Microgreens mature on a 10-day cycle, so unlike an apple or a carrot, they’re quick to harvest. What microgreens growers run into is the fact that these little plants are delicate and high maintenance. They also can’t be stored for the next market, unlike those apples and carrots.
At McCardell Farms, we harvest the day of the farmer’s market or delivery, and we’ve never kept leftover harvested product to sell the next day or thereafter. So when a bag doesn’t sell at market, it’s time to find a place for them – a friend, my refrigerator, a neighbor, a donation location. I’ve heard of microgreens sellers, even here in San Luis Obispo County, who sell microgreens at market harvested by order. In other words, the 10″x20″ tray of microgreens growing in soil is displayed under a sneeze guard and customers request an amount that is cut for them right there. I’d like to ask that seller how she prevents the microgreens from overheating and dying at the market, since that’s a risk when you take them out of the greenhouse.
Day one of the microgreens’ lifecycle is soaking for the larger seeds like radish, pea and sunflower. Smaller seeds like arugula and our special microgreens mix get planted immediately without being soaked overnight in a large mason jar. Sowing seeds is one of the more time-consuming parts of growing microgreens, maybe second to harvesting.
Larger seeds, when they’re sown, get stacked under bricks. That’s a method I learned from a workshop and it has worked really well for me. Under weight, the greens work to grow and that makes them thick and strong. After 3 days they’re released and allowed to grow tall and green. It’s a beautiful process!
Every day they’re watered by hand. I haven’t set up an automatic mister because I want to monitor their growth and their overall status. So when it’s hot, I’ll go in the greenhouse twice to mist if necessary.
Every morning I open the door screen and make sure the fan system is set to go on. I check the greens and take a look at the weather for the day. Every evening, I close the door window screen and shut down the fan if necessary. This doesn’t take long, but it’s essential.
After 10 days, microgreens are ready to be harvested for the farmer’s market or pickup. Harvesting is a long process but it’s become more and more speedy with experience, like everything.
Because they’re on a 10-day cycle, I always have at least 2, sometimes 3, sets of trays in the greenhouse at different stages of maturity.
I’ve learned a number of shortcuts even in the 6 months I’ve been growing microgreens, so the system is getting easier and easier. My favorite part of growing microgreens? Sampling them to make sure they taste delicious!