Microgreens can be very lucrative both in terms of health and money. If you’re new to microgreens and have a gardening background, then you should be having doubts about using fertilizer for microgreens.
Do microgreens need fertilizer? Using fertilizer for microgreens can result in beautiful colored leaves that are also large in size. The use of fertilizer depends on your growth medium and not all of them need fertilizer. Microgreen seeds that are small in size can make the best use of fertilizer as they need more nutrients from outside during the growth stage.
If you’re in a hurry, the above answer should give you an idea. If you want to know more about using fertilizer for microgreens, then this entire post is dedicated to that topic.
Let’s dive in.
Should I Fertilize Microgreens?
We could simply say yes, but there’s a bit more to that.
The point of using fertilizer for microgreens is to improve the overall quality of the output. You want to have bright-colored leaves, more nutrients, and much larger shoots that look and taste fantastic.
Microgreens are different from regular plants in the sense that you don’t need to follow the same process. Most microgreens are perfectly capable of giving you a good yield without the need for any fertilizer.
So if you’re in a budget, then there is no need for any fertilizer for your microgreens. Also, if you want to keep everything natural and organic, you can always go for compost or organic fertilizers that are great for growing natural microgreens.
One of the main factors that decide whether you need fertilizer for your microgreen or not is the medium you’re using for growth.
If you’re using soil, then there might not be a need for any fertilizer. Make sure you have good soil in your hands with good nutrients and that should be fine for the most part. You can use compost instead of fertilizers to enhance the growth of your microgreens.
If you’re growing on hydroponic pads or other growth mediums, then the use of fertilizer becomes more of a necessity. Since there is no soil here, the microgreens will depend on external sources for nutrients and fertilizer can deliver that without any issues.
As mentioned above, small seeds will be the ones getting the most out of fertilizer. If you grow two batches microgreens with and without fertilizer side by side, you can see that the fertilized batch will be a lot better in terms of color, size, nutrients, and also taste.
To answer your question of whether you should fertilize your microgreens, you should if you’re using non-soil growth mediums. You can also use fertilizer for soil mediums if you’re working with small seeds that depend on external nutrients for growth.
The Perfect Soil For Microgreen Growth
Figuring out the right medium for your microgreens will also help you decide if you want to use fertilizer or not.
Microgreens are the easiest to grow when it comes to indoor farming. This means you will be fine with any soil if the pH is neutral and not polar.
Your Soil is fit for microgreen growth if
- it has a fine texture
- it is tested for pathogens and found free from microbes
- it has good water retention
- it has good aeration
- it hasn’t been contaminated by insects or birds
When it comes to the soil for microgreens, you can either get one from the store or you can make it yourself.
If you’re not a fan of getting soil from the stores, then there’s good news. You can make your own soil by mixing 4 parts of peat moss, 1 part vermiculite, 1 part perlite, and 1 part compost.
This soil mix is very effective for microgreens and we’ve seen some excellent results. Microgreens will get all the nutrients from this soil mix and you won’t have to go for fertilizer with this medium.
If you fail to add compost to this soil mix, then the use of a fertilizer is a necessity. Your homemade soil must have either fertilizer or compost in it for the best results.
Soil From Stores
If you don’t want to make your own soil, then you can get some soil from your go-to soil vendor.
Make sure that you’re going for high-quality soil as you don’t want to bring the quality of your microgreens down. Without the proper nutrients, your microgreens will exhibit stunted growth and might suffer in the taste and appearance department as well.
Microgreens need to consume a lot of nutrients in their early stage for fast growth. When you get high-quality soil with the right mix of nutrients, you can be sure that your microgreens will have nice colors, large leaves, and superior taste.
The store-bought soil is already filled with all the major nutrients, so you don’t have to use fertilizer in this case.
Compost Vs Fertilizer
If soil is your medium of growth, then you have two options. You can use nutrient-rich soil that has compost or soil that can be fertilized.
How do you know which one is better?
There is no easy answer to this. There are so many kinds of microgreens and each one of them will give you a different result with these two options.
In our opinion, if you want the most natural way of doing things, then you can add compost to your soil mix. This will enrich the soil allowing your microgreens to absorb the nutrients consistently.
But if you want the best quality of crops, sometimes going the man-made way is the right choice. Fertilizer can act really fast and help your microgreens grow faster, lusher, and even with more nutrients.
But you have to exercise caution when working with fertilizer. It is possible to overdose your soil which can do more harm than good. With the right amount of fertilizer, you will have a happy crop of microgreens that are gorgeously green and super healthy.
What if you use a soil-less medium?
Well, in that case, you would benefit from using fertilizer. In the absence of soil, the microgreens can’t absorb nutrients they need so you have to feed them artificially with the help of fertilizer.
Some of the most commonly used soil-less mediums are
- Hydroponic mats
- Coco coir mats
- Hemp mats
Like one would expect, with the use of fertilizer, you would get much better results especially if you’re using any of the ones mentioned above.
