If you want to venture into microgreens farming, you may wonder what type of soil you should use to grow your micro vegetables. Besides the type of soil, you will also need to take into consideration other soil parameters such as soil pH. Keep reading so that you can know more about the best soil types for growing microgreens.

The three types of soil are clay, sand, and silt . For optimum growth, microgreens need a sandy loam type of soil. You can create this type of soil by simply mixing these three main soil types. You can also amend your soil with compost to add more nutrients and make it more compact.

When preparing your soil for microgreen farming, you should ensure that it contains all the elements for optimal microgreen growth. First of all, the soil should contain healthy quantities of organic material. The organic material in the soil provides many essential nutrients that microgreens need to thrive.

Organic matter also helps in improving the soil texture to make it soft so that the roots can easily spread throughout the soil. The best way to add more organic material to your soil is by adding compost to it.

Soil vs. Hydroponics: What Method Grows the Best for Microgreens?

This question usually comes up a lot as more and more people are looking to know the best method they can use to grow the healthiest microgreens with the best nutrients and flavor. Soil contains clay, silt, and sand as well as organic matter. Potting soil, on the other hand contains a sufficient amount of green organic matter. Let’s analyze the difference between soil growing and hydroponic growing.

In soil growing, the vegetables are independent of each other. The only thing they share is the irrigation water. With this method, you can easily get rid of unhealthy plants without affecting the rest. When growing hydroponically, one plant can get sick in the roots and infect the rest. This is because they share water at all times.

Although it may seem like growing hydroponically may look a bit dangerous in terms of fungal contagions, keep in mind that vegetables grown this way develop very fast. This is mainly due to the high amounts of oxygen the plants receive. This is one of the advantages that growing microgreens hydroponically has over those grown in the soil.

As a result, growing microgreens hydroponically gives more yields as compared to soil growing. In terms of taste and flavor, microgreens that are produced in soil taste better than those grown in hydroponics. The high humidity in hydroponic doesn’t give the plants the necessary conditions to develop terpenes, which are responsible for flavor and taste. Terpenes are best formed in dry conditions. If you want to grow tastier microgreens, then you should grow them in in the soil.

How to Check Soil Moisture and PH

Checking soil moisture content and pH is essential if you want to produce the best microgreens. To grow the very best microgreens, you require soil with a pH between 6.0 to around 7.5. If the pH is above 7.5 which means that the soil is too alkaline, you will need to lower the pH to the ideal level. The best and the most natural way to lower the alkalinity of your soil is by adding compost. On the other hand, if the soil pH is below 6.0, you can lower the acidity by adding ash to it.

You can determine your soil pH by using a pH meter. To test your garden soil pH, you first need to take some samples from your garden or from your potting soil. You should put the samples in clean containers made of plastic. After that, take a small amount of your sample and add it to an equal amount of water. Only distilled water should be used.

Shake or stir the mixture and then let it settle for about five minutes. Once the mixture is still, turn on your pH meter and remove its cap so that its sensor will be completely exposed in the solution. Note down the reading on your pH meter.

When it comes to determining soil moisture, the best guide is how the soil feels. If the top 2 inches of the soil feels dry, then the soil has low moisture content hence water should be added. 

Another way of determining your soil moisture content is by inserting a wooden dowel into it. This method will help you determine the depth of your soil moisture. If your dowel comes out clean without any soil particles clinging to it, then the soil is dry. Wet soil will stick on the dowel.

Do Microgreens Need Fertilizers to Grow Well?

You may wonder whether your microgreens will need added nutrients to grow well. Every seed has nutrients stored in it to facilitate the growth process. Once the root is out of the seeds, all the stored nutrients would have been used up. The seedling will need to find extra nutrients to continue with the growth process.

Therefore, you need to add extra nutrients to your microgreens if you want to get great yields. As a farmer, you want to increase your yields while keeping your cost of production as low as possible. Buying commercial fertilizers would mean that you will incur some extra costs. You can avoid this by using compost manure. In fact, compost is suitable for microgreen growing as compared to artificial fertilizers.

Factors You Should Consider When Growing Microgreens with Soil

Success in microgreens production whether organic or not is greatly determined by proper planning. You will need to plan your vegetable garden and design it well. Planning your microgreen production involves determining what types of plants to grow and knowing which ones do well near each other. Here are some of the key factors that you will need to consider when you want to grow microgreens in the soil.

Site Selection

One of the best ways to ensure that your microgreens grow perfect is by selecting the best site for your plants. You can either choose to grow your microgreens outdoors or indoors.  If you want to grow your microgreens on a large scale, then outdoor planting would be the best option. However, if you just want to grow microgreens for your own consumption, then you can grow them indoors.

Method of Production

There are many ways of growing microgreens. However, the two most common methods of production are soil growing and hydroponic growing. The production method you choose will depend on whether you want to produce microgreens for commercial purposes or for subsistence use. Large scale microgreens production is best done using soil as the growth medium while small scale production is best with hydroponics.

