Growing Microgreens Outdoors


Growing Microgreens Outdoors

Growing microgreens outdoors at your backyard is very possible. But you have to do the right things. Growing microgreens otdoors is quite different from growing them indoors. To succeed in your plan to grow microgreens outdoors, you will have to understand these differences and how they affect the farming process.

For starters, here are the reasons why you could choose to grow microgreens outdoors:

  • You need much fewer outdoor equipment, just high-quality seeds.
  • Outdoor microgreens take a few days longer, indoor and outdoor radishes and broccoli are able to be picked for a 7-day cycle and outdoors. Which makes sure the outdoor microgreens are much larger than those grown indoors.

However, growing microgreens outdoors is a different ball game than growing them indoors. In this post, we will discuss the two options based on outdoor development. We will be looking at all you need to know about growing microgreens outdoors throughout this article.

Why Grow Microgreens Outdoors?

 Growing outdoor microgreens is an outstanding choice whether you plan to produce a lot or are operating a garden already.

Growing indoors can make a mess (even though there are a variety of ways to fix that) 

When you grow microgreens in your backyard, you need much fewer tools than indoors; what you really need are seeds of good quality.

You can grow microgreens directly in the field in your backyard, or in a tray, just as you would indoors. Growing directly on the land without all those facilities and costly nutrients implies a cheap and easy process. 

No changes need to be made to most of the soils.

How to Grow Microgreens in Your Backyard

You can always cultivate microgreens directly in the soil in your backyard in warmer months.

This is an inexpensive and easy way to produce a variety of microgreens in your key growing season.

The downside is that insects, squirrels, birds, and rodents, are among the intruders you may have to deal with.

Microgreens grown outside could also take some time because they are grown in less stable temperatures and degrees of exposure to sunlight.

However, the upside to this is that natural microgreens are typically far bigger and tougher, seeing as they had to compete with the elements.

Steps to Growing Microgreens in Your Backyard

Setting up the Soil

Start by dumping high-quality soil into your garden and spreading it evenly, if you don’t already have strong soil.

Spreading the Seeds

Afterwards, disperse the seeds on the soil surface. Use wooden boards to press them down carefully so that they make proper contact with the soil.

Watering Your Microgreens

Then, water the microgreens gently with a soft sprayer attachment on your garden hose.

Covering Your Microgreen Garden

Again, apply pressure on the wooden boards. You would want to place the boards on top of your seeds for a couple of days. This prevents excess light, allows them to germinate, and also defends against the larger pests.

It’s always a smart idea to pull dirt right beside the garden beds that are next to your boards. This helps prevent the drying of the microgreens afterwards.

It is okay to remove the wooden boards after a few days. Your microgreens should have started sprouting and developing roots by now. Clean them a little and uncover them.

Note

Let your microgreens grow as usual until they are ready. Water them softly overhead to help them stay moist. Drip irrigation does not go down well with most microgreens, so it should not be implemented in your garden.

Once your outdoor microgreens are ready to harvest, you should handle them the same way as you would indoors. Get a sharp pair of scissors or a knife for a chef and just cut between the soil and leaves around the stalks.

Unlike when you cultivate a microgreen in a greenhouse or indoors, to get the excess soil off outdoor microgreens, you have to spray them a little more.

Growing microgreens outside involves a different approach to growing them indoors. You grow the plants on the ground and have a completely different climate!

Yet, you can still obtain impressive results.

One of the key issues with growing microgreens indoors is mould growth, however, with a proper outdoor set-up, this is totally resolved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-woW6Sve2o

Tips to Growing Microgreens Outdoors

Here are a few ideas that could help your outdoor microgreens grow better:

Use Level Ground 

Ensure you plant on a nice level area. You want a loose, but nice and flat field. Tamp the surface with a flat wood piece or something convenient.

Place a Layer of Fine Soil Over Your Seeds

In contrast to when growing indoors, putting a thin layer of fine soil on top of microgreens planted outside is a smart idea. The hot sun can dry seeds and delay or stop germination and the extra soil keeps a bit more moisture in. There’s also extra air movement.

It’s a smart idea to wash microgreens harvested from outside.

Challenges You Would Encounter Planting Microgreens at Your Backyard

Fluctuations in Weather

One of the top-selling points for planting microgreens indoors is the high degree of control it gives you over your plants. Lighting and watering are all yours to control. 

However, the case is much different outdoors. One moment, it’s raining cats and dogs, the next, it’s freezing cold! This poses a major challenge to farmers. Especially those in regions that are cold most of the time. 

Microgreens are highly sensitive to the elements. If the weather is too humid, the risk of fungus develops. If too cold, your microgreens’ growth will be halted. 

Finding the balance outdoors is definitely a major challenge you’ll have to deal with if you are stupid about succession planting microgreens outdoors. 

Pests (and Pets too!) 

Interested in microgreens? A lot of animals are too. Once your beautiful microgreens start sprouting, they begin to attract a whole lot of attention. Goats, deer, mice and squirrels would do all it takes to lay their hooves and paws on your beloved microgreens. Even to the extent of scaling your fence!

