I’ve been receiving quite a number of queries about this and I think it’s about time to create a short and informative article about disposing of microgreens waste. And when I say microgreens waste, I’m talking about the roots, the used soil, the tray, and the rest of the microgreens that have not been eaten or are already spoiled. As a grower or farmer myself, it is expected that there’ll be excess or waste from the microgreens I plant every week. And as an advocate of sustainable farming, I always make it to a point that whatever wastes I collect are being recycled accordingly. So, how do I do it?

When we harvest microgreens and use them for smoothies, or salads, the roots are left behind. That’s the difference between sprouts and microgreens – the roots aren’t to be eaten. Now, if you’re wondering how I dispose of them, it’s easy. Just dump them into the compost bin. Easy, peasy! On a serious note though, there was a time when I did try to compost them properly. Since the roots are embedded in the soil, separating them would need much effort and time. But since it’s biodegradable, there’s no need to do so. The roots along with the soil can easily be composted. To compost properly I’d need more space to let a big enough pile develop, and I’d need machinery to turn it regularly. To properly compost things, the pile has to be a minimum of 1x1x1m, and the inside has the reach a certain temperature for a certain amount of time to kill off any unwanted pathogens or mould. This method didn’t work out well so I am now doing a different way to do it.

What I do now is I put all my leftovers into massive 1m3 bags and there are a couple of people that come and take it away to use in their gardens. From the previous properties I was at, I would just start making piles all over the place, and ungerminated seeds would start coming up giving an abundance of the rocket, kale, radish, and the occasional cabbage or broccoli. These ungerminated seeds still give these amazing mature counterparts of the microgreens I grow so it’s a win-win situation. I use a little bit at home in the garden, but very little. I don’t have much of a garden at home, to be honest, but I am working on it.

The good thing about the process I was able to establish in terms of sowing my microgreens is that I was able to manage the number of seeds to be sown and the length of time needed for them to grow. Thus, the minimal waste of microgreens. If they reach a point that they can’t be sold, especially when I sell them at the market, I take the leftover back to the nursery for the compost bag. They all do end up in the compost pile which local people know about and come to collect stuff from it regularly.

Now, for the used trays, if you’ve bought a tray or two of my microgreens, you know that I reuse those plastic trays. I primarily sell live trays of microgreens where the greens are still rooted in the soil in the plastic tray. Once all greens have been used up, my customers return their trays and I’ll have them washed up for another use. Sometimes they return the trays clean, but either way, I’m happy with it. If they have a garden, they can definitely make use of the soil and throw them in there or if they have farms, the soil can be added to worm farms or compost piles.

If the microgreens wilt due to lack of water, don’t dispose of them yet as they may still be able to be revived either. Water them and leave them somewhere cool overnight and most of the tray should come back to life.

One question you might have after reading this is if those leftover microgreens can still regrow. Imagine you’ve harvested all of the microgreens you have and what you have now are those stems and roots left behind that are still stuck in the soil. Can they still regrow? We’ll have that topic in the next blog post.