Take Home Earth Day Project: Microgreen Planter From Recycled Materials

Make this cute Hedgehog Microgreen Planter to celebrate Earth Day! The Livingston Library will offer Take Home Kits for this project during the week of April 19th, while supplies last. The project uses found and upcycled materials, and is perfect for older kids, teens, and families. 

If you want to explore growing microgreens on your own, here are a few tips to get you started. 

What are Microgreens?
Microgreens are the edible seedlings of vegetables and herbs. They’re packed with flavor and nutrition, and make a great addition to salads or sandwiches. They’re also fun and easy to grow! 

There are many online resources explaining how to grow microgreens. Most of them have useful information. However, some call for special containers, lights, fertilizers or growth mediums. In my opinion, if you are just getting started you don’t need to buy any special equipment. In fact, except for seeds, you probably have everything you need at home.  

Start with seeds that are easy to grow! Our project uses organic broccoli seeds. Broccoli microgreens sprout in one day and are ready to harvest 10-14 days later. Other easy microgreens are radish, cress, arugula and kohlrabi. These take a little longer to sprout, but like broccoli, they don’t require any presoaking. When shopping for seeds, choose organic seeds specifically labeled as microgreens rather than seeds that have been developed to grow in the garden. 

Use any food safe container that is 1-3 inches high. If you are recycling, wash it really well. Our project uses a milk carton that has been washed and cut down to size, 

Growth Medium:
Soil is the most common growth medium, however our project grows microgreens hydroponically. Most microgreens do well when grown this way. The plants need a growth medium for support. Our project uses cheesecloth as the growth medium.  If you don’t have cheesecloth, you can use paper towels (4 layers). I’m tempted to buy some coconut coir mats for future “crops” but I haven’t done it yet.

Spread the seeds evenly across the growth medium. Our project used 1 teaspoon of broccoli seeds to cover 4 square inches. 

Drainage and Water:
Microgreens need to stay moist, but you can’t let your seeds sit in pools of water. You need to create good drainage. Our project uses a layer of clean pebbles at the bottom of the container. The cheesecloth sits on top of them, and excess water drains into the pebbles. Another option is to make drainage holes in your container and place a plate or container underneath it to catch excess water. Check your microgreens daily to make sure the growth medium is moist. Use a spray bottle to water them.  

Light and Warmth:
Most seeds germinate best in darkness, so you’ll want to cover your seeds until they have sprouted and started putting down roots. Make sure the cover is loose enough to let air in! Once the plants start growing upward, they need light. Place your container in a sunny window. You’ll want a location that stays about 65-75 degrees. 

Harvest your microgreens when they are about 2 inches tall. Use scissors to cut the plant above the growth medium. The plants won’t regrow, so compost the roots and plant a new crop! 

Have fun and don’t be afraid to experiment!  

Karen deWilde, Teen Librarian

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