proceed...
Coconut Coir and/or Vermiculite:
Coconut Coir and Vermiculite absorb liquid so readily and holds it so supremely that you need little of it. Make up the Coconut Coir according to the very simple instructions on the package. You may use as much as you like, but like I said - you don't need much. I like to fill the growing tray 3/4 full, but that's just me. You can go with as little as 1/3 full. The general rule is that the deeper the medium is - the more space your roots have to grow. We mix in 25% Earthworm Castings for the perfect medium. If you are growing with Vermiculite - use 3 Cups for a 10 x 10 inch tray and 6 Cups for a 10 x 20 inch tray. If you're using another tray, make it at least 1/2 inch deep. Spray water evenly across the surface then spread it out as evenly as you can. We like to use Kelp Fertilizer enriched water (You don't NEED fertilizer for Grass, but we use it when we grow without soil.) so we just pour it on until thoroughly saturated and then spread it out. The amount of liquid is this: a little more than one quart for an 10 x 20 inch tray. You don't want more than a little left in the Drip Tray. Pour off what water remains above the ridges of the Drip Tray. Proceed...
Spread seeds evenly on thoroughly moistened medium.
Rinse your seeds one last time and then sprinkle them across the planting medium. Spread them out as evenly as you can. We use a lot of seed, and though some literature will tell you that your seeds should not ever lay atop each other, we have found from years of experience and tens of thousands of Trays of Grass and Greens grown that; that is just plain bunk! You will learn for yourself that Grasses and Greens produce a plant that takes up less room than the seed did, and so to maximize your yield your seeds must lay atop each other to some degree. The thing to watch for is this: If you find fungal problems in your Grass/Greens then lessen the amount of seed you plant. The hotter/more humid your climate is the more of an issue the fungus is. If you do end up having fungus the solution is to plant less seed the next time you plant a crop. The fungus isn't even a danger - but it is gross. You can wash it off when you harvest - or cut around it. As always, you need to adapt to your own climate and seasonal conditions. And learn as you go - this is really easy and fun stuff to learn!
Cover the planted tray
with an inverted tray (the Cover Tray) - to keep light out and moisture in.
Note: Your covering tray should have holes or slits in it so that some air circulation exists. Without this very minimal air flow you might have fungal problems.This is NOT a hard and fast rule. There are times we use solid lids too - like with our Micro-Greens Kit
Place in a low-light, room temperature location.
70° is always optimal but Grasses and some Greens will grow very well in cooler temperatures also. All will LOVE 70°.
Water lightly once or twice a day.
The goal is to keep the sprouts moist until their roots bury themselves in the medium/medium - at which point your goal is to keep the medium moist. Spraying the sprouts is best - whether you use a garden hose sprayer, hand sprayer or faucet sprayer - just try to make sure that every sprout gets rinsed and quenched until they bury their roots. You may use Kelp Fertilizer if you like.
Water the medium.
Once the roots are buried all you need to do is keep the medium moist - the seeds and subsequent plants will get the moisture they need through their roots. Water from the side if possible, to prevent injuring the tender plants.
The Soilless alternative.
Baby Blanket and Tencel STG Pads will dry out more quickly than other mediums in most circumstances, so you should either water more often or experiment with our (only) somewhat risky trick - though this works well for all mediums, including soil Coconut Coir and Vermiculite as well:
Use the Drip Tray to hold some water. The roots will actually sit in this, so don't go crazy - too much can drown your plants and/or lead to mold or fungal problems. Just leave as much water as the plants can drink in a day and then add more the following day. The amount is dependant on the climate (humidity especially) you're growing in, and the size of the plants and roots, so you'll have to learn this for yourself. We suggest that you start with 1-2 cups in the Drip Tray. Lift the Planting Tray to see how much is left after 4, 8, 12, and 24 hours. If the Drip Tray is dry add more water - if there is still water 24 hours later then cut back the next time you add water. Pretty simple really, and not as risky as we make it sound - it is really a time saver and produces happy healthy Grass and Greens.
Once again, we do recommendKelp Fertilizer enriched water for soilless growers. Soil growers may use it too of course, but the soil does have some nutrients already, so it is not nearly as important for you - though it can't hurt.
