1) get your ground
If you're really on a tight budget, you can just go outside in your garden and dig up some soil to take it in and grow your microgreens in it.
But if you plan on growing your microgreens indoors, I would advise against it.
The soil in your garden is teeming with organic life. If you bring it indoors you may bring fruit fly eggs, mosquitoes, ants and other creepy crawlies that will be difficult to get rid of once they have established a colony in your house!
In addition to the bugs you can see, you also bring in fungal spores, bacteria, mold and microbes.
These all have a place in the natural outdoor ecosystem. But if you're growing microgreens indoors, all those extras could kill your plants before they really get a chance to grow.
Instead, spend a few dollars to buy a bag of organic potting soil or seedling mix from the store. You will not regret it!
If you absolutely must use your own soil, you can sterilize it by placing it in your oven at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.
Also check out our guide to different onesMicrogreens growth mediayou could use, including other options like hydroponics and coco mats.
2) Soaking your seeds
Some microgreens do not require soaking the seeds. But sunflower seeds have a particularly hard shell, and they really benefit from soaking them before attempting to grow them.
This softens the shell of the sunflower seeds and makes it easier for them to germinate.
For best results, soak your sunflower seeds in cold water overnight or for about 12 hours.
Then drain your seeds, rinse them and let them soak for another 8 to 12 hours. After about 24 hours of soaking, you should see your seeds start to sprout.
How to grow sunflower microgreens
If you're using a regular 10" x 20" planter, you should soak about two cups of seeds to get the right seed density for growing.
Here are some general proportions of how many sunflower seeds you need for different sized containers:
- Use 1/4 cup of seeds to cover 25 square inches.
- Use between 1 and 1 1/2 cups to cover 100 square inches
- Use between 2 and 3 cups to cover 200 square inches.
Not sure how many square inches your grow container is? If it's a square or rectangular shape, multiply its length and width together to find out. If you are using a round container, multiply the radius squared (1/2 the diameter) of your container by 3.14.
1) Sow your seeds
After your seeds have been soaked, it's time to sow them.
Fill a planting tray with about an inch of your potting soil. You don't need too much soil as your seeds will only grow for less than a week.
They will not develop long root systems or grow large enough to extract large amounts of nutrients from the soil.
If you don't have a planter, you can use a disposable aluminum foil baking sheet or another similarly shaped and sized container.
Sow your seeds evenly over the whole tray. Then use a clean spray bottle to get the seeds and soil nice and moist. You don't have to cover your seeds with soil. Just make sure they are pressed down slightly so they have good contact with the dirt.
Place another tray, towel, or any other object or material over your seeds to block out any light.
Your microgreens don't need sunlight while they germinate and sprout.
In fact, they do better in the dark, since at that point they would normally be buried in the ground.
Each day you should raise your cover a few times to mist your seeds and soil to keep them moist. Your seeds should be moist but not soaking wet or they could rot.
After 4 or 5 days you can remove the cover from your sunflower microgreens and expose them to the light.
They are pale yellow in color at this stage, but they will quickly turn a deep green color now that they can photosynthesize sunlight and convert it to chlorophyll in their developing leaves and stems.
Make sure your sunflower microgreens are near a bright window where they get 8 or more hours of direct sunlight per day, or use a grow light if you have one.
From this point forward you can gently water the soil directly instead of spraying your plants if you wish. Keep watering them regularly, 1 or 2 times a day as needed.
As your sunflower microgreens begin to grow, some of the seed coats may get stuck to the growing leaves. You can gently clip these off.
Your sunflower microgreens will be fully grown and ready to harvest in around 10 to 14 days.
2) Harvest your sunflower microgreens
When your sunflower microgreens are ready to harvest, their pods should begin to fall from their leaves and they should be about 4 inches tall.
The easiest way to harvest them is to take a pair of sharp scissors or kitchen knife and cut off their stems just above ground level.
A sharp blade is key here as it will cut cleanly through the stalks of your microgreens without damaging them.
It's best not to just pull out microgreens with your hands, as doing so can damage them and they're also a lot messier.
Your microgreens may be in different stages of development. Some may have real leaves while others are still in the growing process.
You can let the immature microgreens grow a few days longer and only harvest the large ones that are ready.
If you're lucky, you might even be able to harvest a second round of microgreens from the early stems you cut off.
3) Storage of your sunflower microgreens
After you have harvested your microgreens, you should wash them carefully and gently. Then place them between two dampened paper towels and seal them in a plastic bag. They will keep in your fridge this way for up to five days.
Of course, for optimal freshness, it's even better to eat your microgreens right after harvest!
What to do with the floor
After harvesting your microgreens, you can reuse the leftover soil about 3 times before you need to compost the soil or add extra nutrients to it.
You don't even have to remove the old stems and roots from the previous batch.