But beyond the issue of the pests seeking to break into your garden, you must also beware of the frenemies within! Your cute little bunnies also have a thing for succulent greens. Another challenge for you to deal with. 

Solutions to the Challenges

Ways You Can Extend the Outdoors Growing Season

Planting indoors gives you more or less, ideal conditions, all through the year! But when planting outdoors, and in a location that gets really cold, you most likely will not be able to grow all year round.

It is quite difficult to produce completely exposed microgreens in colder climates where the temperature falls below freezing point at night-time (during spring and autumn). However, you will find ways to retain some heat overnight and they would then grow for a few additional weeks.

Poly caterpillar tunnels are an ideal way to get this done. These are available in various measurements, but, for microgreens, you should opt for those with low 2-3 foot tall half-circle “hoops” pressed into the ground at regular intervals.

Think of a tent pole bent over at either end with its two ends in the ground.  

The hemicylinder cover is then formed by a large transparent piece of plastic! This is the easiest and most efficient method of budgeting gardens.

Also, planting your microgreens too far from your prime growing season is a bad idea.

Dealing with Pest Problems    

Bunnies can be adorable, but for me, they’re a big challenge!

My backyard crawls with the cute little critters. And they like microgreens very much. Last year I was trying to cultivate arugula and a couple more outdoor greens, and the bunnies had a field day! They ate everything to the extent where I wasn’t sure whether I really did plant them or had only dreamt of doing that.

But that’s something you’ll want to take into account.

Of course, there’ll be insects when you have good soil, but they will not normally be a concern. Well-composted soil mixed in a garden bed would provide a decent fertilizing combination. In this way, the whole process doesn’t get too daunting (ideally). 

However, deer, mice, and squirrels tug up and munch on all of the microgreens as soon as they discover where they’ve been planted. You then have to craft out methods on how you can keep them off your greens.  

You’re probably okay if you have a good fence without any large cracks or holes. In my case, I cover my microgreens with a wire mesh that resembles chicken wire so that it keeps away the critters but yet allows water, light, and air to reach the plants.

Four-step Guide to Growing Microgreens

With sufficient moisture, microgreens are easily grown from seed in a good light. Typically they are sown in a soil medium or an appropriate alternative and harvested before reaching full size. Each seed requires ample space to be cultivated.

Once the first two “real” plant leaves come out of the cotyledon (the embryonic leaves inside a seed), you simply snip the microgreen off at the soil level. 

Materials You’ll Need 

  • Tray/container
  • Certified organic/fungicide free seeds
  • Spray bottle
  • Seaweed solution
  • Seed raising mix growing medium
  • Paper towel/chux cloth (to line the tray) 
  • Plant label and pen (to indicate the date and variety) 

Prepare Your Seeds 

To make your seeds germinate easily, you can pre-soak large seeds (for example, mung beans, wheat, potatoes, beetroot, and sunflowers) in warm water for a couple of hours or overnight. 

Drain and rinse large seeds after presoaking. You don’t have to worry about this move if you’re using tiny seeds though!

Prepare the seed growing mixture and container

Place any damp towel or cloth on the bottom if using a plate, to avoid the mixture from seeping through. Load your container 3/4 full of wet, damp growing medium (this should be 2-3 cm (1 in) deep). 

I make my own homemade mixtures because they contain essential ingredients that facilitate sprouting. The ingredients I use in my own seed growing blend provide additional nutrients and minerals to help raise healthy and nutritious microgreen leaves once the seed starts sprouting. This way, I know that I’m consuming quality food that’s as rich as possible. 

Tip: The seed raising mix in your tray should appear damp, not too dry or muddy.

A registered, organic seed raising mix (look for the right logo) can also be used.

Disseminate the seed-raising mix uniformly. To ensure a good, even surface, I use a paddle pop-stick or ruler to tamp the soil.

Plant Your Seeds

  • Sprinkle the seeds generously and evenly over the mixture and gently press in. 
    Optional: A thin layer of raising seed or sieved compost (about 0.5 cm or 1/5 in) can also be scattered uniformly over the surface for small seeds, thereby covering all the seeds.
  • Continue to cover the seeds by gently pressing down with additional seed raising mix. 
  • Water with a spray bottle. Make sure you are misting gently. You will, in so doing, avoid displacing the seeds.
  • Place on a drainage tray or saucer and in a heated spot, like your kitchen table.
  • Water periodically as required. Check with your finger for soil moisture first.
  • The seeds should not be allowed to dry out. But avoid overwatering as your seeds could drown!
  • Cover the seeds with the punnet lid to establish a wet, moist atmosphere for seeds to germinate. You could also place a transparent plastic bag on top of the tray with holes snipped at the top for ventilation. 

Once the seeds sprout, you can move them to a safe, sunny location like a window or greenhouse.

Harvest your Shoots

As they germinate, the seeds use up their internal food store to grow. I, therefore, use a seaweed solution at this stage to feed plants with trace elements. This enhances the flavour and boosts nutrients.

Here is a guide on how to formulate the best seaweed solution for your microgreens

When the seedlings are 2.5-10 cm tall – depending on the form you chose – your tasty microgreens are ready to be picked!