Coconut Coir and Vermiculite hold water better than any other medium, but the same method works for it: Use the Drip Tray to hold some water. The roots will eventually grow into this, so don't go crazy - too much can drown your plants and/or lead to fungal or mold problems. Just leave as much water as the plants and Coconut Coir or Vermiculite can drink in a day and then add more the following day. The amount is dependant on the climate (humidity especially) you're growing in, so you'll have to learn this for yourself. We suggest that you start with 1-2 cups in the Drip Tray. Lift the Planting Tray to see how much is left after 4, 8, 12 ,, and 24 hours. If the Drip Tray is dry add more water - if there is still water 24 hours later then cut back the next time you add water. Pretty simple really, and not as risky as we make it sound - it is really a time saver and produces happier healthy plants. Use Kelp Fertilizer too. We probably give more water than is necessary, but we end up with great crops and when we grow Grass - it keeps growing after we cut it - even if we don't add water daily. Vermiculite and Coconut Coir are amazing growing mediums!
Uncover your Grass/Greens
Wait (3-4 or more days) until your crop is 1-2 inches tall or until it pushes the covering tray up (it really will do that - it is cool!).
Move to a well lit location to Green your Crop
If you use direct sunlight (a very good idea for Grass and Greens) - be prepared to do more watering. Keep it moist by watering the medium daily. Watch your crop grow. It takes about 10 days to get to....
By cutting just above the medium when your Grass is 6 or more inches tall (actually height is just a matter of yield - you can cut it any time you want to), or your Greens are 4 or more inches tall, but only their first set of leaves (Cotyledon) are unfurled and (hopefully) the hulls have fallen from them. If you wait until the 2nd set of leaves (True Leaves) form, you have waited too long - your plants may be bitter. In the case of Pea Shoots there are no Cotyledons or True Leaves - just a vine. Taste once every 12-24 hours after they reach 3-4 inches, to see when thay taste best and are most texturally pleasing to you.
Grass Note: We believe that you will get the best flavor and nutrition from freshly cut Grass. We cut JUST prior to juicing and we feel the difference! But, you are better off juicing week old Grass than no Grass at all, so do what you must! Drink More Juice!
If you are going to store your crop: During the final 8-12 hours minimize the surface moisture of your Grass or Greens - they will store best in your refrigerator if they are dry to the touch. So if you water try to keep the water off the plants - just water the medium.
Soak and Pre-Sprout
if the seed's Detailed Instruction Page says to. Note that not all seeds should be or need to be - so do read the Detailed Instructions (and be sure to read the Notes Tab on that page too) before you start.
Thoroughly moisten the medium upon which you are going to grow.
If you are using a Hemp Bag, a small bit of Baby Blanket, or Tencel STG Pads or a similar medium - lay it on a plate or in a pan or something so that you don't end up watering your counter. Likewise, if using a Tray, put it on a plate or in a solid (Drip Tray) to capture water runoff.
If you are using Coconut Coir and/or Vermiculite:
Coconut Coir and Vermiculite absorb liquid so readily and holds it so supremely that you need little of it. Make up the Coconut Coir according to the very simple instructions on the package. You may use as much as you like, but like I said - you don't need much. I like to fill the growing tray at least 3/4 full, but that's just me. You can go with as little as 1/3 full. The general rule is that the deeper the medium is - the more space your roots have to grow. If you are going for Micro-Greens with True Leaves you need a deep medium so fill your Tray higher if you're going that way. For the perfect medium - we start with Coconut Coir and mix in 25% Earthworm Castings. If you are growing with Vermiculite - use 1.5 cups for a 5x5 tray, 3 Cups for a 10 x 10 inch tray, or 6 Cups for a 10 x 20 inch tray. If you're using another tray, make it at least 1/2 inch deep. Spray water evenly across the surface then spread it out as evenly as you can. We like to use Kelp Fertilizer enriched water when we use Vermiculite - so we just pour it on until thoroughly saturated and then spread it out. The amount of liquid is this: a little more than one quart for an 10 x 20 inch tray. You don't want more than a little left in the Drip Tray. Pour off what water remains above the ridges of the Drip Tray.
Whatever you are planting upon - once it is thoroughly moist - Proceed...
Spread seeds sparsely on your thoroughly moistened medium/sprouter.
