I am getting set up to grow microgreens in my kitchen for the winter. We have very long winters in Vermont, and are pretty far out in the woods. I work from home and most often leave to get fresh vegetables from the store (around 1x/week in the winter), so I'm hoping that the small electricity cost of growing greens indoors is more than made up for by the fuel and shipping savings (my understanding is around $.20/tray of greens in electricity plus energy cost of purchased coir and perlite that cannot be reused). Also, my sense is that growing greens indoors is a healthier option for food during the winter, as most produce in the store is fairly old by the time it gets to us and is also really expensive (our Co-op is notorious for its $8 cauliflower). My understanding is that microgreens are also significantly more nutrient dense than their adult counterparts- the rate I've heard thrown around is 40X.
I have 48" lights from when I've grown seedlings before. I've left room to add another shelf with another set of 48" lights if needed. My understanding from listening to Brian Faulkner's Microgreens podcast, is that I can probably take out two of the four 32 Watt fluorescent bulbs to save on electricity. I bought reusable supplies (growing trays with drainage and lids, baby blanket- soilless growing medium that can be dried/sterilized/reused, and lids for sprouting jars), perlite and Coir (1:4) for non-reusable medium that can be composted, seeds (wheat berries, buckwheat, sunflower, speckles peas, and spring salad mix) from Mumm's Seeds. I have a wheat grass press and plan to store pressed wheat grass in ice cube trays in the freezer, which has worked well in the past (getting the press out, pressing, and cleaning is time-consuming).
Has anyone had great success growing a significant amount of their food under lights in the winter, and if so, can you offer any tips or tricks? I'm especially looking for tips and tricks from people who've stuck with pretty much the same setup for a number of years. Also, I see that there are many books about microgreens, so if anyone has a title that has been very helpful I would appreciate a recommendation. I am a single mom with a 9 month old baby, I work in the evenings (as a therapist online) while my daughter is asleep. My time during the day is pretty limited, so ideally I'm hoping to spend not more than 20 minutes a day keeping this setup at work.
I have shelves with a reflective tent covering it .... similar to a space blanket. I use LED grow lights. I have had moderate success. I have 4 grow light panels. I clearly need a couple more. I have attached a picture of the light with enough of the tent to give you the idea. It is not in use now.
"Good decisions come from experience. Experience comes from bad decisions." ... Mark Twain
I mention them because I watch a yt channel called "on the grow". They're the mad scientists of microgeens. They've done experiments with all types of lights, growing media, varieties of greens, etc. Pretty much everything anyone could want to know. Here's a video of their basics to growing. https://youtu.be/D3vnBEvYDZo Good for simple home grows, or more advanced. Easy going couple that are very informative.
Anyway, they use the same lights, and have had great results with them.
Yes, I would guess removing two of the four lights from your existing lights would be fine. With microgreens, you want them to "stretch" for the light. More light is going to keep them shorter which is not ideal for harvesting.
Trueleaf is the place to get seeds if you don't already have a source.
I've only grown sunflower, and pea shoots so far, but it was super simple.
I'm going to experiment growing with cheesecloth as the growing media and a little bit of nutrient solution. No soil/perlite/coir etc. Super sanitary if it works.