Updated: Dec 7, 2020
Learn the step-by-step process to grow nutrient-packed sprouts & microgreens at home year-round. This guest blog post has been written by Christelle and Cristina of Permacrafters. All photos have been provided by Permacrafters.
If you don’t have access to a garden or a balcony, there are still ways to grow your own fresh food indoors! Growing sprouts & microgreens is a perfect way to introduce highly nutritious food to your diet. These young plants require very little materials and experience to get started, and they can be grown practically anywhere, regardless of the season!
What is the Difference Between Sprouts & Microgreens?
Sprouts & microgreens are terms that are often used interchangeably, but they are actually quite different! Sprouts are germinated seeds that are 3-7 days old. They require only water to grow. They grow without soil and do not require sunlight. Microgreens, on the other hand, are older than sprouts. They are about 10-21 days old and require soil, water, and sunlight to grow. Both are packed with nutrients and enzymes that facilitate digestion. Sprouts are eaten whole, whereas microgreens are typically eaten without their roots. They both have incredibly diverse tastes depending not only on the variety you are growing, but the stage at which you are consuming them.
Growing Sprouts & Microgreens Indoors
The first step of growing sprouts or microgreens is the same: you soak the seeds overnight to snap them out of their dormancy. The only difference after that is that for sprouting, you rinse the seeds daily, whereas for microgreens, you transfer them to soil & a sunny spot, then water daily. Here are the materials and steps to follow to start growing sprouts and microgreens at home.
The Sprouting Process
A pint-size mason jar
A sprouting lid (or cheesecloth, although it’s not easily reusable)
Drying rack or bowl
Start time: Before bedtime (or first thing in the AM)
Step 1 – Measure out the seeds
Place 1.5 tbsp. of seeds in your jar and fasten the sprouting lid
Step 2 – Rinse the seeds
Rinse with cool filtered water
Step 3 – Soak the seeds overnight
Cover your seeds with at least 3x as much water in volume
Let them sit 8-12 hours out of direct sunlight
Step 4 – Rinse & Drain 2-3 times a day
In the morning, pour off the water (your houseplants will love it!)
Rinse your sprouts in filtered water at least morning and night for 2-7 days until they’re ready (2-3 days for beans; 5-7 days for leafy greens).
After each rinse, turn the jar upside down on drying rack or bowl to let the water drain. That’s it!
The Microgreens Process
Organic microgreen seeds (check out the 5 easiest to grow)
Jar sprouter or bowl
Containers (shallow + food grade, like take-out boxes or 10×20 trays)
Drip trays (only if your containers have holes, which isn’t required)
Organic potting soil or organic seed-starting mix (some bags are recyclable through Terracycle)
Soy-ink newspaper (find this secondhand & reuse it between growing cycles)
A windowsill that receives light most of the day (or grow lamps)
Step 1: Measure the seed quantity
If you’re using a 3”x 6” microgreens growing container, place 1 tbsp. of large seeds (i.e. sunflowers, peas) or 2 tsp. of small seeds (radishes, broccoli) in your jar sprouter (or bowl) and screw on the lid. (No need to be perfect; you’ll get a feel for this.)
Step 2: Rinse seeds
Pour cool filtered water through the sprouter lid (or in the bowl) onto your seeds. Rinse & drain
Step 3: Soak seeds overnight (optional but highly recommended)
Add more filtered water to your jar (or bowl), making sure there’s at least 2x as much water in volume
Let seeds soak at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, for 8-12 hours
Pour off water in the morning (after 8-12h) (Houseplants love this water.)
Step 4: Seed transfer
Rinse seeds with fresh water
Add 1.5-2 inches of soil to your containers, leaving at least ¼ inch of space at the top
Gently level out the soil with your fingers
Add seeds evenly in one layer on the soil: they should be touching but not overlapping (use a spoon to help spread small seeds)
Step 5: Add a protective cover
Fold soy-ink newspaper to fit the shape of your container
Let it soak in a bowl of cool water
Remove it, squeeze it so it isn’t dripping
Place it on top of your seeds, pressing down very gently
Leave the cover there for 3-4 days without watering. (It should stay moist! If not, soak again.) Place your drip trays under your containers at this point, if your containers have holes.
Step 6: Sunlight
After 3-4 days, the plants’ yellow cotyledons appear; they’re pushing the protective cover up
Take the cover off
Place the containers on your windowsill
Step 7: Watering
Water your plants 1-2 times a day (make sure soil is moist not wet)
Let your greens grow 1-2 more weeks
Harvesting and Eating Sprouts & Microgreens
After 3-7 days, your sprouts will be ready to be eaten! Consume them raw and whole in smoothies, salads, or wraps. (Mung beans can be consumed cooked if you prefer!) Check out our sprouted hummus and rejuvelac recipe.
As for microgreens, they can be harvested after 10-21 days. Cut them at the base of the stem and serve immediately as part of your meal. Ideally, you would harvest them as needed rather than preserving them in the fridge, so as to ensure you get the most nutrition from the freshly cut plants.
Have you ever tasted sprouts or microgreens? We hope you love the growing process. Let us know what delicious recipes you end up making!
Christelle & Cristina from Permacrafters
P.S. For more in-depth info, check out our online video course on Growing Sprouts & Microgreens.