Growing microgreens in South Africa

Microgreens are taking the South African food industry by storm. In fact, you’ve probably already had them at your local restaurant or seen them in little plastic punnets at a nearby grocery store. They’re typically quite small, range in colour and are loved by chefs, foodies and healthy eaters because they’re supremely good for you, beautiful to look at and extremely tasty! 

In 2019, the Mail & Guardian went so far as to liken microgreens to the magical chewing gum from Charlie & The Chocolate Factory, for their ability to pack a real punch of flavour in such tiny morsels. Even Farmer’s Weekly, in 2020, promoted microgreens as “a tiny crop with big returns”.

According to Straits Research (2023), South Africa’s microgreens market size is expected to reach US$22mil by 2031. While the market grows, innovations like Homefarm’s indoor farming systems will enable the start of microscale agribusinesses, creating jobs and enriching the supply chain.

Where can you find microgreens?

When not enjoyed at your favourite restaurant, microgreens can be purchased from most food retailers to be enjoyed at home. Another way of sourcing microgreens and enjoying them at home is by growing them yourself.

Challenges and solutions for growing your own microgreens

The upside of growing microgreens and microherbs at home is that they grow really quickly and  don’t take up much space — you can even grow them indoors. To be successful in growing microgreens indoors from the comfort and convenience of your home there are a number of things to consider along your home-growing microgreen journey. 

These include using a ‘grow light’, maintaining a moderate temperature range and using a good quality ‘grow medium’. Below we go into more detail on exactly what to consider if you are interested in growing these miraculous little crops at home.

Choosing a grow medium

  • Microgreens can be grown on a range of different grow media including:

    • Coconut coir

    • Peat moss

    • Germination mix

    • Hemp, Bamboo or Jute ‘grow mats’

    Your irrigation method will influence your choice of grow media but it’s also important to have good aeration.

​​Potting your grow medium

Once you’ve chosen the grow medium, you need a container to house it. Anything from a shallow tupperware to an old ice cream tub could work.

  • Make holes in the bottom of your selected container, roughly 5mm in diameter. You can punch the holes through the container material using a nail or the tip of a soldering iron if you feel like being fancy.
  • Make about 10 holes, spaced evenly over the bottom surface — please ask someone to help you if necessary: safety first.
  • Place a piece of paper towel at the bottom of the container to prevent the grow medium from falling through the holes you’ve created.
  • Now you can fill your container up roughly two thirds of the way to the top, with your grow medium.

Sowing your microgreens seeds

Evenly scatter your microgreens seeds across the top of your grow medium.

If you’re measuring everything out precisely, you can use 0.03g of seeds per cm2 of surface area over your grow medium, for the following kinds of microherbs:

  • Broccoli
  • Kale
  • Mizuna
  • Kohlrabi

Be careful not to clump too many seeds too close to each other during this process.

Light source

If you want your microgreens to grow into straight, healthy and strong crops then simply leaving them in a sunny room or on a window shelf won’t do.


Microgreens need a light source above the canopy, that’s neither too close nor too far away, for up to 14 hours daily. Because of this, it’s worth considering supplementary lighting, such as fluorescent lights or LEDs.


If your lighting conditions are not just right, your microgreens will grow in an elongated form with tiny leaves — a phenomenon known as ‘bolting’. When crops bolt, they concentrate growing energy into their stems so that they can get closer to their light source.


Watering your microgreens, as with any crop, is a vital part of the process. Miss a day and your beautiful microgreen crop can wilt, flop over and even die. Watering is probably the most time-consuming part of the process, usually requiring that you be present and manually water the crops.

Your crops will most likely need to be watered every other day, so if you’re planning a holiday or long weekend away make sure to have a neighbour or a friend tend to your crop!

Temperature and humidity

The ideal temperature for growing your microgreens is between 18-24°C, with relative humidity under 80%.

An indoor growing environment is much easier to regulate, in terms of temperature, and prevents exposure to extreme cold which can inhibit germination and stall the growth rate of your crops.

How exactly is Homefarm superior for growing microgreens?

While you can successfully grow microgreens by following the method in this article, if you are serious about growing premium quality produce on a consistent basis for yourself, your family or business, then investing in a Homefarm system should be considered.

There are several ways in which the Homefarm systems enable successful and sustainable growth of microgreens:

  • Fully automated watering and lighting cycles
  • Soil-based hydroponics with water-retaining grow media
  • Minimal attention required and all systems work with a mobile app
  • Organic, pest-free, pesticide-free crops throughout the year
  • Enjoy the first harvest within just 12 days
  • No single-use plastics involved

All Homefarm systems automatically work around loadshedding (rolling power cuts) which makes it even easier to grow crops to a successful harvest.

