Instructions - Chia Growing Kit
Welcome to the world of growing your own chia microgreens. You can grow outdoors in warm seasons, or indoors all year long . . . even if you have limited space. It’s literally counter top gardening. Micro Chia Greens are inexpensive, fun to grow and nutritional. We hope you enjoy growing and eating these exciting living foods!
- 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 sprout- ing tray, jar, or bag. They are usually eaten soon after the seeds germinate and are delicious and crunchy.
- Microgreens – Micro greens are the second stage of a plant’s life, where roots establish themselves and the first leaves (called cotyledons) appear. Micro greens are harvested at this stage before the adult stage leaves emerge. Plants in the micro green stage are typically at their peak of flavor intensity.
- Baby Salad Greens – Baby salad greens of every variety are usually easier to grow in soil and are allowed to grow for a week or two beyond the micro green stage when the adult 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 minerals from the soil. Chia is not recommended at the baby salad stage.
- Mucilaginous Seeds – Some micro greens seeds (like chia and basil) are mucilaginous, meaning that once exposed to water they develop a jelly-like coating on the exterior of the seed. This is normal for these types of seeds, but they need to be kept damp until the seedling has had a chance to emerge and establish itself.
- Hydroponic Crops – Hydroponic growing is the cleanest and easiest way to grow microgreens. With only a few exceptions, most microgreens grow extremely well hydroponically.
- Dirt Crops – If growing to the baby salad stage you may find them easier to grow in soil. Some microgreens perform better in soil. These include peas, sun- flower, buckwheat, beets, cilantro, lentils, mung, adzuki and others.
Step by Step Instructions
- Step 0: Balance The pH Of Your Water – IMPORTANT! – Microgreens seeds are sensitive to the pH of water. Use the included pH test strips and instructions to adjust the pH of your water. Microgreens thrive at a pH of 6. A range of 5.5 to 6.5 is acceptable. Make sure to only water your crops with water you have balanced to an acceptable pH. Also helpful is to use filtered water to remove any chlorine from the water.
- Step 1: Prepare Your Trays – Pour 2 cups of pH balanced water into the bottom of your tray and tip to distribute water evenly in all channels. Lay one of the growing pads in the tray and swish the water around gently. Press gently on the growing pad to make sure that the underside of it is saturated. Turn the pad over so the saturated side is up. Gently swish the tray again to insure that the grow pad is thoroughly saturated. Finally, take the spray bottle and mist the top of the pad evenly with about 10 sprays, to make sure that there are no dry spots. Lay your tray flat in preparation for seeding.
- Step 2: Spread Your Seeds – Chia seeds are mucilaginous and should not presoaked, and should be spread dry directly onto the saturated grow pad. Sprinkle seeds evenly (side to side and end to end) over the saturated grow pad. Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons. You can experiment with up to 3 tablespoons for a denser crop.
- Step 3: Mist & Cover – Once you have a good distribution of seed on the saturated pad, use the spray mister to spray the seeds. Use about 15 to 20 sprays with the mister to make sure that every seed is nice and wet. Now take one of the other trays and use your spray mister to spray the inside of it 4 or 5 times with an even distribution of mist. Use that misted tray as a black-out and humidity dome on your recently seeded tray. Your newly sewn seeds need humidity and dark to thrive. Set your tray (being careful not to slosh it and disturb the dispersion of your seeds) in a place where it won’t get too hot, or too cold. 65 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit is ideal.
- Step 4: Mist Every 12 Hours – Uncover the seed tray every 12 hours or so and mist them again with your spray bottle. 10 or more evenly distributed sprays should do. Do not add additional water other than the misting. Re-cover your tray.
- Step 5: Uncover The Tray – Your crop should be ready to uncover after 4 or 5 days. You can judge this by watching for when the baby leaves (cotyledons) of your crop first emerge and then waiting one more day. It is important to keep your crop in the dark for the first 4 to 5 days to force your crop to grow in the struggle for light. This will help you grow a strong crop. Once you uncover the tray, make sure your crop gets plenty of light. We recommend LED grow lights. Direct sunlight, fluorescent, or incandescent lights are also good. If your crop angles for light, be sure to rotate the tray occasionally.
- Step 6: Check Daily – Your crop should have the right balance of water from now till harvest. Pull up a corner of the grow pad. It should be fairly damp. If necessary, replenish water to the bottom of the tray so that water comes up to half way up the channels. Be sure to water from the bottom once the greens are uncovered, and do not use the spray bottle anymore.
- Step 7: Time to Harvest – Chia microgreens are ideally ready to harvest in about 10 days, but can be harvested as early as 7 days. Most crops will not last pass 14 to 17 days before they must be harvested.
