Microgreens Frequently Asked Questions
Q: I don’t see my question on this FAQ?
A: Please email us at [email protected] we will use questions to improve this FAQ.
Q: Are your Seeds Organic and why not?
A: Microgreens seeds tend to be very expensive compared to sprouting seeds. As such, we currently offer a limited line of organic seeds. We will be adding more organic seeds over time. Check each seed page, as we will offer that particular seed in organic and non-organic options. All of our seeds are NON-GMO, and untreated.
Q: What if I’m looking for a seed you don’t carry?
A: Please email us at [email protected] We’ll try our best to find it and add it to our product line.
Q: What are your favorite microgreens?
A: Our favorite by far is sunflower. We also like the basic and spicy mixes, dun pea and Kohlrabi. Micro basil is also amazing in Italian recipes.
Q: What if I’m just getting started? What do I need?
A: The best and easiest way to get started, is growing hydroponically using our hydroponic microgreens kit. From there you can expand to our soil based kit, then experiment with lots of other seeds.
Q: How do I track an order?
A: We generally ship via FedEx ground. Call us or email us, and we will send you the tracking info.
Q: Why is shipping so expensive?
A: Some of our products, especially the soil based kit are heavy. Shipping charges are FedEx ground rates, which are identical to UPS ground rates.
Q: What payment methods do you accept?
A: We accept Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Discover, PayPal, Google Checkout, Check or Money order.
Q: How do I order by check or money order?
A: Place an online order like normal. When you get to the payment screen, select "check" or "money order" and enter the check number. You can complete your order normally. In the checkout process, you will be given the details on how to make out the check and mail it to us. We hold all personal checks for 2 weeks before we ship.
Q: What are the easiest microgreens to grow?
A: Usually the brassica family is the among easiest. These include broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbages. The mustard family is also typically easy to grow. We find chia the absolute easiest to grow. Most of the seeds in the hydroponic microgreens kit (recommended for beginners) have the easier seeds. In soil-based crops, sunflower and buckwheat are very easy to grow.
Q: What are the hardest microgreens to grow?
A: Amaranth can be difficult as can beets. Arugula can sometimes be challenging. Some of he challenging Microgreens are really what makes growing microgreens a fun hobby. Experimenting with different growing techniques and variables can be very fulfilling.
Q: When do I use soil vs. hydroponics?
A: You can always grow any microgreens in soil. Some crops like sunflower, buckwheat, pea, cilantro and beet are very challenging to grow hydroponically, so we have created a soil based microgreens kit especially for these crops. They are among our very favorites. We prefer to grow hydroponically where possible because it easy, clean and every bit as effective as soil for most microgreen seeds. Our hydroponic kit is also very light and less expensive to ship.
Q: How important are growing lights?
A: They are not critical, but your crops will need to be exposed to light at the right time. Incandescent, fluorescent, and direct sunlight are all fine. We do use grow lights and prefer LED grow lights as they are light, consume vastly less electricity, produce very little heat, and only give plants the blue and red ends of the spectrum which is what plants absorb. We can’t get greener and more healthy plants even with direct sunlight.
Q: Why are LED Grow Lights the best choice for Microgreens?
A: LED growing lights are the best choice for not only microgreens, but any type of plant for several reasons: They emit no heat, and consume a much less electricity than traditional grow lights. Most grow lights like T-5 and fluorescent lights emit white light which is much less efficient for growing plants. Plants reflect light in the yellow and green part of the spectrum and want to absorb the red and blue ends of the spectrum. LED lights are tuned to emit exactly the portions of the light spectrum that plants want. Our LED lights are suitable for all stages of a plant's growth. We have never found any light source (even sunlight) which gets our micros healthier and greener than LEDs.
Q: I’m getting sections of rot in my crop?
A: This can be caused by several things. The most likely is watering with water that is too alkaline. See our pH balancing kit for help in adjusting your water to a desirable pH. Rot in a crop can also be caused by sowing seeds too thickly or over-watering.
Q: Which seeds to I pre-soak?
A: Sunflower, buckwheat, beet and pea all need to be pre-soaked in cold water. Each should be soaked for 6 to 8 hours, except for beet seeds which should only be pre-soaked for an hour or two.
Q: My crops are wilting, what am I doing wrong?
A: Wilt is caused by either under-watering or excessive heat.
Q: Can I harvest the same crop twice?
A: Second harvests are generally scraggly and weak, but it can be done, especially if growing in soil. Hydroponic crops that regrow will go for so long that the grow pad will begin to give off a musty odor. We recommend one harvest per crop and then disposing of the growing pad.
Q: How important is it to balance the pH of my water?
A: Very important. Most of our support inquiries are related to growers believing that the pH doesn’t really matter. It does.
Q: My crops are pale, what am I doing wrong?
A: They are probably not getting enough light. Try direct sunlight by a window or outdoors. Your crop may angle for light, so be sure to rotate periodically. LED grow lights are also a good solution.
