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Hydrogen Peroxide in Microgreen Cultivation (Usage and Advantages)

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Microgreens are popular nowadays because of their flavor. Yet, it’s rich in vitamins and enzymes that some people consider a superfood. It’s easy to cultivate, and it requires a small space to grow. It also grows fast allowing you to harvest it in under a month. However, microgreens are prone to diseases. So, growers use hydrogen peroxide in microgreen cultivation. But why is hydrogen peroxide used in microgreen cultivation?

Microgreen growers use hydrogen peroxide because it’s a natural pesticide for plants. It fights diseases that attack the roots and pests that attack the foliage. It’s safer to use as a disinfectant for seeds than bleach. It also helps in boosting seed germination.

If you’re growing microgreens and you’re exploring different options to protect your plant, keep on reading this post. You’ll learn comprehensive information about hydrogen peroxide. In this article, you’ll also learn about the usage and advantages of the chemical. 

I’ll also reveal a simple formulation so you can mix your hydrogen peroxide solution. I’m even giving details on which kind of hydrogen peroxide you must buy in the market.

H2O2

Why is hydrogen peroxide used in microgreen cultivation?

Growers use hydrogen peroxide because it’s a cheaper option in reviving microgreens. It also helps them to manage the diseases that affect the growth of the plants. 

One of the common diseases of microgreens is mold. At a first glance, molds look like root hairs. But when you look closer, it’s like spider-web strands that come with a funky smell. It shows up on the microgreens due to poor air circulation and without proper drainage. 

Fungus on sprouts is a disease that can affect the growth of microgreens. Too high moisture and humidity cause the growth of the fungus. 

Hydrogen peroxide can fight various diseases in different ways. For mold problems, hydrogen peroxide helps reduce the seed’s mold spore count. As the seed grows, the mold spores are less likely to attach to the seed.

On the other hand, phytophthora is another disease affecting microgreens attacking the roots.

Phytophthora root rot happens when you overwater your microgreens. When you overwater the microgreens, it causes decay in the roots. In some cases, the disease can even sit for years in the soil. When soil gets soaked in water for a long period, the oxygenation level of the soil lowers. It leads to the interference of the roots’ aeration.

Growers use hydrogen peroxide to aerate the soil to treat and prevent root rot. The hydrogen peroxide helps in breaking down the oxygen. After it breaks down, the oxygen is released into the soil. The free oxygen released kills spores and organisms that infest the microgreens. If you don’t want your microgreens to get infected by the fungus, use the antiseptic.  

Plants need the energy to survive. They get the energy through the process of cellular respiration. This process requires oxygen so the glucose breaks down to release carbon dioxide, water, and ATP. The ATP serves as energy for the biological process in plants.

So, as a grower, you need to ensure that the microgreens have enough oxygen supply on the stem, leaves, and roots. Because the roots can’t acquire oxygen through photosynthesis, the roots need to get it from the soil. So, high aeration level in the soil is important so the roots can absorb the nutrients it needs. 

High aeration level aids the roots in absorbing the nutrients in the soil. It helps in keeping the microgreens’ roots strong and healthy. 

Sanitation is another reason why many growers use hydrogen peroxide. They use disinfectants to ensure that the trays are clean and sanitized. Because it’s not enough to wash your microgreen trays with soap and water. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties. So, it’s also perfect for disinfecting the trays.

One of the disinfectants growers use is hydrogen peroxide. It’s less harsh to the plants and it’s a safer alternative to bleaches. Hydrogen peroxide doesn’t leave toxic residue as it breaks down into oxygen and water.  

Clean trays are essential for reuse of the trays

How does hydrogen peroxide disinfect seeds?

Microgreen seeds vary in size — small and large seeds. Small seeds have a higher germination rate than large seeds. However, it contains less stored food, which makes them less strong to emerge from the soil. With less stored food, the small seeds may not be able to produce healthy seedlings.

When pathogens start to attack the seeds, infection and damage occur. If you’re growing microgreens with small seeds, the infection can be worse than the larger seeds. So, seed sanitation is important to ensure seed health at the early stage of growth.

