Growing microgreens is easy. The hardest part of the whole process is deciding what is the best growing medium for microgreens. There are many different types of medium available and choosing the right type becomes difficult.
In this article, we will discuss the most common options for growing microgreens and also look at their pros and cons and we will also suggest our preferences.
What Is the Best Growing Medium for Microgreens?
The best medium for growing microgreens must be able to support the germination of seeds, provide adequate drainage, and be able to hold moisture.
The best growing medium for microgreens is Potting Mix followed by Coco Coir and Hemp mats which are all affordable options.
Burlap is the preferred medium of choice for growing higher yields of microgreens but they are only for advanced growers who have experience in using them. Controlling growth factors like temperature and humidity are important to achieve success with Burlap.
What Are the Different Growing Mediums Available for Growing Microgreens?
There are numerous mediums available for growing microgreens. Let us look at some of the mediums available for growing microgreens along with their pros and cons.
Coco coir is a popular medium for growing microgreens. It is made from the natural fibers of coconut.
It has excellent moisture-holding capabilities and is also lightweight. However, it dries out easily.
Coco coir provides excellent aeration and root propagation allowing plants to thrive naturally.
Advantages of Coconut Coir for Growing Microgreens
- Cheaper compared to the other mediums for growing microgreens.
- Biodegradable, can be turned into compost later.
- Excellent water retention capabilities.
- Has anti-fungal properties.
- Is a reusable medium for growing microgreens.
Disadvantages of Coconut Coir for Growing Microgreens
- Is suspected to molds if not chemically treated to remove pathogens.
- If you are using coco coir blocks, it can get messy just like soil.
Coconut Fiber Mats
Coconut fiber or coir fiber mats are made from the fibers grown on coconut. They are woven like carpets and are available in sheets that can be cut into desired sizes.
Coconut fiber mats are a great alternative to growing microgreens in Rockwool. They are a good medium because they have some nutrients, and also retain moisture well.
They are hassle-free when compared to coco coir but provide the same advantages but are a little expensive.
Advantages of Coconut Fiber Mats for Growing Microgreens
- Coco coir has excellent moisture holding capabilities. This makes it easy to manage humidity levels during different stages of plant growth.
- It is a reliable, high quality and lightweight medium for growing microgreens.
- It is reusable.
Disadvantages of Coconut Fiber Mats for Growing Microgreens
- Although organic, they do not have enough nutrients and need to be supplemented using a nutrient mix.
Hemp mats are made of all-natural hemp fiber. They are an ideal medium for growing microgreens. The loosely woven fibers allow roots to grow through easily and get hold. They also have excellent water retention capabilities.
Hemp mats are becoming more and more popular as a growing medium for microgreens and are a better alternative to coconut mats but are considerably expensive.
Advantages of Hemp Mats for Growing Microgreens
- Hemp mats have excellent water absorbing and retention proerties.
- They provides for excellent root growth and hold.
- Easily composted and are biodegradable.
Disadvantages of Hemp Mats for Growing Microgreens
- They are not reusable as they break down easily after being used once.
Hydroponic Growing Mats
Hydroponic growth mats are a newer type of growing medium for microgreens. They are made from natural fibers like coconut coir, hemp fiber or jute which is are environmental-friendly and sustainable materials. They can also be made from synthetic fiber.
Advantages of Hydroponic Growing Mats for Growing Microgreens
- They are sterile – this means that there are no potential pathogens or weed seeds that could harm your microgreens.
- They are made from materials that hold water well.
- They are lightweight and easy to work with, making them a good option for small-scale growers.
Disadvantages of Hydroponic Growing Mats for Growing Microgreens
- You need to use fertilizers as they have no nutrients and this can add to the overall cost of maintaining.
- They are not as readily available as some other growing mediums so you cannot always depend on them.
Burlap is a woven fabric made from jute fiber. It has excellent water retention qualities and may be used as a substrate for microgreens with no problem.
Burlap is similar to coconut mats or hemp mats in usability but is more expensive.
Advantages of Burlap for Growing Microgreens
- Recylable and biodegradable.
- Has good water retention capabilities and provides good aeration for healthy root growth.
Disadvantages of Burlap for Growing Microgreens
- Reclaimed burlaps is not ideal for growing microgreens as they can promote mold and fungus.
Garden soil is the most common medium used for growing microgreens. It is readily available and it is also cheap.
Garden soil is a good choice for microgreens because it has a good blend of nutrients that are essential for their growth. However, garden soil can be heavy and it can also be difficult to manage the moisture levels.
Advantages of Garden Soil for Growing Microgreens
- Garden soil is cheap and readily available in any plant store or market.
- Ready availability of nutrients in the soil.
- Consistent growth and yield of the microgreens.
Disadvantages of Garden Soil for Growing Microgreens
- Risk of mold growth.
- Can retain excess mositure which can lead to root rot.
- Can harbor pathogens and weed seeds.
Potting Soil or Soilless Mix
Potting soil is a growing medium that is specifically made for container plants. It is light and has good drainage and water retention properties, making it perfect for growing microgreens.
Potting soil is similar to garden soil with one major difference between the two, potting soils have better moisture retention capabilities. Potting soils are lighter than garden soils, but they are still heavy compared to other types of mediums available for growing microgreens.
