Burlap is an economical, environmentally friendly, and sustainable growing medium. It’s a woven fabric made from the skin of the jute plant, and an excellent option for growing microgreens hydroponically. However, how do you grow microgreens on burlap?
Growing microgreens on burlap is a slow and patient process compared to other growing mediums. You will need to make sure that molds are in check and that the burlap mat is wet enough but not too wet that it inhibits growth.
Are you finding the growing process for your microgreens on burlap quite a challenging task? We will help you make the process easier with the following steps.
- What Is Burlap?
- How Do You Grow Microgreens On Burlap?
- A Quick Rundown On Burlap: Reusability And Sanitation
- Can Growing Microgreens On Burlap Be Dangerous?
What Is Burlap?
Before heading to the step-by-step process, let us quickly sort out what it is and what type of burlap you should use. Yes, there is more than one type!
Burlap is a coarse canvas woven from jute, hemp or similar fiber. As it is eco-friendly and cheaper than many other growing mediums, it is popular for growing microgreens. Historically it has been used as a rough fabric for clothes and uniforms, but nowadays, we find this material used for bags, rugs, and other products such as growing medium.
The most traditional way of growing vegetables is using soil. If you are growing at home this can be a bit messy, then using a burlap mat is a cleaner option. You can use it as the sole growing medium or combine it with fertilizer. The burlap often comes in rolls, which you can cut as per the size of your tray.
The right type of burlap for microgreens
There are different types of burlap, used for various purposes, so make sure you get the right one for your microgreens.
Some of the more common ones are:
- The natural burlap with inconsistencies and seams works well as a growing medium.
- The laminated burlap, you need to avoid as the roots will not be able to push through the material.
- The printed burlap is used for decorative purposes, and the mat is often more refined.
For growing microgreens look out for a burlap that is more natural and less refined. You will find that the higher the weight on the burlap, the tighter the weave.
If you are struggling to find the right mat to use, to help you out, we have listed some great options that are fit for microgreens:
How Do You Grow Microgreens On Burlap?
As we have the material sorted out, let’s start growing! Growing microgreens on burlap are popular for startup microgreen growers. Burlap mats are not only cost-effective, but they also do not compromise on their quality and yield.
In a study conducted by the Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the University of Milano, burlap microgreen mats produce a lot of yields, especially with rocket microgreens (also known as Arugula microgreens). The study compares the yield amount of burlap microgreen mats to Vermiculite and Coconut fiber. (Bulgari, R.; Negri, M.; Santoro, P.; Ferrante, A., 2021).
Now that you know how outstanding growing microgreens on burlap can be despite the meager price, let us discuss the method to grow them!
Below is a list of steps to follow, along with in-depth explanations further ahead.
How To Grow Microgreens On Burlap
We will walk you through these 6 easy steps to turning your seeds into healthy microgreens using the burlap mat as your growing medium.
- Prepare the burlap and cut it into a desirable size
- Mist the burlap mat to prepare for microgreen seeds.
- Place the microgreen seeds of your choice on the burlap mat.
- Germination and the blackout process.
- Water the microgreens whenever the burlap mat gets dry.
Step One: Prepare The burlap
The burlap is often bought in a roll, and you cut the mat into a desirable size to fit your growing tray. Place the burlap mat in your tray or other container and ensure it lays flat. It will help your seeds to stay in place.
Step Two: Misting The Burlap Mat
Before you sprinkle the seeds across your burlap mat, we recommend you give it a good mist. The burlap map tends to dry out faster than other growing mediums, so stay on top of misting; before and during the germination period.
Misting the burlap mat will also help you get the seeds to stay in place.
Do not wet it but add just enough so that your microgreen seeds will stick to the burlap mat.
If the burlap mat dries out it may curl. If that happens the seeds can fall off and move to nearby low-lying areas, thus destroying the intended seed density. To avoid this, check your burlap mats and ensure they are flat, and continuously wet but not soaked.
Step Three: Seeding
Sprinkle your selected microgreen seeds across the burlap mat. Use the proper seed density to maintain a high degree of sanitation and maximize microgreen health and yield. Under the section Micogreens Types, you will find more information about how to grow, and seed density for the more popular microgreens.
Once your seeds are evenly spread across the mat, give them a good mist. You want to ensure that they have enough water to sustain themselves during this challenging process.
Step Four: Germination And The Blackout Process
So what is the blackout process, and what does it have to do with growing microgreen on burlap?
Once you have prepared the tray with the mat and the seeds, it should go into a blackout. The process tries to mimic the time frame wherein the seed is below the ground, and to support germination.
To initiate the blackout process, you will need to cover the seeds. You can cover with anything that cover the entirety of the microgreen tray. Make sure that light does not go through the microgreen trays during this process. The best choice is to use a microgreen tray of the same type used to grow the microgreens.
After a few days, the seeds will germinate (normally a couple of days after the blackout process). Make sure your microgreens have vertical space to grow upwards so it does not inhibit the growth.
Check For Molds
When the seed is not correctly germinating throughout the growing period, there may be instances where mold seeps into the colony. It can heavily impact yield or make your microgreen unsuitable for consumption when this happens. If you spot molds, you can apply hydrogen peroxide to the affected area as remediation.
When buying hydrogen peroxide, make sure the product is food-grade. It ensures you are using hydrogen peroxide that researchers have tested and have confirmed to be safe for use on or near food.
Read more about: Mold And How To Prevent It.
Steps Five: Water Properly
Once your seeds have germinated, it is time for them to see light. Remove the tray or other cover you have used during the blackout process and place the tray where it can get natural or artificial light. As a reference, your microgreens need around 12-15 hours of light.
Read our guide: When To Expose Microgreens To Light.
Throughout the growing process, make sure that you check the burlap if it is dry or not. Water once to twice a day using the bottom-up method. Bottom-up watering means watering your plants from underneath, giving water directly to the roots. When you water them from the bottom up, the roots get stronger because they are growing directly down toward the moisture.
Step Six: Harvest
It’s time for harvest! Most varieties will reach a mature height after about two weeks, but a few of them will take longer.
Here you can read more about the whole harvest process of your microgreens.
A Quick Rundown On Burlap: Reusability And Sanitation
As you now know how to use burlap growing mats, you may wonder if you can reuse them? They can be if you have enough determination, however considering that the burlap is economical and biodegradable, the amount of effort may not be enough to justify the action.
For example, you will need to sanitize the burlaps after every use to inhibit microorganism growth. Moreover, it is vital to clean every nook and cranny delicately to avoid the burlap from breaking apart.
Can Growing Microgreens On Burlap Be Dangerous?
It is not dangerous to grow microgreens on burlap as long as the mat you use is clean and does not hold any mold spores. If the mat has been reused, it must be sanitized, as molds can be apparent and cause health problems.
Growing microgreens in burlap is a great option, but not always the easiest to deal with. The growing medium is cheap, made out of natural jute fibers, and clean to work with.
If you are new to growing microgreens you may find it more challenging to use than other mediums. It dries out quickly and you need to stay on top of it, ensuring the mat is continuously moist. Water every day, once or twice. Continue watching your microgreens grow and enjoy the results!
We hope this guide has helped you make a decision if burlap is for you.