for small and big farms
Have you already start growing for yourself and your family, but now you have that idea in your mind, to put everything on a higher level and start growing for others also? To start with microgreen farm in your hometown. Then this blog is definitely for you, because here we are listing top 10 things what you need to start growing microgreens like a professional. Of course there are also other elements/tools/components, that can lift your business to the next level, but here we are talking about first 10 things, we think are the most important, when starting with this business.
All physical products need space and the same goes for growing microgreens. Since we are talking about how to become professional, you might consider having or renting some bigger place/room/basement/garage or some other empty space/house/warehouse you can find. I know that some people grow microgreens in a rented apartment. We highly recommend finding something near to your home because microgreens really need everyday care and sometimes you go twice or three times in a day there. That’s why it is really important that they are nearby. Space has to have a possibility for an air flow exchange otherwise you will need to invest in air devices or something similar. We will talk about this later on.
Our growing warehouse.
Racks are perfect for growing microgreens because they optimize your space. You can buy a classic rack which is meant for storage and modified for growing microgreens. They can be made from wood, iron or plastic pipes; it actually doesn’t matter as long as they are functional. If you are handy, you can build it yourself or you can buy it and then just put it together. The Dimensions we use are 180x120x60cm and have 4 shelves with 8-12 lights. Someting similar you can find on Amazon HERE. Our trays have dimensions 18x13cm. That means 24 trays on one shelf, 96 on the whole rack. One rack needs 0,7 m2. So you can calculate in advance, how much space will you need for your business. In an average room of 20 m2 you can easily install 4 racks and you will have a small farm already.
Our racks with lights.
3. TRAYS / CONTAINERS
With trays there are no right or wrong decisions, it is just a decision what kind of concept you would like to have. Most common in use are plastic trays because they are cheaper and if they are good quality they can be very durable and you can use them for a really long time. Nowadays some compostable trays are already present in the market. They are more expensive but really more environmentally friendly and this is really important for our next generations.
Since our vision is a greener future, we are developing our own biodegradable trays that won’t produce any mold. We estimate that they will be available in August/September this year. They will look the same as the ones that we are using now. You can add your email to our list to being first notified, when they will be released. At the end of the blog https://reactgreens.com/microgreens-and-impact-of-coronavirus-time/, you will find survey, and add your email there.
In America 1020 trays are really popular and it is easy to understand why. 1020 is quite a big tray for microgreens but they are perfect when you cut your microgreens and sell them in clamshells at local markets or in health stores (or somewhere else, like households). Watering them is also easy and fast.
But if you grow microgreens for chefs then we think growing microgreens in smaller trays is a much better way. With our method you can bring the chef one big tray with 8 different varieties on it, or just one. Depends on his/her decision. And when you grow in smaller trays, even if you don’t sell all at one, you still can sell it later on. And if you have any kind of growing problems, you don’t have to throw away one big tray, but perhaps just one small tray didn’t grow ok (mold or something) and you toss away just one small tray all the rest could easily be saved.
The trays shouldn’t be too deep. Between 3 – 5 cm is ideal otherwise you will have problems with harvesting them.
Our white small containers (trays) – size: 18 * 13 CM. In the picture still plastic,
but soon, biodegradable will replace them.
4. GROWING MEDIUM
The most common used growing medium is soil but in some cases there are more appropriately others mediums. More on different growing mediums you can read in our blog post here. Soil has natural ingredients which plants need to start their growth. From our experiences and tests, microgreens grown on soil or coco coir (*just for faster one) are bigger and stronger. And you don’t need to add any nutrients in there. It is also important what kind of soil you choose because in the end you deliver microgreens to restaurants and you really can’t afford some kind of bugs or some others living creachers in trays. We have tested others growing mediums like rockwool, coco mat, hemp mat and bamboo mat.
These alternatives are perfect for restaurants where they have restrictions that soil can’t be usds in the kitchen (HACCP). But have in mind, that when growing on mats varieties that require longer growth time, you need to add nutrients in the water, otherwise, they won’t grow. When you use soil you have to water them eventually every day in rockwool or other mats, you can water less frequently because they are like a sponge. But more in our blog post.
Different growing mediums (coco peat, coco mat, bamboo mat, soil, rockwool, hemp mat).
