When I first heard about microgreens one of the questions I asked myself was whether I should grow them myself, or just buy them. I developed a taste for them, so I knew if I was going to be eating microgreens it had to be one or the other.
Buy microgreens at first. Find the varieties you like most. Consider the value of your time, the supplies required, and if you enjoy gardening and growing. If you think it’s worth it: order seeds and grow in whatever containers you have on hand next to a window. If enjoyable over time: buy 10 x 20 trays and an inexpensive LED light for consistent harvests.
There are some hidden costs to both growing and buying microgreens, read-on to find out more!
Cost difference of growing vs buying microgreens
Growing microgreens will have an up-front investment in cost. You can get started for under $100, but there are a few key things you’ll want to buy. Check out the next section for a bit more detail on what you need to grow microgreens (and click here for more in-depth microgreen growing guides).
You can grow a tray of microgreens for around $2-$3 (soil, seed, electricity, and water). A microgreen tray will yield somewhere around 10 oz (280 g) of microgreens. So that’s around $0.20 per oz before factoring in your time.
Buying microgreens usually costs you around $5 for a 2oz (57 g) pack. Prices might be a little bit different in your area, but that should be a good ballpark. That works out to $2.50/oz, almost 10x the cost of growing yourself.
Factor in the cost of delivery if you’re considering buying. Also factor in the time it will take to get to a retailer that sells microgreens if your regular grocery store doesn’t.
How much time does it take to grow microgreens?
The other big cost when growing your own microgreens is your time. It takes on average around 10 minutes to get your soil and seed measured out, seeds spread, everything watered, and a little cleanup. Then you need to spend 5 minutes every day or two watering and making sure everything is looking good. Then around 5 or 10 minutes to harvest and cleanup.
The time for a tray of microgreens drops quickly when you’re growing multiple trays. There’s a huge efficiency in watering 10 trays vs watering one for example. It’s pretty much the same amount of work to clean up after harvesting 10 trays as after harvesting 1. So keep that in mind too.
When comparing growing vs buying, you’ll also want to factor in how much time it takes to shop. If your regular grocery store has microgreens it doesn’t take much extra time at all. But if you have to go out of your way, or pay a delivery service, that’s definitely worth factoring in.
What do you need to grow microgreens
You need a bit of start-up equipment and supplies to grow microgreens, but less than you might think.
The minimum you’ll need to get up and running :
- Scissors for harvesting
- A container to grow in, a plastic tupperware container, or old planting tray works great
- Seeds (more info on choosing microgreens seeds here)
- Lighting, a windowsill can work, or most fluorescent or LED lights
- Soil: any potting mix will work, soilless potting mixes are usually more sterile (more info on preventing mold , and removing it once you have it).
With the basics above you can grow some great tasty little microgreens. I’d recommend growing with the above minimal investment at least a few times.
Then if you like the process and want more consistent results and bigger harvests, invest a little more:
- 10” x 20” greenhouse trays : I recommend one perforated on top, and one without holes on the bottom. Then you can water between the trays, and the soil wicks up as much moisture as it needs. I’ve had great results with 1” and 2” deep trays.
- LED lighting (lots and lots of options online), I keep a list of recommended supplies and equipment updated with the best options I can find.
- Try new varieties of seeds: There are over 100 varieties of seeds you can buy online, that’s enough to keep you busy for quite a while!
Benefits of growing microgreens vs buying
Growing microgreens lets you completely control the process. If you’re concerned about genetically modified organisms (GMO) or eating certified organic, growing your own is the only way to be 100% sure you know what’s going into your food.
The other HUGE benefit is the selection. You can buy seeds for over 100 different varieties of microgreens online. That means you could try a different type every week for over two years. It’s a great way to add some variety to your diet and try something new.
Your local selection might not be amazing, so it opens up some interesting opportunities.
A big opportunity is selling some microgreens on the side to offset your costs. If you’re already growing a tray or two per week for yourself, you can grow 1 or 2 more pretty easily and sell them to friends and family.
Microgreens also make a great gift. Drop off a bowl of microgreens to the health-conscious people in your life.
Benefits of buying microgreens
Microgreens are a great way to get a ton of nutrition in a small package. Buying them gives you a few cool advantages over growing.
The first is saving your time! Growing microgreens takes time, but so does researching and learning. When buying, you get a consistent product right now! There’s no learning process and inevitable hiccups along the way.
The other big bonus is trying different varieties. When you grow: you have to buy the seeds, then wait at least a week, sometimes three, before you know if you even like the flavor. When you’re buying you try out different varieties every week, as long as they’re available locally.
How close are you to a microgreens retailer?
Do a quick google of “microgreens + your city” to get an idea of who is selling microgreens. You can check out the produce sections of stores in person, or call/email microgreens farmers in your area and ask where they sell their produce.
Sometimes microgreens farmers decide it’s more trouble than it’s worth to deliver microgreens direct-to-consumer. But what they sometimes do is go through distributors or community supported agriculture (CSA) services.
The way CSA’s often work is that they’ll gather produce options from many farms, then you can order what you like, and the CSA handles pickup/delivery. This can be a great way to get fresh local produce that might otherwise be hard to find. Think of it like a farmer’s market that does pickup or delivery.
Is microgreen delivery available in your town?
Microgreen delivery can be another great option to consider when you’re trying to decide to buy or grow.
Many cities and areas have microgreen growers that do door-to-door delivery. If you can get door-to-door delivery you can save a lot of time vs growing your own. You don’t even have to go down to the local market or health-food shop.
Some companies will even deliver when you’re not home. A common method is to have you put a cooler out at your front door. Then they can deliver into the cooler and your microgreens are protected from the heat or cold.
I’m Alex Lafreniere. I learned a lot about plants when I built and operated a landscaping company. But, there’s always more to learn. Ever since travelling across the world, I’ve wanted to find ways to bring more tropical and exotic plants into my life. This is the site where I share everything I’ve learned with you.
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