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What Are the Costs Involved in Growing Microgreens?

Now that you have decided to start your own microgreens indoor garden, how much will it cost? There are a lot of questions you are going to have to ask yourself first.

  • What size garden do I want and where am I going to put it?
  • How many types of plants do I want to grow?
  • What do I want to grow them in?
  • Do I want to try, soil or hydroponic?
  • Where will I buy my supplies from?
  • Am I growing just for me or do I want to grow a little for others?

Let’s take these one at a time, shall we? The answers will determine the general cost in the end.

What Size of Garden do I want and Where am I Going to Put it?

These questions will eventually incorporate some of the answers to some of your other questions, but we’ll just start with them first. My suggestion is to start small with maybe one or two growing pots or trays that will fit unobtrusively in your house. Somewhere easy to get to and with a good light source unless you are planning to add artificial lighting to the setup.

A window sill is a good place to put a small garden together such as in the kitchen. If you decide to do soil, a few small pots with a tray to catch the water works well.

Pots on the Windowsill

Hydroponically, a large wide mouth mason jar or two, will also work well. The cost is a small part of this setup for a few pots or jars to start with.

Wide Mouth Mason Jar

If you are interested in going bigger than you might want to consider using trays as opposed to several pots or jars. The cost of trays is not really that much of an investment and is probably cheaper than buying several pots or jars.

How Many types of plants do I want to grow?

There are over a hundred different types of seeds available to grow microgreens and herbs. Find a good reputable seed source. I recommend True leaf as I am also an affiliate of them. They have a large selection of seeds in both organic and regular. Some of the more suggested and easiest types of microgreens to grow are:

  • Radish
  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Kohlrabi
  • Mustard
  • Sunflower
  • Lettuce

Of course, as with any plant each microgreen has its own requirements and needs to be grown successfully. Some of the microgreens that are considered harder to grow include:

  • Celery
  • Cilantro
  • Spinach
  • Leek
  • Dill
  • Basil
  • Cress
  • Carrots

Overall, microgreens are relatively easy to grow so try which ever one you like regardless of which category it falls into. Experimenting is one of the challenges to enjoying the growing process.

Cost wise the seeds would be the only thing you would have to pay for and that cost depends on where you buy the seeds and how many you buy.

Do I want to try, soil or hydroponic?

Now that you have decided to start a microgreen garden and found the location and decided on what to grow, you will need to decide on how you will them. Soil is the traditional way of growing plants, even microgreens. The soil becomes the medium to grow in. If you are like me and want to grow hydroponically, you will need to select a medium other than soil to grow on. Hydroponically means that the plant grows in water not soil. To keep the seed from falling into the water a medium is used to hold the seed. Here is what I use to grow my microgreens.

I Grow on Food Grade Screens Cut for Sale Size

There are different types of medium that can be used. If you are growing in Mason jars you will be using net pots with a grow medium in it. Common types for net pots are:

  • Oasis cubes, an engineered hydrophilic foam
  • Coco Peat/Coco Coir made from coconut husks
  • Expanded Clay Pellets, small clay pellets
  • Sure To Grow, a plastic based grow medium
  • Starter Plugs made from organic compost
  • Rockwool made by melting rock and spinning it into thin long fibers, similar to fiberglass

If you decide to use a tray method you can use some of the same grow media as with the Mason jars, but you can use other types such as:

  • Coco/Coco coir pads or mats
  • Food grade screening material. We used these to grow on.
  • Burlap, one of the cheapest and one of the most difficult to work with
  • Hemp mats made from woven hemp fiber
  • Biostrate, a felt textile
  • Poly foam, not as common and can contain contaminants
  • Micro Mats, made from biodegradable wood fibers
  • Paper towels

Growing hydroponically comes with other things to consider as it is different than growing in soil. More on that in another article.

The price of course will depend on what and how many of the different choices available. Keep in mind that there are pros and cons to using each type. You might want to do a little research into each kind and find the one that satisfies you the most.

Where will I buy my supplies?

This is a big one to consider as everyone has a different price for what they sell. If you go online you will find several places to buy items for your garden from cheap to expensive. From single items to complete starter kits.

I buy my seeds almost exclusively at True Leaf. I use Amazon and Bootstrap Farmer for my trays, air pumps, tubing, connectors and miscellaneous other items.

Microgreens are usually planted in 10×20 inch greenhouse trays, but any smaller tray can also be used. As I said earlier, small flower pots and Mason jars make a good alternative to trays. A few years back Penn State University did a study of the costs and yields of growing microgreens. The students in the Hydroponics and Aquaponics course planted a variety of microgreens. They used a 10-row seeding tray with peat-based potting soil and a 20-10-20 fertilizer. They figured the cost per tray was $0.67. The seeds used ranged from $0.47 to over $2.21 for 10 grams of seed, depending on which type of seed was used. So, we are talking basically pennies for a tray of microgreens. If you want to add the extraneous costs such as labor, electric and other costs, you can add another $2.00 and change to the total.

The yields were impressive. Just looking at a few of the results shows that there is a big cost savings in growing your own compared to paying market cost. For instance:

  • Arugula generated 5.28 ounces of microgreens – the going rate for arugula at Fry’s is $0.70 an ounce or $3.69 for the tray that cost just $1.14 to grow.
  • Basil generated a little more at 5.76 ounces – Fry’s gets $1.99 for half an ounce. That’s $22.92 for the same amount of basil grown in your tray.

As you can see, growing your own has many benefits over store bought, including a little left-over change in your pocket.

Am I growing just for me or do I want to grow a little for others?

If you are just growing for you and your family the costs are minimal. Now if you are considering scaling your garden to accommodate growing for others than you will need to opt for a larger setup. That might include, moving to heavy duty growing trays, adding lights, adding fans, or if going hydroponic, picking a nutrient and adding a bubbler system to keep the roots aerated. Additionally, you might want to add racks or stands for your trays or pots and jars. This of course will add extra expenses to the list based on what you want to do. You might even want to move this little garden into a spare room or basement for the expansion.

I can tell you that I have mine in the living room on one wall. It makes it easier to manage and I like the ambience it generates with the lights and the sounds of growing. To each his own, I guess.

Got carrots growing at the moment. Bugs is a happy camper.

Whatever you decide, don’t let the unknown get in your way and forge ahead. You will be surprised at how easy it is and how enjoyable at the same time.

Until next time remember, Happy Growing!

Uncle Ralph

 

 
 

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