Just follow the instructions above and what's left of your previous batch will die back, adding extra nutrients to the soil for your new sprouts!
Can you grow sunflower microgreens without soil?
Yes, that is possibleGrowing microgreens at home without soilUse the magic of hydroponics!
You can create a wick hydroponic system that eliminates debris and is self-watering.
You can do this by cutting open an empty milk carton with scissorsshown here.
The piece of cardboard you cut out goes inside the empty cardboard box and acts as a shelf for your microgreens to grow on. You will later fill the bottom of the box with water.
Next you want to make a wick out of one piecepaper towelby folding it until it's a strip about 1 inch wide.
Lay your paper towel over the top of the shelf you just created and curl the edges down so they reach into the water you will eventually add.
Now place a full sheet of kitchen paper on your little shelf and the wick.
This is where your seeds sit. Place your seeds on the paper towel and you're ready to add water.
Add water to the bottom of the container, about half an inch or so. It should quickly begin to soak into the paper towel and soak your seeds.
Just let your seeds grow for a week or two and you have sunflower microgreens!
You can add some hydroponic nutrient solution to the water to get bolder and bigger greens, but they grow well with plain water.
If your house has dry air (especially in winter), check your tank's water level and add more if it gets low.
You may also want to spray your seeds with a spray bottle a few times a day if they start to look dry.
Disease suppression is a term used for types of fungi that can kill young seedlings before they can grow. It is caused by poor air circulation and too much humidity.
Using a fan to circulate air, not keeping the soil too wet, and washing your grow containers thoroughly between grow cycles can help reduce the chance of mold or fungus infecting your microgreens.
You can also prevent steaming by adding a drop or two of thislavender oilto your water before watering your seeds, or by sprinkling a little of itCinammonon the surface of your floor.
Both compounds have antifungal and antimicrobial properties that keep mold and fungi that could harm your microgreens under control.
How do you eat sunflower microgreens?
You can eat sunflower microgreens just like baby lettuce, arugula, or alfalfa sprouts. Both the leaves and the stem are delicious.
You can eat sunflower microgreens raw or cooked. If you're cooking them, add them to the dish after you take it off the heat so they retain most of their crispy and crunchy texture.
They go great with a variety of dishes, including soups, salads, omelettes and scrambled eggs, as well as sandwiches and wraps.
Adding sunflower microgreens to your smoothie or juice is a great way to add extra nutrients as well as a bit of nutty flavor.
You can use microgreens either as their own salad or simply as an ingredient in a mix of salad and other leafy greens.
They even go great in mashed potatoes or rice.
Check out oursTop 30 most popular microgreens recipes herefor more inspiration.
Nutritional information for sunflower microgreens
Like the seeds they grow from, sunflower microgreens are a good source of calories and healthy unsaturated fats. They are therefore great for mixing into salads to create a more filling dish.
A quarter cup of sunflower microgreens contains about 200 calories. That same quarter cup contains about 16 grams of fat.
Sunflower microgreens are a great source of calcium and iron. One serving provides about 2% of your daily calcium needs and 8% of your daily iron needs.
They're also high in fiber and contain a wide range of other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, B vitamins, C, D, and E. Plus magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and trace amounts of zinc, copper, chromium, and manganese.
Compared to eating dry sunflower seeds, microgreens are easier to digest.
All in all, they are a healthy food that can help boost your immunity and reduce disease.
See oursGuide to the health benefits of microgreensfor more information on the nutritional and health benefits of microgreens.
Can I feed my pets sunflower microgreens?
Humans aren't the only creatures who find sunflower microgreens delicious. Some people grow them solely to feed their chickens or rabbits to reduce animal feed costs.
So if you have pets or livestock, consider growing an extra tray for them too. They will thank you!
Sunflower microgreens are non-toxic to any common pet I can think of. So give them to your dog or guinea pig to try.
What is the difference between sunflower microgreens and sprouts?
Microgreens are grown in soil and sprouts are grown in clear water.
Microgreens also grow longer and develop into actual plants that begin converting light into chlorophyll. All of this increases the nutritional value of microgreens. Microgreens also contain a higher amount of fiber.
Both are great for you, and sprouts have their own benefits. So eat whatever you prefer as it increases the amount of quality greens you eat!
What should grow next?
If you've been successful growing sunflower microgreens and have enjoyed the process, why not try branching?other types of microgreens?
- Radish, mustard, broccoli, lettuce, and many other types of microgreens are also inexpensive and easy to grow.
Also, each has its own unique nutritional and flavor profile.
Try lettuce or broccoli if you like it a little milder, or radish or mustard microgreens if you're ready to try something spicier!
Growing microgreens at home is a great way to add extra greens to your diet.
Plus, growing is a fun and educational process for adults and children alike.
Read the articles below to learn more!