Starting a Microgreens Side-Hustle business from a Beginner's prospective
Hello, my name is Zach and I am the newest member of the On The Grow Team!! In this blog, I’m going to share with y'all my side-hustle of growing and selling microgreens locally in Texas! I’ll discuss my grow setup, favorite Microgreen crops to grow, least favorite crops to grow and what I’ve found to be valuable wisdom in my growth so far from the perspective of a new grower and as a vendor!
As someone who didn't know about growing prior to starting up, how did I find my way into the world of growing microgreens and working for CJ and Mandi at On The Grow? Well, I got my start in growing Microgreens through mowing my neighbors lawn… I have never had a traditional job, I always try to find out what the people around me didn't want to do and then I did it for them. One day in midst of the neighborly small talk I mentioned that I had qualified for the world stage in my high-school robotics competition, and what ensued was a full night of two entrepreneurial nerds, one much more seasoned than the other, contemplating all things plants. CJ had countless patents and even more ideas, engineering related and not, that I was eager to get my hands on.
My first tasks as a new OTG team member were to learn the basics of growing Microgreens, while also mainly focusing on extra experiments, DIY Hydroponic Builds and data collection for On The Grow LLC.
Now, I am growing because college ain't free! I am primarily growing to sell locally at farmers markets as an extra income / side-hustle along with mowing lawns… but even though I mostly grow for farmers market, I certainly still get by on my own supply and incorporate these greens into most any meal I make or eat at home. They just so happen to also make for an easy job for me too.
First, let’s get into my setup… Right now I am growing with Two 18-watt LED’s per shelf, on an 8 tray growing shelf. I (well I would like to) have two fans on each growing shelf and store all extra materials above. I grow in semi-indoors space, an insulated garage with no AC, and a larger fan during the day to keep the entirety of the system cool. I use Miracle Grow potting soil since it's the easiest to find in my city, $13 for more than one cycle of growth. This simplistic and low maintenance setup grows microgreens nearly to the aesthetic of those on the cover of On The Grow YouTube videos.
Next, let's talk about dislikes… So far, my least favorite crop to grow would be peas, because they mold more often than they don't. Likely due to the Texas humidity combined with the semi-outdoor grow space. The diluted vinegar solution (50-100mL vinegar in a 1500mL spray bottle of water) works miracles for my other crops when they exhibit signs of mold, but doesn't do a thing to help here.
Now let’s talk about my favorite crops to grow as a new grower! Most favorite crops are sunflowers, arugula, and radish. They all are solid growers who have yet to have a problem, or even a less than plentiful harvest. They make ridiculously abundant, diverse, and vibrant flavors. Every crop except peas has had exceptional growths, and mind altering tastes. I always tell the people I market my product to, if I can get you to taste it, you’ll buy it, and I rarely lie.
If you are just starting out growing/selling like me, I would suggest watching some of the YouTube videos On The Grow has created for How to Grow Microgreens (I'm not just saying this since I work for them and they are my bosses haha, their videos and eBook have been really helpful)… Learn the main steps involved in growing, but also understand what variables affect what. If you catch mold, all you need is a little diluted vinegar, if the soil is dry when you check on it, water it much much more than you did last time. BOTTOM WATER EVERYTHING, top watering when unnecessary leads to shorter weaker plants that fail to reach peak flavor, especially with smaller greens. Soak all hard-shelled seeds beforehand. Taste test every day and harvest at peak flavor. Make sure that the soil never ever appears dry before you bottom water, and even for a few days after that.
Final Thoughts: These plants are not hard, expensive, or time/space consuming to grow. Even though I work for On The Grow, I rarely send plant questions their way as their content has already covered everything a person, and now a business, needs to know. They don't taste like a plant, they are so much more, taste it and it will shatter your predisposition. They are a new satisfaction, a way to create new experiences and try things that push you out of your comfort zone. I’ve now done six farmers markets and had I not gotten my hands in the dirt and tried this, I would’ve never gained this new skill to grow for my family, friends and community, as well as the skills to market products, and the income to put myself through college.
Want to learn EVERYTHING On The Grow has learned from all their years of growing and experimenting with microgreens? Or maybe even learn some more new recipes to use your Microgreens in?? Then check out their eBooks below!
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Written by: Zach Parish
Edited by: Mandi Warbington
Published: July 19,2021
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