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Date: 15 February 2020. Microgreens Container Set-Up (part 2)

janice142
 


This became a multi-part series about growing microgreens aboard Seaweed. I have my own Victory Garden growing aboard Seaweed. Today I describe the how's and why's of my set-up, along with mistakes made along the way.
 

For those that prefer everything on one page, this is the link you want:
Microgreens Aboard Seaweed (series)



An overview/printable is located here: 
Microgreens Summary for Success (cheat sheet)

or, without photographs, here:

Microgreens Summary for Success (no pictures)
 

This is the second article in a multi-part series detailing the methods I utilize to grow microgreens on a small scale aboard Seaweed. Today I'll explain exactly how I set up my growing containers. It is easy to have success if you follow these few steps.
 


In
Microgreens Shopping List (part 1) these are the items I believe necessary to ensure success:
 

#1) 8 or so travel size soap dishes.
#2) Foam, such as the white stuff that is wrapped around online purchases.
#3) A few paper towels.
#4) Opaque plastic to cover the seeds.
#5) Seeds: broccoli, cabbage, kale and turnip.


You will also need a pair of scissors.
 




First I cut the foam to the proper size. Specifically that means that the foam fits inside of the soap dish so it can float up or down as I water/over-water the seeds.
 

 
Like this:
Not like this:
 


When I cut the foam on the right (see above) it was a bit too large. It fit snuggly into the soap dish. This tight fit will lead to crop failures. As I water the seeds, it is important that the foam float up. That way the seeds do not get over saturated.
 

If the seeds remain soggy they will mildew. Floating
on the foam will keep the seeds moist but not too wet.



Even when I add a bit too much water, the seeds will be damp but
 not underwater. The foam made a HUGE difference in my success ratio.

 


Sometimes when I am using scraps from the foam I have, a couple of pieces are not quite large enough. It is simple to use one proper size piece of foam and then stack the smaller ones atop it. When wrapped in a paper towel, this will work well.



The foam is re-used. I wash it after each crop is harvested. Because the foam is covered in a fresh paper towel and washed thoroughly, I am comfortable reusing it a few times. When the roots start to grow into the piece of foam, then the foam is discarded.


Side Note: Some types of virtually identical foam seem more likely to get roots imbedded into it. I am not sure why and cannot recognize any difference from other foams before use. This is one of those things that happens, so I check. For this reason I keep on hand extra pre-cut foam.
 

This photo shows the extremely LONG ROOTS that microgreens grow:


The roots are delicious too. I wanted a way to easily separate them from the paper/foam layer. My Great Idea was to put the seeds atop a layer of screen.



Everything works in Theory. I should have called my boat Theory.
The screen theory for plant growing had a multitude of problems.


The screen layer allowed the roots to grow through perfectly. Those same roots attached themselves to the paper towel, exactly like growing without the screen. I had hoped I could simply lift the screen and the roots would magically be free. No. That did not happen.
 

Instead I had roots thoroughly attached to both the paper towel and the screen itself. Clearing out the holes in the screen was a pain in my transom. Scrubbing screens is time consuming. It also used far more water than I wanted.



Paper towels are an important part of the microgreen growing process.
 

I buy the half-sized paper towels. Then I fold the sheet into thirds.

I cut at the RED ARROWS straight down to make three sheets of paper towel.



 

Cutting the paper towel precisely is not important. Good Enough is fine.
The foam floats. Water wicks up the paper towel to keep the seeds moist.

 

Each paper towel piece wraps around the foam. It overlaps a bit at the back.

 

Two things come up repeatedly with regards to successfully growing plants.

#1) The seeds start out as dry, so they must be rehydrated.
#2) In order for the seeds to grow best they should be started in the dark.
 


In order to keep the seeds in the dark without using dirt initially I opted for covering with a dampened paper towel. That did not work well.


The wet paper towel did keep the seeds moistened. That is initially important for sprouting the seeds. Unfortunately the roots were not clear what was top and what was bottom. They grew into both paper towels. This created yet another failure/mess.
 

I knew I needed to keep the seeds covered to retain moisture so the seeds would begin to grow. The problem was that roots could adhere to anything that was not smooth.


Dollar Tree placemats solved my dilemma.  The backs are shiny smooth PLASTIC.

I cut the plastic placemats into rectangles that fit inside the soap dishes I use to grow microgreens.


A while back I had purchased a couple of extra placemats when I bought the one used for the Diverting Portlight Drips (paper towel edition) project. One of those spares was utilized for the microgreens.
 

Then I read some more. Have I mentioned how glorious it is to have a tablet?!? It really has made a tremendous difference in being able to quickly research these Good Ideas of mine. Sometimes that is for naught, though it is always fun.
 

Experts said to keep weight on the microgreens as they grow so they will be strong and grow larger.

In order to add weight to my seedlings as they grew I cut up an old silicone pot holder.
 

When compared against other containers placed side by side, the ones with the heavier cover (the pink piece) did not grow any faster or stronger/bigger than normal. Additionally, the pink thing was one more thing to wash.


Saving water is critical when it is in limited supply.


I have made about every mistake possible in growing my microgreens. If I can succeed so too can you.


Now you know how and why I set up my soap dishes in the specific way I have found best to grow microgreens. I hope you have bought the soap dishes, acquired foam, and some plastic to cover your seeds. I do not recommend using fabric in lieu of paper towels as, again, it will require a lot of water to get out the microgreen plants.


Side Note regarding foam: I did attempt to use the small bubble wrap as a float for my seeds. That failed spectacularly. Ugh. It was a real mess. Even wrapped in paper towels (triple layer) the dang bubble wrap was a fiasco to use. Seeds fell off the sides. Do not use bubble wrap.


Shortly I'll post the next piece in the series, detailing how many seeds I use for each tray and showing you the stages of growth to expect.


Thank you for reading.
 

I'd love to hear if you're going to try microgreen growing.
And, have you grown food for yourself in the past?
 

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2020

Category: Galley,

Microgreens Shopping List (part 1) ~ Previous Post ...   
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