Organic Fertilizer For Microgreens
Organic fertilizer for microgreens is perfect if you want to add more nourishment to your microgreens without going the artificial route. It can also save you money as they are easy to get without having to pay a lot of money.
There is a huge market for microgreens that are grown organically. If you use organic fertilizer, then your microgreens will automatically be the first choice for those who prefer organic products.
If you manage to use only vegan fertilizer for your microgreens, then it just makes it a solid choice for vegans which is a more sophisticated market that is willing to spend more.
You have a lot of options when it comes to organic fertilizers and we have discussed some of them below.
Liquid Fertilizer For Microgreens
Liquid fertilizer for microgreens is a good choice for those who use soil-less mediums for their microgreens. You can also use them on soil so that roots can absorb nutrients at a faster rate.
There are many kinds of liquid fertilizer for microgreens like Kelp fertilizer, fish emulsion, and more.
Kelp Fertilizer For Microgreens
If you have a gardening background, then there is a good chance of you knowing what kelp is.
If you’re not familiar with kelp, it is a seaweed that is brown in color and is rich in nutrients making a great choice for a fertilizer. Most gardeners who like to keep things organic often go to kelp fertilizer as it gives you excellent results.
You usually get kelp fertilizer as a concentrate that you can dilute to use on your microgreen farm.
You can add the diluted kelp fertilizer to a spray bottle then spray it on the medium of your microgreen farm. Traditionally, kelp fertilizer is applied to the leaves. As far as microgreens are concerned, using them on the medium would give you the best results.
With kelp fertilizer, you have the following advantages
- It is eco friendly
- It is sourced from a sustainable source
- It is cost-efficient
- Ease of use
- Yields are consistent and amazing
- You can make your own kelp fertilizer if you spend some time on it
Here are some kelp fertilizer that people and you can get them on Amazon(aff links)
- Liquid Kelp Organic Seaweed Extract Fertilizer Concentrate
- Organics Rx Sea Kelp 100 Seaweed Fertilizer
- Neptune’s Harvest Kelp Meal Multi-Purpose Plant Food
Fish Fertilizer For Microgreens
Fish fertilizer for microgreens is another effective fertilizer that gives excellent results.
They are made from whole fish parts and parts that are unusable. Once they are ready, they are grounded into a paste. Later, the oil from them is removed leaving what they call fish emulsion.
Often, manufacturers add some sulfuric acid to reduce the pH level which prevents the growth of microbes in the soil.
You can get dry fish fertilizer as well which are preferred for soil growth mediums.
Though fish fertilizer is a good choice, people usually don’t prefer fish emulsion for indoor microgreen farms because of the odor. If this bothers you, you can go with dry fish fertilizer that doesn’t emit a lot of smell.
Dry Fertilizer For Microgreens
If you’re using soil as your growth medium, then using a dry fertilizer can help you get three major nutrients namely calcium, phosphorus, and potassium.
Your soil will probably need 15 times calcium when compared with phosphorus and potassium. Calcium is the most missed out mineral in soil and if there is one mineral you can add to it, this is probably it.
Adding a dry fertilizer like calcium carbonate can help you fix this problem. You can also use eggshells to improve the calcium level in your soil.
To get potassium, you can use either banana peels or wood ash as both of them have good levels of potassium in them.
For phosphate, you can use a bone meal. You can also use soft rock phosphate that also contains some calcium and a lot of trace minerals.
These are the easy DIY ways to increase the level of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium in your soil.
You can also get over the counter dry fertilizer for your microgreens and that would work just fine. We prefer the homemade ones as you’re in complete control.
Microgreens Hydroponic Fertilizer
Do hydroponic microgreens need fertilizer? If your growth medium doesn’t have any intrinsic nutritional value, then it is necessary to use fertilizer for hydroponic mediums like fiber mats, hemp, Rockwool, and others.
Is it an absolute must? No. If you have fast-growing microgreens or microgreens with large seeds, then they would do well on their own. There is no need for fertilizer in this situation.
Fertilizer for hydroponic microgreens is most effective when you are dealing with slow-growing microgreens and those with small seeds. Using fertilizer improves the growth rate and gives you deep-colored leaves that are larger and nutrient-rich.
The best hydroponic microgreens fertilizer would be the FloraGro fertilizer from General Hydroponics. It is water-soluble making it easier to use. This fertilizer comes with 2% nitrogen, 1% phosphorus, and 6% potassium which is a good balance.
The fertilizer is balanced for pH and won’t affect the pH of the water you use. Experts recommend mixing teaspoons of FloraGro in a gallon of water for the best results.
Best Fertilizer For Microgreens – Wrapping Up
There are a lot of options when it comes to choosing a fertilizer for microgreens.
In our opinion, the best fertilizer for microgreens is the Kelp fertilizer that is made from seaweeds. This is an organic fertilizer that is proven to give excellent results.
You can use this fertilizer for soil-less grow mats i.e. hydroponic grow mats to produce awesome looking and tasting microgreens.
For those who soil, just use soil that is enriched with compost. You can also use a fertilizer like kelp or fish emulsion, but the results aren’t going to be that different.