Hydrogen peroxide is not only used to disinfect microgreen trays and soil. It’s also perfect for seed sanitation. A disinfected seed is safe from fungal infection and molds. Because hydrogen peroxide is less toxic than other disinfectants, it’s safe for the seeds.

When disinfecting seeds, there are several things that you need to remember. The first thing is to use a clean seed. So, you need to be careful about buying your seeds. The safest way is to buy tested seeds from a reliable supplier. Clean and tested seeds undergo quality control so they are safe to use. 

Then, use a hydrogen peroxide solution in sanitizing your seed. Pre-soaking is not necessary. But if you want to speed up the germination of the seeds, pre-soaking can help. Pre-soaking is best for large seeds or seeds with a hard shell.

Remember to always sanitize your containers and hands to avoid contamination. 

You can also sanitize your microgreen seeds

Advantages of using hydrogen peroxide in microgreen cultivation

You learned that hydrogen peroxide offers several benefits to plants. Yet, there are other advantages of using it on your microgreens. Here are some of the advantages and explanations of why it works.

Increase seed germination

Growers disinfect the seeds so the seed germination stage becomes successful. Seed germination is an important stage in growing microgreens. If this stage fails, you won’t be able to harvest your microgreens. 

Soaking the seeds to the hydrogen peroxide softens the seed coats. When it softens, the oxygen and water permeability of the seed increases. 

According to the recommendation of the University of California’s Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, you can treat the seed in a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide solution. 

Here’s what you need to do:

In a pan, warm the solution to 140 F. Use a candy thermometer to help you achieve and maintain the right temperature. In a metal strainer or a mesh bag, add the seeds then immerse them in the solution for five minutes. After soaking in the warm solution, rinse the seeds for one minute. Then, soak it with clean water. Ensure to remove any debris that comes from the seed.

Seeds need both oxygen and water for germination. The oxygen helps in aerobic respiration, which provides the embryo’s energy. The embryo requires energy so it can grow leaves and carry out cell division. On the other hand, seeds need water to soften their seed coat and to absorb nutrients coming from the soil.

However, some seeds are hard to germinate. To break its dormancy, growers use hydrogen peroxide solution. They use the solution to induce germination for a higher chance of sprouting on microgreens.

Although the University of California suggested soaking the seeds for a few minutes, some growers do it overnight. They fill a container with water and let the seed soak for six to eight hours. However, growers don’t recommend soaking the seeds longer than that. 

If you follow this method, ensure that you often check the water. You must check if something is growing in the water that may cause contamination. In case, you see debris or insects, remove it and rinse the seeds. 

After the eight-hour soaking, you use a strainer to remove excess water that the seed accumulates. Then, you rinse it. Once you’re done rinsing, spread the seed on the pre-soiled trays.

But how do you know when you need to soak the seeds?

If your seeds have a coating, you must soak them. The coatings can inhibit the germination process. Seeds with coatings include beets and peas. Some seeds have hulls such as chard and beets. These seeds have many seeds inside the hull. To germinate, they need to split. Soaking the seeds can help the splitting possible.

Large seeds are also hard to germinate. If you plan to plant large seeds, don’t forget to soak them.

Increased seed germination

Fertilizer booster for microgreens grown through hydroponics

If you’re trying to grow alfalfa, collard kale, and clover, it’s advisable to use the hydroponics method. But, due to the lack of nutrients from the water, you can add fertilizer. Adding hydrogen peroxide can improve the performance of the fertilizer. In effect, the seed’s germination increases.

However, it’s not right to think that the antiseptic is a fertilizer. In general, a good fertilizer has nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. These elements provide macronutrients to the plants. Unfortunately, hydrogen peroxide doesn’t have any of these elements.

Pest control

In 1977, the US Environmental Protection Agency registered hydrogen peroxide as a pesticide. It’s also EPA-approved. Yet, it’s regulated by the federal government, and it’s categorized as a hazardous material.

As pest control, it can kill adult bugs including its eggs and larvae. It’s also effective against the infestation of aphids and mites. When it’s mixed with water, it works as a good foliage pesticide spray because it prevents pest infestation. It’s also safe for the foliage because the weak solution doesn’t damage the leaves.

