Growing microgreens at home are super easy, and in no time, you’ll have mini greens jampacked with nutrition! However, you may wonder if the seeds can transcend beyond sprouts and into full-grown plants? Let’s find out.
Microgreen seeds can grow to maturity (although the planting process is different from cultivating for microgreen purposes). Nevertheless, when planting the seeds with the purpose to grow microgreens, they will not grow into full-size plants.
To fully understand why the seeds planted for the primary goal of becoming microgreens won’t turn out to grow to their full size and why those plants cultivated with a different method will grow to maturity, let us examine the planting and growth process of microgreens.
How Are Microgreens Grown?
To grow microgreens successfully, you have to sow many seeds with high density, compared to single seeds planted with space apart for full-grown plants. Seeds aimed for microgreens are sprinkled on top of the growing medium and within a small space; typically a tray or other small container.
Once the seeds sprout and growth begins, the roots will branch out underneath the growing medium, and eventually, they will matte up together as they hit the bottom of the tray. It’s because they are left with no more room to grow. At this point, the sprouted seed will start to feed on all of the energy stored within the seed as it grows.
At the early stage of a plant’s life cycle, it gets its energy from inside the seed and not from the nutrients derived from the soil or other growing medium. As the plants grow, longer roots will branch out and begin to try to find nutrients from the soil to use as energy. Since the seeds are planted closely together and are competing for the little to zero nutrients available in the shallow soil, the microgreens won’t find enough energy to grow beyond this stage.
Once the growth process of the microgreen hits this stage, they are ready to be harvested and consumed. These tiny plants are exhausting their seed energy and, at the same time, competing with other plants for barely existent fuel. Not harvesting the microgreens at this point will not make them grow to maturity, but instead, leave them to bear more stress than they can withstand.
The Microgreens Growth System
Let us look at how microgreens are grown differently from full-grown vegetables. There are mainly two types of growth systems most suitable for growing microgreens. They are the Soil-Based System and The Hydroponic system.
This involves planting the seeds using soil, similar to what you typically use for vegetables and plants in a garden.
Using the soil method requires the seeds to be watered regularly but not too much. Some microgreens suitable for growing in soil are large seeds such as cilantro, buckwheat, and sunflower.
The Hydroponic System
Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without soil. When you plant microgreens using a hydroponic system, then water is the medium that supplies air, moisture, and nutrients to the roots. You can sprinkle the seeds on a net, use a grow mat or even cotton. These all provide the medium that the microgreen roots are supported in.
For the seeds to survive and grow, they require watering. Remember, that even if you grow them hydroponically, they can still be overwatered. Too much water can cause root rot, and the microgreens will not grow healthy.
Some microgreens suitable for growing hydroponically include lemon balm, oregano, and broccoli.
Do note. Several other microgreens can thrive when planted under any of the above conditions. They include Basil, Chia, and Radish, amongst others.
Check out our article about the best-growing medium.
What Changes When I Give The Microgreens More Soil and Nutrient?
Will supplying the microgreens with more soil and nutrients and improving growth conditions allow them to grow into full-sized vegetables? Most likely not. Why?
Despite the addition of more soil and nutrition, the microgreens have become too weak to grow at this point. Therefore, growing into complete plants regardless of the growth environment is impossible. However, if you plant the same seeds for the sole purpose of growing mature plants, they will grow into mature plants. It assumes that all conditions required for mature growth, such as nutrients, lots of soil, and space, are met from the first step.
Then, they will have the strength and energy required to surpass the microgreen stage and eventually grow into full-sized mature plants.
But since we are talking about seeds planted to grow microgreens, they won’t reach their mature sizes as plants.
Theoretically, the seeds should have the potential to grow into full-sized plants, but as you have raised them as microgreens, it will take that potential away from them.
Odd Ball Microgreens
These are certain microgreens that can (re)grow to become full-sized mature plants. One of such plants is the micro-onion. Onion roots mostly grow apart without any tangles. It means you can easily pick them apart if you decide to transfer your micro-onion to your plant garden. There is a chance that they will grow to become full-sized onions.
However, it is essential to note that this is also to some factors such as the region and weather, type of soil, and type of micro-onion initially planted.
Differences Between Microgreens Gardening and Mature Sized Vegetables Gardening
As earlier explained, microgreens are grown entirely different than traditional vegetables. Microgreens are much easier and faster to develop. They also require less stress and tending and pack more nutrients than their full-sized counterparts. You can categorize the differences in growing these two plants by observing three stages. (Source)
To grow microgreens, all you need is a tray with drainage holes filled with a growing medium. Some seeds require pre-soaking, and others do not. The seeds are sprinkled close together over the growing medium and then left in the dark for some days to imitate the growth process for seeds planted in soil. The lack of light causes the stems to stretch toward the light.
Some species of microgreens can germinate in just water alone without requiring any soil.
To grow their full-sized counterparts, you’d normally plant them in a garden with the right type of soil, nutrients, enough sunlight, and aeration.
Microgreens mainly attain their “mature stage” at 10 to 14 days old after germinating. However, the growth rate depends on the type of seed you purchase and the growth conditions they are exposed to during their germination. During the growth process, microgreens need watering one to two times a day.
Full-sized mature vegetables cannot attain maturity in such a short period and generally require more time and better-growing conditions.
As mentioned, microgreens are ready to be harvested after about two weeks. You cut them right above the soil line using a clean pair of scissors, shears, or a sharp knife. The stems and leaves are harvested for consumption, thereby discarding the roots.
There are differences in how to harvest microgreens versus the full-grown counterpart. One is that microgreens are harvested only one time and not left to regrow. Full-grown vegetables can be harvested regularly as the plant can reproduce more. If vegetables are not harvested when they have grown to full maturity, the plant will stop producing.
Another difference is that many mature vegetables are harvested with their roots. In some cases, consumed too.
Wrapping It Up
Growing microgreens is simple and easy. However, raising them to a full-sized mature stage requires different growth conditions. As microgreens, they are planted with the sole purpose to grow into tiny vegetables.
Deciding which vegetable you need is essential in determining how and when you should grow them. Above all, a constant requirement for growth regardless of the vegetable type is ample water and sunlight.