Microgreens FAQ

Microgreens FAQ

Q: I don’t see my question on this FAQ?
A: Please email us at support@trueleafmarket.com we will use questions to improve this FAQ page.

Q:What are the differences between your hydroponic pads?
A:We have actually written an article about this on our blog page.

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 support@trueleafmarket.com. 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.

***Visit our full Soil Method and Hydroponic Method microgreens growing pages for specific steps.

Growing Questions and Troubleshooting:

Q: What are the easiest microgreens to grow?
A: Usually the brassica family is among the 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 the 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: My new batch of seeds aren't germinating like the last batch and its the same variety. Why?
A: Seeds are a product of nature and NOT mechanical. As a product of nature they are subject to variables, unpredictability, and surprises. Everything affects germination! Season, region, humidity, indoor and outdoor temperature, air circulation, medium, seeding rate, soak time, soil pH, Lot number. Much of microgreening is an artform requiring intuition, humility, trial and error Journaling will help make sense of microgreens to help track seeding dates, time, rates, grow mediums, habits, and results. Seeds all have their own personalities and enough journaling, experimenting, and trial and error will quickly reveal seeds unique quirks and personalities. Once you learn your seeds personality, give it what it needs not what you want to give it.

Q: Why am I 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.

Ordering Questions:

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.

What are Microgreens?

Simply put, microgreens are seeds grown like grass in trays on your countertop and harvested en masse at the seedling stage. These young plants are often pretty and contain a TON of flavor!

There is nothing biologically significant about “microgreens seeds”--they are just seeds grown using this particular method. Yes, there are seeds that are not considered “microgreens seeds”, but it is only due to that particular species’ plant structure being inedible, such as tomatoes. Of course, there are exceptions but they will be noted on the individual seed pages.

All kinds of seeds can be grown as microgreens. Of course, there are popular plant families widely grown as microgreens, such as brassicas (cabbage, mustard, broccoli), but there are a vast number of diverse plant families and species suitable for microgreening. These can include cantaloupe melon seeds, nasturtium flower seeds, Chinese mahogany tree seeds, and more.

Unlike sprouting, microgreening requires a growing medium. This can be soil, a hydroponic grow pad or even terra cotta! A growing medium allows the sprout roots to take hold of something to begin their plant structure development. Without the growing medium, the plant structure won’t be able to develop. Soil is the best medium for beginners, but using hydroponic mediums isn’t a complicated process and can be a great clean way of growing microgreens. Growing mediums are made from several types of fiber, such as jute, coco coir, bamboo, and wood. Each type of mat may be better suited than the other, depending on what type of seeds you plan to grow. The growing medium is placed in the tray just like soil and maintained as such--often, hydroponic mediums require more frequent watering depending on the temperature of your grow space.

Microgreen gardening timing varies according to the seed and the variety you may be growing. Generally, microgreen crops range from one week to a month from seed to harvest. Microgreen seeds are grown to the cotyledon stage or to the true leaf stage, rarely ever beyond that. Cotyledons are the first set of baby leaves, and true leaves are the second set of leaves, which will take on the shape that the full-grown plant will begin producing. Growing on microgreens past the true leaf stage is considered either an herb or a babygreen. Or your microgreens may develop a bitter flavor.

All the best from the crew at True Leaf, LLC!