Q: My crops are getting burned or dry sections on the leaves, what am I doing wrong?
A: They are probably getting too much light, or getting light too early.
Q: What do I do if I smell a musty odor?
A: This usually occurs after the grow pad has passed about 10 days. We rarely get an odor before 10 days. Since most crops are ideally harvested at 10 days, this should not be a problem.
Q: My crops are growing very slowly, what am I doing wrong?
A: They are probably too cold. Try putting them in a warmer place. If you have the trays on granite counter-tops, they may struggle. Try placing them on a towel to insulate from the cold of the counter top. You can also try placing them in a warmer location.
Q: Can I compost Sure-to-Grow pads?
A: Unfortunately, they are not. They are not made from natural fibers and so won’t compost. We recommend disposing of them directly. We have experimented with other hydroponic material but none performs anywhere near as well as the sure to grow pads. When growing in soil, the spent soil mat will be held together by the root structure of your crop, and can be composted.
Q: What is the difference between Microgreens, Sprouts & Baby Salad Greens?
A: They different stages of a plant's growth:
- Sprouts: Sprouts are the first stage of a seed’s development and are generally grown without a growing medium (soil), but are sprouted and rinsed in a sprouting tray, jar or bag. They are usually eaten soon after the seeds germinate and are delicious and crunchy.
- Micro Greens: Micro greens are typically grown is soil or other growing medium and are the second stage of a plant’s life, where roots establish themselves and the first leaves (called cotyledons) appear. Microgreens are harvested at this stage before the true leaves (adult stage leaves) emerge. Plants in the micro green stage are typically at their peak of flavor intensity and have had the opportunity to absorb trace elements and micro nutrients from the soil.
- Baby Salad Green: Baby greens are allowed to grow for a week or two beyond the micro green stage when the true leaves have emerged. Baby greens are harvested while they are still juvenile plants. The flavors are much closer to their full adult stage, and they have had ample opportunity to absorb more micro nutrients from the soil.
What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are tiny edible plants, usually vegetable garden plants, that are grown in quantity and harvested while they are still juvenile plants. They are grown in a medium like soil or a hydroponic grow pad and are usually grown and harvested at about 10 days, which is usually 7 or 8 days past the sprout stage.
They are grown in trays and can be grown right on your kitchen counter-top or outdoors on a porch or patio. They are used in salads, sandwiches, slaws, soups and garnishes.
We first noticed the new health trend when on a business trip to California several years ago, we saw microgreens salads on the menus of a few restaurants. We were pretty surprised to see such healthy live foods idea in a mainstream restaurant. What was more intriguing to us was that people were calling them “microgreens”.
You see, we had been growing Microgreens (without calling them that…) since 1991! Before we started selling wheatgrass growing kits, we ran a small greenhouse providing primarily wheatgrass and barley grass to local health food stores and juice bars in the Salt Lake City area. We also grew sunflower and buckwheat for use in salads, and they were pretty popular with some of our health food stores.
We never called them “microgreens” however. For us, they were always “sunflower greens” and “buckwheat greens”. So we are proud to have been so far ahead of the Microgreens curve, growing and enjoying these amazingly different salad greens for so many years. Early on, we created a greens growing kit, and have sold thousands of them, but these kits really only focused on the two greens we started with 20 years ago now; sunflower and buckwheat.
Since Microgreens have gone mainstream (and are still just now really catching on), we have been working hard in the past year or so to dramatically expand our Microgreens offering to include many different and exotic varieties of microgreens, including our old standbys; sunflower and buckwheat. The result is www.growingmicrogreens.com which now offers both soil-based and hydroponic growing kits, supplies and over 40 types of microgreens seeds, so you can grow delicious and healthy micro salad greens, and baby salad greens right on your kitchen counter.
We have grown literally hundreds of trays of microgreens to refine the process to help you grow healthy crops of these amazingly flavored salad treats. Sunflower microgreens still remain our all time favorite but you’ll be amazed at the flavors and colors of microgreens like sango radish, red amaranth, cilantro, dun pea, Russian kale, pak choi and countless others.
One thing we have discovered is that growing microgreens is much more than just a healthy dietary choice. It is an amazingly fun and fulfilling hobby, especially growing hydroponically, which is clean, fast and takes up amazingly little space as our friend Wade, the wheatgrass trucker has proven by growing sunflower microgreens in the cab of his truck on his cross-country hauls! Because microgreens grow so quickly you can enjoy almost instant gratification of gardening over and over, and it gives you the opportunity to experiment not only with growing techniques, but also different types of microgreens combinations in salads and food preparation generally.
We hope you will give this amazing new approach to live foods a try and share you experiences, growing tips and recipes with us. We will pass along the collective knowledge on the website and further updates in this newsletter.
All the best from the crew at True Leaf, LLC!