Seeds are a really important factor when growing microgreens. Usually we recommend when starting with a microgreen business, that you choose maybe 10 to 15 varieties who are easy to grow. Brassica family are basic seeds to grow, they are fast and good seed is not so hard to find. And then later on you add special varieties or the one that needs more patience and expertise. Sometimes it is a challenge to find a good and trustable supplier. Based on our experiences, it’s almost impossible to get all seeds at one supplier. By that we mean, to have a good price, good quality and fast shipment. All factors are important, but quality is most important. Sometimes they have one LOT that it’s just not good, and another time this particular variety could be fine. Put some attention on LOT numbers and ask for samples before you buy it in bulk quantities. The most important is that you find seeds with excellent germinations (over 95 percent ) even if they are a little bit more expensive. It will save you time, money and bad mood. More on seeds and seed supplier you can read here.
6. SPRAY BOTTLE
During the germination phase you need to mist very well sown seeds. We use a spray bottle with 5 liters capacity. It’s not too heavy and it’s very handy. Be sure that you choose that kind with adjustable end because you need fine tune for sensitive varieties and more powerful water stream for larger seeds. Find some similar on Amazon HERE.
Spray bottle that we use now, and it’s really good one.
If you will grow microgreens indoors all year around you will need artificial lights otherwise you will not have enough light to grow them. And you would like to grow microgreens, who grow tall and straight. Artificial light will do the work here. More on light you can read in our very in-depth blog post HERE.
Microgreens are living plants and they love fresh air and with good air you prevent conditions for mold. In the beginning we all start with small capacity and for this open windows and fans are just fine but later on when you have bigger business this isn’t enough anymore. Then you have to install a recuperator (industrial air flow device), with this you get 24/7 fresh air. And fresh air is a really important factor for quality and fresh microgreens. But sometimes outside is very high humidity and the recuperator sucks this air inside so you will also need a dehumidifier. *have in mind that those are conditions that we have here in Slovenia, probably in your country you will have different conditions, so you will need to adjust everything to your conditions. But we can help. Send us an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you have problems with high humidity then you need a dehumidifier. The optimal humidity is between 40% and 60% but in reality is much higher when you grow microgreens because of watering and moisturizing the seeds.
Dehumidifiers suck air from the space and take the water from air and return dry air back to the space. On the market there are quite a lot of different devices that you can choose. That’s why you have to be careful what kind of dehumidifier you choose. Always measure the space volume (m3) not just floor squares (m2). Dehumidifiers for a smaller capacity have a container inside for water which you have to empty by yourself. We use similar one, like this ONE on Amazon. More professionals have special pipes and you just install direct in outflow and water runs out automatically. Like bottom one.
9. OTHER SMALL ACCESSORIES
These accessories will help you speed up your growing or help you with the growing process.
3% HYDROGEN PEROXIDE – many microgreen growers do use this solution for spraying seeds, to prevent mold or to sanitize your trays. I would say that it can help, but sometimes it is really just unnecessary. In our operation in general we don’t use it on seeds. When we sow seeds, we immediately see if the seeds have good germination, otherwise we ask for replacement. To be on a safe side with the trays, you can use it.
We use a small scale (from 0.01g to 500g) for measuring small seeds, and a bigger one (from 0g to 5kg) for bigger seeds. And with this method, you will always have the same amount of seeds on the trays and you will know exactly how much seeds have been left (for your next orders) and you will save with seeds when premeasured.
Very handy tool. Once you measure how much you need for your tray, then you can speed up sowing with spoons. Just be sure, to make notes 🙂
HANDMADE TOOL (‘pusher’) for SOIL
This is something that you can make alone at your home, but it is really good to have it. You will be able to prepare the soil very evenly, so that you will easily sow your seeds without any holes in the soil, and collect more seeds in one place.
Home made tool for getting soil as evenly as possible.
10. PASSION AND SKILLS
Finally, all these listed things aren’t enough if you don’t have passion and skills to do it. Each entrepreneur knows that passion is the foundation for every business because when you hit obstacles (believe us, you will) on the way to success, passion gives you all the necessary power for breakthrough.
Be motivated and forward thinking. Start step by step and you will be on a good way to establish a successful business. If you need us on this journey, write us an email on email@example.com. We are here for you.
Be passionate with what you are doing.
Want to learn more?
If you have any questions about the information cited in this post or about microgreens in general, please leave a comment below or reach out to us via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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