When I’m about to place it on the plate, I use scissors to cut stems just above the dirt.

For you frustrated hairdressers out there, harvesting microgreens gives you a wonderful chance to practice your snipping skills!

How to Grow Microgreens Indoors

This is the most popular method by a long shot, and so I won’t go too far into it here. Especially since it is covered in most online material.

When you just start growing microgreens at home, you can either get a small cheap growing light (a standard T8 fluorescent light), or you could prepare to grow your crop in a south-facing window if you use natural sunlight.

If you want to cultivate microgreens right on your kitchen counter you can install a light under your kitchen cabinets. 

Get a jar with drainage holes, or you could go all DIY and insert a series of holes in the bottom of a tray.

Disseminate the seeds uniformly on the ground. If it sounds like you’re using so many plants, don’t fret.

Of course, since the height of your microgreens will be 1 to 2 inches, they can be planted more closely together than if we were to grow our plants to full size.

You should soak the seeds overnight before planting them. It helps the seeds sprout more easily. On the flip side, however, this makes it almost impossible to scatter the seeds properly.

Advantages of Growing Microgreens Indoors

  • You can monitor almost everything 
  • Dampness is also going to be less of a concern. When it is, use a dehumidifier
  • Room temperatures stimulate accelerated growth.
  • You do not have to bother about insects and animals
  • You will enjoy observing your microgreens grow every day
  • You don’t have to brush the microgreens too much, as microgreens grown indoors are less likely to accumulate dirt and insects.

Growing Microgreens: Indoors vs Outdoors

Micro-greens can be cultivated both inside and outside, and they each have their own advantages. In either case, a portion of nutrient-dense food can be grown within a short time frame, and with very limited resources.  

Even without much land or room, they can be very lucrative to cultivate, and the learning curve is not as steep as you might expect! Also, under regulated conditions, you can grow all year round! You will be able to grow and enjoy an amazing harvest that has great quality.

Outdoor development is typically slower since conditions change even quicker than indoors. Hot days, gloomy days, cloudy days, temperature swings, etc.

Opting for a Greenhouse

Tens of thousands of dollars don’t have to be spent on a magnificent conservatory made of glass or aluminium. Some mini-greenhouses and tunnels go for less than 100 dollars and they offer a great many benefits.

Growing microgreen in a greenhouse is the deal, especially once outside become colder and moisture begins to rise. Microgreen plants grown in a greenhouse can be hard to maintain as you would have to keep them from moulding and getting damp when harvested.

You’ll want to plant a bit less densely. Think about using fans to distribute air around, or growing only microgreens that are less likely to mould, mainly those with larger stems: peas and sunflowers for instance.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can I regrow microgreens?

Actually, most microgreen forms are regenerating. Cutting the shoots down with scissors just above the ground and replenish. The bulk of varieties can be sliced several times.

Your greens tend to weaken progressively after a few harvests.

You should then dump the contents of the growing tray onto your compost pile.

What are the best microgreens to grow outdoors?

This depends. Many different factors such as nutritional quality, production, ease of cultivation are important to note.

I recommend starting with radishes, broccoli or sunflowers if you are new to growing microgreens.

Why do I need to grow and eat microgreens?

Here we go!

  • Microgreens are a perfect way to add fresh vegetables to your diet.
  • Even though thin, it still has great taste and freshness. Microgreen.
  • They are filled with antioxidants which deliver a wide variety of health benefits.
  • Microgreens are super nutritious. They contain 40 times more vitamins, minerals and other health-promoting properties per meal in comparison with their full-grown counterparts.
  • Just a little time and money is needed to grow microgreens. You can grow them easily and rapidly.
  • You may use it simply as a garnish or to complement a vast range of dishes including smoothies, burgers, soups, salads and drinks.
  • They incorporate bright colours to make food more enticing and also introduce a special taste to it. 

What are the health risks associated with eating microgreens?

Most people can eat microgreens easily without any risks. However, a few factors must be taken into consideration.

When microgreens are cultivated in very humid conditions, they can harbour E. coli and other bacteria. Therefore it is important to wash all microgreens thoroughly before they are eaten.

Microgreens can be grown from a wide variety of different herbs and vegetables. If you have a food intolerance to a particular plant, you might just be allergic as well to its microgreen variant. For instance, you may want to avoid soybean microgreens if you are allergic to soybeans.

However, certain plants that normally have gluten, namely alfalfa, wheatgrass, barley and buckwheat, are generally good to consume since they haven’t yet had a chance to start processing gluten in the form of microgreens.

However, if after a microgreen is consumed, you experience an allergic reaction, you should stop eating it at once, and talk to your doctor.

If you take blood-thinning drugs like Warfarin, you can interfere with your prescription by consuming large quantities of microgreens. This is because certain varieties of micrograms have high levels of vitamin K, a vitamin essential for the coagulation of the blood.

Final Thoughts

Planting microgreens outdoors can be a thrilling, educating, and fulfilling experience. Working your way around the challenges goes a long way to ensuring that your harvest is healthy and plentiful. Feel free to drop in your thoughts in the comments section below. They are much appreciated!

Happy growing!

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