I really wanted to grow some microgreens this spring. I figured that the grow lights would be on for the herbs anyway, why not? So far my first attempt has not been a wild success but I have learned a few things.
The right tools can make things a lot easier.
I've always been a "make do" sort of gardener. I happily re-use all sorts of yogurt and take-out containers for seed starting and potting. I'm slow to adopt expensive single-task tools. In the case of my microgreens, I decided to buy the recommended seedling trays, but skip the coordinating bottom trays and just use the bottom trays I already had. This was not a good choice.
The seedling trays didn't fit all the way down into my bottom, so I couldn't bottom water efficiently without cutting the seedling tray down to size. In the process I made a mess out of my already planted lettuce seeds.
Just buy a microgreen seed mix.
I forgot to put the seed mix in my order and didn't want to pay for shipping another item. I decided to go to my seed collection and just try some of my lettuce seeds, some of which were many years old. My germination wasn't great and I don't know that the seeds I chose were very well suited to my purpose. Most microgreen mixes also have herbs and stuff which make your salad more interesting.
Do I really have time for this?
Microgreens require a good bit more attention than potted herbs or succulents. They require more regular watering, succession planting, and you have to be ready to work them into your menu - sometimes when it is not convenient. This spring I've got more going on than I expected, and I'm at the Boston Public Market every Saturday for Master Urban Gardener class - lots of great microgreen mixes for sale there. I think I'll use my current crop of greens to make a tiny salad and move on. Maybe I will try again next year.
Here's what I did:
Fill a few rows of the seedling tray with damp, sterile seed starting mix.
Sprinkle seeds thickly on top and cover with a thin layer of seed starting mix.
Use a spray bottle to wet the top and ensure good contact between soil and seeds. Place under grow lights. So far, so good. (except I should have use a bit of plastic baggie over the top to retain moisture at least until germination)
Then I realized that the trays didn't fit right for efficient bottom watering and things started getting messy.
Yes, there were curse words, but I pushed the seeds and soil back in and kept going. I'm not good at recognizing when I should start over.
Seeds started germinating. Only one variety really took off. I think it was the 5 year old romaine seeds, but I forgot to label.
And they suffered from my infrequent watering - those seed rows dry out really fast when your furnace/radiators are pumping away. I think the circled spot are drought stress, they haven't spread and don't seem to have spores or fuzz. Or, it might be where I accidentally dribbled water on the leaf and the lights burned the leaf? Don't really know or care at this point.