Microgreens are a great way to add variety and nutrition to your diet. They can be grown at home or purchased from a local farmer’s market.
One of the most important steps in growing microgreens is watering them correctly, which ensures they grow well and taste fresh.
There are several factors that affect how often you should water microgreens including the stage of growth, light exposure, and humidity levels. In this article, we will try to answer and guide you on how often to water microgreens.
How Often to Water Microgreens?
A simple rule of thumb is to water your microgreens every other day. You can of course switch to watering them daily when you feel the medium your microgreens are growing on is getting dry.
How often you need to water microgreens depends entirely on what stage of growth your microgreens are at. It also depends a lot on what method you are using to grow them.
How Often Do I Water Microgreens?
Microgreens can either be grown in a medium like garden soil or through hydroponic methods. Irrespective of the method you are using, knowing when to water, and how often to water is essential to raise healthy microgreens.
Let us look at the frequency of watering and the quantity required at each stage and method.
Watering Requirements for New Plantlings
Watering your microgreens should start even before you have planted them. If you are growing your microgreens on a medium, then you need to water the soil or the growing pads before the seeds are planted.
Water the soil or medium lightly until it is damp but don’t overwater it or it will turn soggy.
If you are growing your microgreens in soil, then use a shallow tray with drainage holes to drain excess water and keep the plants from being waterlogged. A standard 1020 tray is a good option for growing microgreens.
The type of medium used also dictates the amount of water required by your microgreens. Garden soil is heavy and can retain more water compared to other mediums like coco coir, coconut mats, or soilless mix which drain excess water easily.
You can use a spray bottle to spray the soil or growing pads and keep them wet when you have just planted the seeds. Make sure you don’t spray from a good distance or you displace the seeds or turn them.
If you are growing microgreens using the hydroponic method, then you need to ensure that the growing pad absorbs enough water to keep the germinated seeds or plants irrigated.
After you have planted the seeds, spray some more water and cover it with a lid. Seeds require a warm and moist environment to germinate. The key is to spray enough water so that the seeds can germinate in 2 to 3 days. Some seeds may take longer to spay more water if needed.
Watering Requirements During the Germination Stage
In the germination stage, it is important to keep the soil moist but not wet. The seeds will need water every day or two until they sprout. Once the seeds have germinated, you can remove the lid and keep them under direct or indirect sunlight, or if you are growing them indoors, under artificial grow lights.
Continue watering them every alternate day or every day if the soil or growing pads is getting dry.
Should You Bottom Water Microgreens?
Bottom watering refers to a technique of watering microgreens. Instead of watering your microgreens from the top using a can or a water spray, bottom watering allows the microgreens to soak up water from the bottom.
To use bottom watering, your microgreens tray should have drain holes in the bottom. Place your tray of microgreens in another tray without any drain holes, filled with half an inch of water. Leave it for about 8 to 10 minutes.
Water from the bottom tray passes to the top tray through the drain holes and is soaked up by the soil or growing pad and also the microgreen roots.
Even though you can water microgreens from the top, you should always water them from the bottom. This helps to avoid damping-off, a fungal disease that can kill young seedlings. It also prevents your plants from being watered too much or becoming waterlogged.
If you face issues of mold developing your microgreens using a top-down watering approach, you should consider trying the bottom water approach which can definitely stop the growth of molds.
How Much Water Does a Microgreen Bottom Watering Need?
Bottom watering requires that you keep your microgreens tray in another tray filled with water. Filling the bottom tray with about half an inch of water is enough to allow your microgreens to soak up water.
Always ensure that your bottom tray is not more in height compared to your microgreens tray and that your microgreens tray does not sink into the bottom tray.
How Do You Water Microgreen Trays?
You can water microgreen trays in two ways,
- A top-down watering approach is the traditional way of watering plants. Just water using a watering can or a spray bottle. Since microgreens are delicate and can be easily damaged, this approach is not advisable. Watering from the top can damage and break the delicate leaves and plants. They can also displace the plants.
- Bottom watering is a technique of watering microgreens tray from the bottom. This involves placing your tray of microgreens in another tray filled with water. Your microgreens are then able to soak up water from the bottom tray.
In the Top-down approach, your microgreens get wet and there is a chance of them developing molds and decaying. The bottom watering approach is a preferred way if your microgreens develop molds.
Can You Overwater Microgreens?
No, you should never overwater microgreens. If the soil or growing medium looks dry and dusty then it needs to be watered more often. You can check if your plants need water by touching the solid or the growing pads with your finger lightly. If they feel moist then your microgreens are ok else they should be watered.
Overwatering microgreens can lead to the development of molds and your microgreens may start to decay and die.
How Long Should Plants Bottom Water?
When bottom watering microgreens, place the microgreens tray with drainage holes in another tray or container filled with water for about half an inch. Leave the tray in there for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, the microgreens would have soaked up enough water.
It doesn’t matter if you removed your tray too soon, you can do it again. To know whether your plants soaked the water or not, feel the weight of the tray.
It is better to underwater than overwater as you won’t be able to reverse it and cause rot to the plants.
Generally, the larger your microgreen tray, the more time you need to leave it when bottom watering but a general wait time of 10 minutes is where you should start from.
What Is the Best Water for Microgreens?
Most microgreens thrive in a slightly acidic environment so water with an acidic pH of 5.5 to neutral 7 is good enough to water microgreens.
You can also use tap water to water microgreens but provided it is not mixed with chlorine which can affect the growth of your microgreens. If your tap water contains chlorine, you can simply leave it overnight for the chlorine to evaporate overnight and use it then.
If your tap water is hard, you can reduce the alkaline by adding a few drops of lime juice in it and watering your microgreens.
Rainwater or distilled water can also be used to water your microgreens.
What Temperature Do Microgreens Need to Grow?
Most microgreen seeds can germinate at about room temperature (around 20 to 22 degrees Celcius or 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit. Once germinated, the ideal temperature microgreens need to thrive ranges from 60 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees to 30 degrees Celcius).
Microgreens like dill, lettuce, onion, peas and most Brassicas actually flourish at 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Some microgreens that can grow to harvest length in one week in summer can take up to two weeks in winter.
Conclusion on How Often to Water Microgreens
It is important to water microgreens, but too much or too little will cause problems. How often to water microgreens all comes down to two things, the stage your microgreens are in and the method you are using to grow them.
Watering your microgreens every alternate day should be more than enough unless the soil or your growing pad is getting too dry. Bottom watering is a good way to water your microgreens. Just ensure that you do not overwater or underwater them and your microgreens will be just fine.