(there should be a bit of space around each seed but you are not expected to place them one at a time - just spread them out as much as you can and as evenly as you can*)
You may cover your container:
If planting on soil in a Tray use another tray - up side down.
If using a Compostable Tray you can snap the clear cover on for the first few days.
If using a Hemp Bag or similar medium - be creative.
It is not mandatory when growing Micro-Greens to cover them at all. Experiment for yourself and see what works best in your climate/location.
FYI - When we grow at home - we grow in 5x5 Trays which are set in a Drip Tray. We cover each 5x5 Tray with another (upside down) 5x5 Tray. We use Coconut Coir with 25% Earthworm Castings mixed in, and we fill the trays 3/4 (or more) full of this medium.
Place your Micro-Garden in a low-light, room temperature location (70° is optimal).
Keep the medium moist - but not soggy - by watering or misting every day or two.
We like to water this way: Use the Drip Tray to hold some water. Start with 1-2 cups. Pour the water into the Drip Tray. The goal is to leave as much water as the plants can drink in a day and then add more the following day. The amount is dependent on the climate (humidity especially) you're growing in, and the size of the plants and roots, so you'll have to learn the fine points of this for yourself. Lift the Planting Tray to see how much water is left after 4, 8, 12, and 24 hours. If the Drip Tray is dry add more water - if there is still water 24 hours later then cut back the next time you add water. Pretty simple really- and it is really a time saver and produces happy healthy Micro-Greens.
NOTE: When we grow at home using our medium of Coconut Coir with 25% Earthworm Castings mixed in we don't have to add any water for the first 5 days! That's how well our medium holds water.
We do recommend Kelp Fertilizer enriched water for soilless growers. Soil and Coconut Coir growers may use it too of course, but the it is not nearly as important for you - especially if you added 25% Earthworm Castings before you planted
When your plants grow up and begin to shed their hulls they are ready for light so
Move them to a well lit location to Green your Crop
If you go with direct sunlight (a good idea for Micro-Greens) be prepared to water more frequently. Room light will usually do quite nicely and will not dry out your plants and medium as quickly - but that's not hard to deal with so don't let it keep you out of the sun. Whichever way you go: Keep them moist by watering the /medium - using the Drip Tray technique or water from the side so as not to injure your tender plants. Watch 'em grow. It takes about 10-14 days to get to....
When your plants have open leaves which are green (or red - or purple in some cases), they are done.
You will find MUCH MORE DETAIL - and a serious variation on "done" on the Detailed Growing Instruction pages (in the Notes tab) we have for every seed/mix we offer.
Harvest by cutting just above the medium upon which they have grown.
During the final 8-12 hours minimize the surface moisture of your plants - they will store best in your refrigerator if they are dry to the touch. So if you water try to keep the water off the plants - just water the medium.Micro-Greens do not store well. Don't expect more than a few days out of them. Fresh is always best so do eat them when you cut them if at all possible. If you're not going to eat them all then just cut what you will use and keep the rest growing for tomorrow =:-)
* The first time you grow Micro-Greens you might consider giving quite a bit of space to each seed just to familiarize yourself with the plants' habit.
Always look to the information page for the seed/mix you are growing (aka Seed Detail Page) for complete details and variations.. Though we prefer if you learn to navigate our site - so you don't miss any of our awesome content - you can get to the Detailed Instruction Pages by clicking there.
The Basics of Sprouting:
- Seed Storage: Keeping your dormant seeds happy.
- Soaking: Turning a dormant seed into a nutritional powerhouse.
- Rinsing: Water is the key ingredient in sprouts. Use it liberally.
- Draining: It is essential that sprouts be drained thoroughly after rinsing. Sitting in a puddle is the most common cause of crop failure.
- Air Circulation: If your sprouts can’t breathe while growing - they can die. Don’t put them in a closed cabinet.
- Greening: Photosynthesis is cool, and so is Chlorophyll, but not all sprouts are into it, nor is it necessary. Sprouts of all colors are packed with flavor and nutrition!
- Cleanliness: Your seed should be clean and your sprouting device should be sterile. Wash your sprouter well between crops. Sterilize when necessary.
- Storage: Properly stored, fresh sprouts will keep for up to 6 weeks in your refrigerator but fresher is better. Never refrigerate wet sprouts.
- Eat More Sprouts! Grow More Often!