Homefarm Nano

With four grow trays and a sleek structure, the Homefarm Nano is ideal for smaller kitchens and bachelor pads. It offers quick and easy access to your microgreens so you can go from farm to fork in minutes.

Homefarm Appliance

This system can be built into your kitchen cabinetry or it can be displayed on your countertop. The perspex doors give the system a chic appearance and create a frame for your living art inside: your food crops.

The standard Homefarm Appliance comes with eight grow trays so you can grow a wider variety and enjoy consistent access to your favourite microgreens without any disruptions to your supply.

Homefarm Commercial

The Homefarm Small Commercial System is ideal for startups and large families using up to 5kg of microgreens per month. It takes 1m2 of floor space and can connect to your water mains.

The Homefarm Large Commercial System produces up to 15kg of microgreens monthly and is better suited to larger establishments like busy cafeterias, restaurants and remotely located hotels and game lodges that have a tough time accessing a consistent supply of superior quality microgreens.

Homefarm’s range of microgreens

Microgreens are highly nutritious and flavourful; they contain antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. You can harvest microgreens 7-14 days after germination, when both cotyledon leaves completely develop. 

Homefarm’s standard catalogue of microgreens includes:

  • Broccoli
  • Daikon radish
  • Green mustard
  • Mixed leaf micros (assorted microgreens for richer flavour and nutritional value)
  • Mizuna
  • Nasturtium
  • Pak Choi
  • Peas
  • Purple kohlrabi
  • Red amaranth
  • Red kale
  • Red mizuna
  • Red swiss chard
  • Rocket
  • Sprouting onion
  • Sunflower
  • Wheatgrass

Apart from the wide range of microgreens that can be grown in a Homefarm system, when harvested their aroma and taste is noticeably better than mass-produced microgreens often sold at supermarkets (at an exorbitant price per kg in comparison).

Homefarm isn’t merely enabling the growth of microgreens, but going beyond the basics to enable the growth of premium quality microgreens that pack a punch in terms of nutritional value and flavour.

The proof is in the harvest

Growing microgreens at home can be an extremely rewarding process. It can provide you with highly nutritious, delicious produce for you and your family all year round. 

It always brings us joy to hear how effective our Homefarm systems are for our customers. Here are some testimonials from happy members of the Homefarm client community:

‘’Homefarm is an aesthetically pleasing addition to our kitchen and has brought a fun element into our home. Once our crops start germinating and bursts of green emerge from the grow trays, I know that our crops will be a healthy, organic and much-loved addition to every meal.’’
— Clare
‘’As a young parent, it was difficult for me to get my young kids to eat green foods, especially lettuce and spinach. But with our Homefarm, they pick these greens themselves and decorate their plates. So cool!’’

— Petra


Botha, 2020. Microgreens: a tiny crop with big returns. Farmer’s weekly. Article online. 25 March. Available at: https://www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-business/agribusinesses/microgreens-a-tiny-crop-with-big-returns/ [Last accessed 10 July 2023].

Living Seeds. 2023. Growing microgreens. Web page online. Available at: https://livingseeds.co.za/growing-microgreens.html#:~:text=Thoroughly%20moisten%20the%20soil%20and,trays%20for%20a%20continued%20harvest. [Last accessed 10 July 2023].

Singh, N. 2019. Chefs switch to mini dynamos. Mail&Guardian. Article online. Available at: https://mg.co.za/article/2019-02-01-00-chefs-switch-to-mini-dynamos/#:~:text=With%20a%20growing%20market%20among,than%20a%20passing%20foodie%20trend. [Last accessed 10 July 2023].

Straits Research. (2023). South Africa Microgreens Market. Available at: https://straitsresearch.com/report/microgreens-market/south-africa#:~:text=The%20South%20Africa%20microgreens%20market,period%20(2022%2D2031). (Date Accessed: 30 June 2023). 

South African Smallholder. Growing Microgreens For Profit. (2023). Available at https://sasmallholder.co.za/2023/05/19/growing-microgreens-for-profit/. [Last accessed: 28 June 2023].

Sprout People. Tatsoi Micro-Greens. Available at: https://sproutpeople.org/tatsoi-micro-greens/. [Last accessed: 30 June 2023].

TRENDING MICROGREENS GROW YOUR OWN MICROGREENS – HERE’S HOW: Available at: https://www.lifeisagarden.co.za/trending-microgreens/. (Date Accessed: 29 June 2023). 

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