Microgreens have grown in popularity over the last several years because of their bold flavors and many nutrients. Because they are so fragile, however, they are extremely expensive to produce and ship. Many gardeners have started to grow their own microgreens, in order to capitalize on the health aspects and minimize the monetary constraints. Along with the soil, seed choice, and light, one very important and often overlooked part of the growing process is choosing the right water.
How Does Water Affect your Microgreens
On a normal day, you probably don’t think much about the water you use, but because microgreens grow so fast and are so tiny, the type of water is important. In only a few short weeks, your seeds go from seeds to microgreens, and besides soil and light, water is the most important factor in their growth.
When the water is bad
When the water is bad, the plants will not germinate, or they will germinate and quickly wither. If they do grow to fruition, they might taste metallic or chlorinated, and that could ruin the experience. Bad water is filled with chlorine, chemicals, or other elements that are not conducive to growing healthy plants. The Ph level of bad water is unbalanced as well.
When the water is good
When the water is good, you will produce plants that are vibrant and healthy. They will taste great and be packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Good water is free from chemicals that would hurt the plants or affect the taste of your microgreens. It would also have a proper Ph level.
Although most people do not spend too much time thinking about Ph levels when you are growing microgreens you need to do so in order to cultivate the best tasting product.
What is a PH Level?
Ph levels refer to how much acidity your water has in it, with low numbers being more acidic and high numbers being more basic. The acidity of the water affects the way that plants use nutrients and minerals, so it is extremely important to get the number right.
How Can I Test For It?
Gardening stores sell Ph testing kits that you can use to monitor your Ph levels. Using strips of litmus paper to dip into your water is the most convenient way to test, and there is also a chemical you can mix in the water. If you want to test the water without buying a testing kit, simply grow your microgreens and see what happens. If they grow well without yellowed leaves, then the Ph level is acceptable.
What is a Good Range for Growing Microgreens?
Microgreens grow best in a slightly acidic environment. A Ph level of six is the magic number for microgreens, and anything in the range of 5.5-6.5 is considered acceptable. If the Ph level is not right to start with, you can manually adjust it.
How can I adjust my PH levels?
Most municipal water has a Ph level of 7 or 8, so it might become necessary to adjust the Ph level of the water before you use it. This can be done simply with lemon juice. You only need about a ½ teaspoon of lemon juice per gallon of water before you stir thoroughly. Retest the water and repeat the process if it is still too high.
If the water is too basic, this is a little trickier to solve, as you do not generally have as many basic elements laying around your house. Try part of an antacid tablet, stir, and retest the water. Or you could also experiment with baking powder. An extremely small amount is needed.
Municipalities have chlorine in their water to keep the water safe and free from bacteria, but if you are planning on using tap water, this may not be the safest alternative in which to grow your microgreens. There are several ways to tell that your water has too much chlorine.
- If the leaves of your plants are yellowing and curling.
- If you can smell the chlorine in the water itself.
- If you can taste the chlorine in your microgreens.
Because microgreens are so delicate, the type of water used can really affect the taste, so there are several ways to get rid of the chlorine which includes:
This is the cheapest way to get rid of chlorine, although it does require some time. Simply pour your tap water into a bucket and let it sit for 24 hours. The chlorine will evaporate, leaving the water safe for growing microgreens.
Using a charcoal filter is much simpler, but it is also more costly because the filters have to be replaced. Simply put the charcoal filter into the water and forget about it, until it is time to change the filter.
Water Affects the Taste of Your Microgreens
Because of the brief amount of time that it takes your microgreens to grow, (from 1-2 weeks in most cases,) the quality of your water will definitely affect the taste of your vegetables.
Although we are spoiled with water that comes straight from our taps, take some time to experiment to see what works best for your microgreens. You could run the experiments concurrently and with the short growth time, it would only take you a few weeks of time to see which type of water works best. If you used the same seeds and planted a tray that was watered exclusively with tap water, one for filtered water, and one for bottled water, you could examine the microgreens for size, texture, and taste, and see which water works best.
If you use tap water, it is best to remove the chlorine first, either by the evaporation method or a charcoal filter. Water your plants with room temperature water.
Using filtered water is ideal for growing microgreens. Without chlorine or other harsh chemicals, your microgreens will grow well.
Not all waters are created equal, so if you are going to use bottled water, do some research first to see where it comes from and if it contains any chemicals that could harm your plants. Fresh spring water would be good for microgreens, or other quality waters.
Gardeners often get so excited about planting seeds and harvesting the vegetables that they don’t consider the ramifications of the water quality. By ensuring a proper Ph without chlorine and other harsh chemicals, you are setting your microgreens up for success.