- Step 8: Harvest – Move your trays to a cool, shady place. If your greens are harvested when it is too hot, they will wilt very quickly after harvesting. If harvested when cool (late evening, early morning), they will tend to stay fresh and crisp.
- Step 9: Rinse & Dry – Use a colander to rinse your microgreens thoroughly under cold water. Dry the greens completely by spreading over a towel or paper towels and air dry. Speed drying by using a fan on a slow setting. Cut greens are best if served right after drying, but can be stored loosely in a bowl in the refrigerator for several days. Do not try to refrigerate greens that are not completely dry.
Troubleshooting & Tips
- Planting Too Thick – If you spread your seeds too thickly the micro greens will come in too dense and be susceptible to rot. If you feel like your greens in are coming in too thick, you can always thin out the crop by carefully plucking individual plants.
- Planting Too Thin – For micro greens this will make for a small, scraggly crop, but won’t cause any trouble.
- Over Watering – Microgreens will thrive if the roots get the right mix of water and oxygen. Over-watering causes the root to not get enough oxygen and makes the crop susceptible to root diseases, and can even result in the loss of a crop. Avoid any puddles that extend above the root line. Ideally water should lay in the channels of the bottom of the tray.
- Under Watering – Watch carefully for any signs of wilting. The grow pad should be kept fairly damp for the full growth cycle. There should be water in the channels below the pad, where the roots can reach the water.
- Re-cutting – Once harvested, many microgreens will not re-grow well. Dispose of the spent grow pads.
- Rot – If you notice sections of rot in your tray it can be a sign of over-watering, or sowing seeds too thickly. However, most of the time rot is an indication that your water is too alkaline (pH higher than 6.5). Make sure you pH balance your water or you will have weak crops. If you dea! You can easily segregate your seeds into different sections of the same tray. It is even okay to sow seeds with varying harvest times in the same tray.
- Temperature – Cold will slow down growth rates of your micro greens dramatically. A nice warm spot will speed things up.
- Generally Weak Crop – If you baby your crop too much, it can make the crop weak. Microgreens should struggle a bit to survive. If they are not kept in the dark long enough, the roots won’t establish themselves well, and will result in a weak looking tray. If you are having trouble with weak trays, you can add a little stress to strengthen your crop. Instead of uncovering your crop and exposing to light after 4 or 5 days, take the tray you are using as a dome and flip it. Spray the underside of the tray to moisten it, and lay it inside the growing tray so that the bottom of the tray rests on top of your seedlings. This will force your crop to establish a better root, and grow much stronger to lift the tray and reach for light. Leaving the tray on the crop in this manner from day 4 to day 6 can really strengthen a weak crop.
- Pale Crop – Consider using a stronger light source for your microgreens. We recommend a good LED grow light.
- Mucilaginous Seeds – Mucilaginous seeds should be sewn and cared for the same as any other seed. However, they may be more sensitive to drying out in the early stages of sprouting. Make sure they are misted and kept damp.
- Presoaking – Some seed types will do better if pre-soaked. Usually seeds that require a pre-soak do better planted in soil. Chia should not be pre-soaked.
- Burned Crops – If you notice overly dry spots or a crop that looks like it has burn patches in it, it is getting too much light. Some crops like arugula are more sensitive to light and can get burned. If you experience crops that look burned, make sure you increase the distance of your grow lights (or lower wattage). You can also decrease the amount of time your crop gets light.
- Odor – It is not uncommon for the grow pad to give off a mild odor. Usually this does not happen until the crop approaches about 10 days. This is one of the reasons we recommend harvesting at about 10 days, though a few days earlier or later is fine.
Uses / Recommendations
- Garnishes – Microgreens make excellent garnishes for just about any dish. Look for the more colorful varieties like kohlrabi, red cabbage, red amaranth, beet and red giant mustard to add a splash of color as garnish to soups, full sized salads, sandwiches, hors de oeuvres, and fruit plates.
- Sandwiches – Use microgreens generously in place of lettuce on sandwiches, especially tuna, egg salad, chicken salad, cucumber and more. They are a fantastic addition to vegetarian / pita sandwiches, and can even be used on hamburgers instead of lettuce.
- Salads – Microgreens can be used to add color and garnish full sized salads, but we recommend making straight microgreens salads. They make a great addition to tomato, cucumber and avocado salads. Our all time favorite microgreen is sunflower and we love to use it as a base for any all microgreen salad. There are an unlimited variety of com- binations you can experiment with to mix and match colors and varieties. To make a pure microgreen salad pile your microgreens high on the plate and garnish with wedges of tomato and avocado. We love microgreens straight without dressing, but try light dressings like lemon juice with seasoning salt, or balsamic vinegar and oil.