Microgreens & Growing Media | Bootstrap Farmer

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  From our How to Grow Microgreens Series

Transcript below has been edited for clarity.

Nick & Nathan from On the Acre in Houston, TX discuss growing mediums used for growing microgreens and what to consider when choosing what will work in your operation.  For more advanced microgreens business training, visit our Urban Farm Academy Business of Microgreens course. 

 

 

When it comes to microgreen media I would suggest, if people have time and patience, to try a variety of things.  With the same species, get a starter seed, your peas or sunflowers whatever it is, get a few different types of media and trays and experiment with them to see how things grow where you are. {Depending on} what your capabilities are, they all require more or less {in terms of} either systems or involvement. Some systems are really simple to do, some are not. 

So some very commonly used microgreen media are soil, that's what we use here, rockwool & hemp pads. I've seen people using paper towels, felt rolls, wire screens so the sky is really the limit. That's because the seeds have everything they need to grow, they just need something to hold on to while they're growing.

Something that's highly dense and fibrous like a hemp pad would be very versatile for growing a variety of different microgreens. Hemp pads and rockwool might also give you less waste mess {than} when you use soil.  Obviously you're dealing with like dirt in your trays in your systems you have to throw out that dirt, same as a pad.

When you're thinking about disease, you just rip it {the pad} out, throw it in the trash or wherever they go, recycle. So it once again it's about you knowing the type of system that you want to build and what the space that you have to build it in can manage. On the other side of that same coin is possibly having to use nutrients when you're not using soil. So you may not be cleaning up dirt but you may be cleaning out your reservoir more often because of bacterial growth or something like that. Having to manage those additives and chemicals in a non soil medium would require more knowledge and more attention probably than just throwing something in soil and watching it grow.

So if you're a person who's very scientific and likes to get into that needy gritty then that's probably something you want to dive into. If you're just a novice and want to try something for the first time we used a bread pan, some soil and seeds. So talking about the metal screen I said, it essentially looked like a screen for a window. So it was a very fine mesh and it was about the size of a window and they distributed the seeds across it and it lowered down into water to keep them moist and then as they germinate they lift it up out of the water and the roots actually dangled down into the water.

It makes cutting them pretty easy because there's no, you know mess, similar to a hemp pad or a rockwool. This isn't tested. What is that metal made from, does it have aluminum in it? DOes it have lead? You know you have to worry about all of these contaminants getting into food that people are gonna be eating. So I would definitely raise a red flag about using any type of metal to grow on unless you know for sure that it's entirely safe to do so. 

Sure the difference between using just a normal plastic tray or gutter, something that isn't noted as food safe, is really important in our industry. I've also seen people growing seeds in seeds. Kind of like they do sprouts but now they're doing microgreens. So they're allowing the roots to create their own mat to hold them up. For our soil we use a pretty simple mixture of coconut coir and Pro mix MP. It's an organic soil that consists of perlite coconut coir and other inert soil like products. Whenever you're sourcing your material you have to consider the fact it's likely not going to be coming from your local area. It's gonna have to be shipped to somebody, whether that be you or your local hydroponic store or your local agriculture landscaping business you're gonna be paying an additional amount.

So if it's not being shipped to you you need to factor in the amount of gas that you're spending to get there to pick that soil up to really determine your costs in your margins whenever you're growing microgreens because every little bit makes {a difference}.

 



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