Ever since I started growing my own broccoli sprouts, I have really wanted to find a way to grow more greens on my kitchen counter – without soil. And no, I don’t want to set up and manage a complicated hydroponics system – not yet, at least.
I must admit, growing sprouts has really spoiled me. I mean, I can harvest and eat the greens within days, they can be grown indoors year-round and I don’t have to buy soil which ends up making a mess and attracts bugs, etc…
Not that I have any hard feelings toward the backyard vegetable garden, but seriously, I am even lazier now than I was before. And now I want my fresh organic greens all the time – without having to drive to the store. Plus, I want them cheap (talk about picky!). By the way, if you haven’t seen my latest sprout salad recipe, check it out.
So low and behold, I have come across microgreen seeds that can be grown without soil and harvested within 7-10 days. Not only can I now have my fresh organic greens year-round without having to plant an outdoor vegetable garden that will get eaten by rabbits anyways, but I can have more variety than the 4-seed sprout mix that I use.
Can Plants Grow Without Soil?
As you already know, yes they can. However, not everything can be grown without soil. Plus, even greens grown in a hydroponics system require nutrients to develop and thrive.
That said, some microgreens don’t need soil to grow, as long as you provide them with a healthy moist environment, such as a paper towel in your kitchen. These “vegetables” don’t require months to develop into full-grown plants because you harvest them within 7-14 days of “planting”, while they are still small (but not too small).
I’m talking kale, red lettuce, oakleaf lettuce, red amaranth, broccoli raab, spinach and more – just the smaller, tender version. You may never buy salad greens at the grocery store again!
How to Grow Lettuce / Microgreens
This video shows exactly how to grow an entire tray of fresh organic kale microgreens using the paper towel strategy. All you really need is growing trays, paper towels, seeds and water.
Ideally, we want 2 trays that fit inside each other because this promotes a healthier growing environment for the seeds. The top tray will have drainage holes in it so that the excess water can drain into the lower tray, which will prevent the seeds from “drowning”. Furthermore, this technique also enables us to water from the bottom, so we don’t push down the seeds (as Marty explains in the video below).
Complete Microgreens Kit
Everything needed to start growing microgreens, including seeds & no-soil grow pads!
The Cost Savings…
I love growing microgreens this way because it takes a lot of the work and cost out of homegrown vegetables. Eating a fresh organic salad for dinner every night could not be any easier (at this cheap a price, that is).
In addition to not having to drive to your local supermarket to buy ingredients for a salad, I don’t have to go out of my way to buy seeds either. I can simply buy them online – for cheap. I’m talking 5,000-10,000 seeds for about $5. Go figure.
If you don’t have your own trays (or containers that you can turn into makeshift growing areas), you can buy them for about $2.50 per tray. (Then recycle and re-use them to save even more money). Without buying fancy equipment materials or fertilizers, you can harvest an entire 20″ x 10″ batch of mini-lettuce for way under $5 bucks. It becomes cheaper after that.
Just like with sprouts, you can choose the lettuce you want to grow depending on the flavors and nutrients you want. Growing a variety is an easy way to incorporate more nutrients into one’s diet while keeping the salads interesting.
And if you get tired of microgreen salads, don’t forget sandwiches, wraps, omelets, green drinks, pizza an soup toppings and more. Trust me, once you start growing lettuce, you’ll find even more creative ideas for healthy dishes.