Microgreens grown on soil are better in quality and taste. However, if you want your micro vegetables to grow very fast, then hydroponics is the best option. Should you choose to grow your greens indoors, you will need lights for microgreens since they will not be getting any sunlight at all.

Soil Type

Since you will be growing your microgreens in the soil, the type and quality of your soil are very important. The type of soil is determined by its physical composition. Soils are basically composed of sand, clay, silt and decomposed organic matter. For you to optimally produce microgreens, you need sandy-loam soil that is well-drained.

Although you can grow your microgreens on a wide range of soil types, most microgreens cannot do well in heavy clay soil types since they are not well adapted. Clay soil types tend to have poor drainage and aeration which negatively impacts on the root growth. The type and quality of your soil will be the foundation for your microgreens production.

Water

It is the life-blood of any agricultural production. Microgreens seeds require water in form of moisture to sprout and then grow into micro-vegetables. No microgreens can be grown successfully in dry conditions. You should ensure that you have access to abundant water supply. The microgreens need to have enough water supply to develop quality leaves.

Homemade Soil or Pre-packaged Soil at the Store?

When you want to venture into microgreens production, you can choose whether you want to make your own soil or buy some from the store. However, we would recommend that you make your own soil. It is very easy and also very cheap. Since microgreens should also be grown organically, homemade soil is the best option.

Homemade Potting Soil Recipe

One of the secrets to microgreens success is using the right potting soil. Let us show you how you can make your own potting soil for microgreens at home. Making your own potting soil is much cheaper than buying soil from the store, especially if you want to make your own soil to grow microgreens on a large scale. However, before you create your own mix, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

  • The lighter your potting mix is, the better it will be. Creating mixtures that are loose and porous not only make your container portable but also ensures that water, air, and fertilizer reach the roots of your plants more quickly.
  • Perfect potting mix contains peat moss, sand, compost, and vermiculite.
  • When creating your mix, you should start with the basic recipe. You can then add additives afterward such as lime to raise the PH of the soil in case it is acidic.

Basic Potting Mix Recipe

Here are the ingredients that you will need:

  • 1 bucket of peat moss.
  • Half a bucket of perlite.
  • Half a bucket of vermiculite.
  • Half a bucket of compost.
  • 2 cups of fine sand.
  • Half a cup of lime to neutralize the PH level of the soil.

Instructions

Add all the ingredients to a bucket and mix thoroughly. You can double or triple your recipe if you want more soil.

Which Microgreens should be Grown with Soil?

There are so many varieties of microgreens. These small green plants range from herbs to vegetables. Since they are different types, they also have different requirements. Some do well when grown hydroponically while others do well when grown in soil. If soil growing is your preferred growth media, you need to know which microgreens you can grow in soil and which ones you cant.

  • Amaranth: Although they can also be grown hydroponically, they perform better when grown in soil.
  • Barley: Growing them is easy since they don’t have a lot of requirements. They are also best grown in soil.
  • Broccoli: They grow very fast and as a result, they are commonly grown. They also grow best in the soil.
  • Brussel Sprouts: They also do well when grown in soil and in cool weather.
  • Buckwheat: Before you spread its seeds over the soil, you should presoak them so that they can germinate fast.
  • Chives: These popularly grown microgreens do well in the soil as compared to when they are grown hydroponically.
  • Coriander: They also perform better when grown in soil as compared to hydroponics.

Troubleshooting and Tips for Microgreens

As compared to several hydroponic plants, growing microgreens is relatively simple. However, this does not mean that you cannot run into some problems in your microgreens growing venture. Here are some of the problems you may encounter and how you can troubleshoot them.

1. Mold or Mildew

This is one of the biggest problems you may run into when growing your microgreens. It is usually caused by high temperature and high humidity. When molds attack your greens, they will grow like spider webs and will crawl across the surface of the soil and may even climb up the stem of the young plants.

The solution to molds attack is ensuring that you use clean trays or pots to grow your greens. You should also lower the humidity levels by increasing air circulation in case you are growing your micro vegetables indoors. Another way of dealing with molds is by using an organic solution such as grapefruit seed extract. The extract should be mixed with water.

2. Overwatering

Microgreens need to have enough water to thrive. Their roots also need the right amount of oxygen to develop well. However, if you over-water your microgreens, the roots will end up getting less oxygen.

The roots will be underdeveloped as a result and will even be susceptible to diseases. To avoid this, you should never have puddles that extend above your plants’ root line.

3. Underwatering

When your greens are under-watered, it means that they are not getting enough water. Under-watered microgreens will wilt. To avoid this, always keep your grow pad fairly soggy throughout the growth cycle of your greens.

Conclusion

We welcome you to the world of producing your own microgreens. You can either choose to grow your greens outdoors during the warm seasons or grow them indoors throughout the year. Growing your microgreens is cheaper as compared to buying them. You will also have a lot of fun producing your own delicious greens. However, keep in mind that the quality of your microgreens will greatly depend on the quality and type of soil you are using to grow them.

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