It’s not advisable to use chemical pesticides on microgreens. Because you’re eating the microgreens raw, using chemicals may leave residue on the leaves. The chemicals present in pesticides pose risks to the health of a person.

Eco-friendly compound

Hydrogen peroxide or H2O2 is an environment-friendly compound because it composes of hydrogen and oxygen. It has no other elements that pose risk in the environment. The chemical decomposes to water and oxygen, which means that it’s biodegradable. 

It’s more gentle to use than bleach even if it’s used in high-formulation. Yet, you need to observe proper handling for the food-grade and the high-concentrated chemical. Although you need to follow certain precautions, it remains that it’s safe for the environment.

Fertilizer booster via hydroponic

Good water source and water treatment

Rainwater is the best water source for microgreens. It’s because it doesn’t have many dissolved substances. It has no added substances such as chloramines and chlorine. Yet, it has low-level hydrogen peroxide. 

Most of the time, growers prefer using bottled water to water the microgreens. However, using a solution of tap water and hydrogen peroxide can is widely used as well. Hydrogen peroxide helps in removing the harmful chemicals present in tap water. Because of its strong oxidation property, it can get rid of chlorine. Although chlorine may not kill plants, excessive amounts can injure the roots. It can kill good microbes in the soil.

Biological Signaling

Biological signaling is one of the advancements in plant biology. It’s part of a biological process where signaling agents communicate with cells. The signaling agents stimulate the cells to behave in a certain way. Hydrogen peroxide is one of the widely-studied signaling agents providing positive effects on plants. 

According to a study conducted by Gansu Agricultural University, hydrogen peroxides are an effective signaling agent. It revealed that it plays a role in seed germination and root system development. It also helps in the defense mechanism of the plants.

Can you use regular hydrogen peroxide on microgreens?

Hydrogen peroxide has a wide range of strengths. It means that it has different dilutions depending on its usage. Regular hydrogen peroxide is available at the drugstores, which has a 3% concentration. Another type is the hair-bleaching hydrogen peroxide, which is a 6 to 10% solution. The food grade has a 35% concentration. The industrial type has a 90% concentration. 

Given the different grades of hydrogen peroxide, the safest is the food grade. Although some growers use regular hydrogen peroxide, I strongly suggest that you use the food grade.

Regular hydrogen peroxide is unstable and it has a stabilizing agent called acetanilide. It has toxic side effects, which can harm the plants. On the other hand, the food-grade type helps in curing different diseases. So, choosing between the regular and the food-grade, the latter is a better option.

When you use the 35%, always dilute it to 3% before you mix it with water. So, it’s safe to spray on the foliage. Using the food grade is also ideal if you have a large garden for your microgreens. If you’re confused about the computation, you can look for charts as your guide.

Best hydrogen peroxide for microgreens

As mentioned, food-grade hydrogen peroxide is the best for your microgreens. It has no additives and only contains 35% hydrogen peroxide and water. It’s safe for food production as well as for plant care. Maybe you can find it in some local grow shops. On Amazon only maximum of 12% concentation is approved. So here you have one food grade 12%, if you are from US. another option would be 3% concentration. If you are form UK, you can try this one 3% hydrogen peroxid an from US you can try this one 3%.

But another thing to remember when using hydrogen peroxide is its dilution formula. You can’t use pure hydrogen peroxide on the plants because it can destroy the tissues on your microgreens. So, a good formulation matters whether you’re using regular or food-grade hydrogen peroxide.

A good formulation does not burn the leaves of the microgreens. The acceptable formulation is a mixture of four teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide in one pint of water. You can also use the poor man’s solution where you add four teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide with four teaspoons vinegar and one quart of water.

Growing microgreens can be intimidating for new growers. But with the right tools and knowledge, you can grow it at your home. We have conducted really detailed online course where we also talk about hydrogene peroxid and a lot of other important things and factors. If you are interested, you can check it HERE. Just remember that they are delicate and you must take care of them by avoiding exposure to different diseases. Before you explore other chemicals available in the market today, try hydrogen peroxide because it’s guaranteed effective.

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