Potting Mix or Soilless Mix is a special mix of organic materials consisting of peat moss or coco peat, composted barks, and perlite or vermiculite.
Potting soil does not always refer to Potting Mix. Potting Mix doesn’t contain any soil.
Advantages of Potting Soil or Soilless Mix for Growing Microgreens
- It contains a greater amount of water retention properties than garden soil.
- Best suited for beginners and advanced gardeners
Disadvantages of Potting Soil or Soilless Mix for Growing Microgreens
- One mix not suited for all varieties of microgreens.
Rockwool is a type of medium that normally consists of 95% mineral or rock material and 5% water absorbent gel.
It is light in weight, but it has good moisture retention capabilities. When in cube form, some water can be retained at the bottom which is adequate to irrigate microgreens making it an ideal medium to sustain plant growth.
The naturally high pH of Rockwool makes it unsuitable for certain types of microgreens.
Advantages of Rockwool for Growing Microgreens
- Fully resistant to rot, mildew, mold, and bacterial growth.
- Rockwool sheets are very durable and will not breakdown easily when moist.
Disadvantages of Rockwool for Growing Microgreens
- Due to its high pH, nutrient solutions must be added to maintain plant growth making it less cost effective.
Biostrate is a man-made felt-like medium made of biodegradable materials for growing microgreens. Grow-Tech is the manufacturer of the brand.
If you don’t want to use soil, it’s a great choice for microgreens. It retains moisture well when compared to other mediums available for growing microgreens, though, it may be a bit pricey.
Advantages of Biostrate for Growing Microgreens
- Good water retaining capability
- Provides a good surface for root stabilization
- pH balanced
- Can be composted, but only the 185gsm variety
- Ready to plant
- Easy to use
Disadvantages of Biostrate for Growing Microgreens
- May not be easily available everywhere.
- Expensive compared to other mediums for growing microgreens.
Vermiculite is a mineral made from laminated rocks, which expands when heated making it lightweight. Vermiculite can be used as a soil-less growing medium for microgreens.
Vermiculite contains traces minerals and has neutral pH. It can also hold water very well. Vermiculite along with Perlite is mixed with soil as it provides better aeration compared to only garden soil.
Vermiculite and perlite can be used as a growing medium on its own without the need to mix it with soil.
Advantages of Vermiculite for Growing Microgreens
- Vermiculite is sterile so no problem of mold growth.
- Provides excellent aeration and root propagation.
Disadvantages of Vermiculite for Growing Microgreens
- Can be messy to work with.
Who would have guessed that paper towels might be used to grow microgreens? Simply dampen some paper towels, sow the seeds, and let them germinate. However, just a single or two sheets may not be enough, you’ll need at least a quarter of an inch of paper towels to get any use out of it.
Advantages of Paper Towels for Growing Microgreens
- Microgreens tend to grow more quickly in paper towels, this could be because the moisture levels can be controlled.
- Are a cheaper medium to start with before moving to other expensive mediums.
- Pest free.
- Hassle free than using soil.
Disadvantages of Paper Towels for Growing Microgreens
- You need to maintain proper moisture level.
- Are fragile to work with and may damage your microgreens if not handled carefully.
- Can leave a foul smell if over-watered.
Is It Better to Grow Microgreens in Soil or Water?
Many people assume that growing microgreens in the soil is the best way to grow, while some people have the idea that growing vegetables in water is better.
The truth is both ways can work well depending on your preference and for what you plan to use them for.
Microgreens don’t need much space or potting material, so they can even be grown indoors using just a cup of water. However, not all plants will do well when grown hydroponically without supplemental nutrients because their roots are swimming around in the water.
Many growers prefer soil because it gives them more control over nutrient content and adds to aesthetics, but enough research has been done to prove that there are benefits to growing microgreens in water as well.
What Kind of Soil Should I Use for Microgreens?
When growing microgreens, the soil you choose is important. You’ll want to use soil that is light and fluffy, yet also rich in nutrients. A good option is a compost-based mix, which will provide your plants with all the nutrients they need to grow big and healthy.
If you’re not keen on making your own mix, there are plenty of pre-made soils available at garden stores. Just be sure to read the label to make sure it’s specifically designed for growing microgreens.
Some people also like to use potting soil or seed starting mix when growing microgreens. However, these soils can be heavier and more difficult to work with than compost-based mixes.
Can Soil Be Reused for Microgreens?
The short answer is yes, soil can be reused for microgreens. However, there are a few things to keep in mind when doing so.
First and foremost, it’s important to use a fresh soil mix each time you grow microgreens. This is because the soil will contain fertilizer from the previous crop, which could lead to over-fertilization and unhealthy plants.
It’s also important to sterilize the soil before using it again. This can be done by heating the soil in an oven at 200 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes.
Finally, make sure to test the pH of the soil before planting your microgreens. The ideal pH range for most microgreens is between 6 and 7.
Conclusion on What Is the Best Growing Medium for Microgreens?
We hope that this article has helped you to decide on what is the best growing medium for microgreens. Now, it’s time to get started with growing! If you are just starting, we recommend you start with a Potting Mix and then slowly move to other growth mediums.