How To Harvest Microgreens (from start to finish)

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Learning how to harvest microgreens is the most rewarding part of growing them. Not only are they incredibly rich in nutrients and delicious, but their small size makes them easy to grow in a relatively short amount of time.

The simplest way to harvest microgreens is with scissors, micro-pruners, or a sharp knife. Hold a section of the greens you’re harvesting in one hand and cut about one inch above the soil line with the other. Consider using a cutting machine to save you lots of time for larger trays, as in commercial-scale growing.

gardener holding two clear plastic cups of green microgreens in hands

In this article, we’ll explore the many other ways to harvest your homegrown microgreens to retain their flavor and taste while avoiding damaging these delicate plants. I’ll also walk you through everything you need to know about these unique greens after harvesting, like washing, sanitizing, and storing these tiny greens correctly so you can enjoy them at their peak flavor and nutrition.

Humble Highlights

  • Discover when to harvest your microgreens AND the 5 best tools to pick them with so you can ensure you’re reaping your greens at the peak of their flavor and freshness.
  • Save valuable time by learning how to properly clean and sanitize your micro tools so you can wash, store, and extend the life of your harvested greens.
  • Learn these 5 disadvantages of letting your microgreens grow too long AND why it may be better to wait for them to regrow so you can focus on healthy, abundant yields throughout the year.


When Should You Harvest Microgreens

Microgreens are simply the baby version of their mature counterparts you’d typically plant in the backyard garden. Because most micros are ready for harvest in just a few short weeks, they only take a fraction of the time to grow before they are ready for harvesting. Microgreens and herbs are usually ripe for harvesting two to four weeks after planting. However, depending on your growing variety, some take a bit longer to reach maturity.

which microgreens regrow after cutting

The best way to tell if your microgreens are ready for harvest is by looking at their size and determining which leaves have sprouted on these tiny plants. Microgreens can usually be harvested when about 2-4 inches tall and have developed their first set of seed leaves, called cotyledons. You can also allow your greens to grow for a few extra days and harvest them just after sprouting their second set of leaves, known as true leaves. 1

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Humble Tip:

Although there isn’t an exact science as to when to harvest your micros, you may notice a change in color and flavor depending on the cultivated variety by waiting a few extra days and allowing the true leaves to develop. To determine your preference, consider growing the same crop of greens several times and harvesting them at different intervals.

5 Ways To Harvest Microgreens

You can use several methods to harvest microgreens, including:

  • Scissors
  • A Sharp Knife
  • Barbers Razor
  • Electric Knife
  • Mini Electric Hedge And Shrub Trimmer
how to harvest microgreens at home

Let’s look at each to help you determine which harvesting technique is proper for you. 


For small-scale growers, a pair of scissors is all that’s needed to harvest your microgreens. Scissors are cost-effective, allowing you to cut the greens just above the soil.

The best way to use scissors when harvesting microgreens, or any harvesting device, is to ensure they are sharp. Because microgreens are young, they are also delicate, and without a sharp instrument, these plants are easily damaged by accidental pulling or tearing. To protect your young plants, gently hold a clump of greens in one hand while you snip off the stem one inch above the soil line with scissors.

Although using scissors to harvest small sections of your crop ensures the least waste, it takes time. For commercial growers, scissors won’t be practical if you grow microgreens at scale. Therefore, discussed below are some better options for larger-scale operations. 

Humble Tip:

Micro pruners are excellent tools for novice and seasoned microgreen gardeners. Like scissors, these exceptionally sharp trimmers cut more precisely in tighter areas than the broad-motion scissors provide. Fortunately, there are wide varieties of micro pruners available today that are inexpensive, ergonomically correct, and unlike scissors, remain sharp over time even with continual use.

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A Sharp Knife

Whether you use a knife, micro pruner, or scissors depends entirely on your preference. You can use a sharp knife to harvest your microgreens in a similar way to using scissors. Use the same method of holding the section of greens you are harvesting with one hand while slicing through the exposed stems with the knife in the other.

Remember, if you choose to harvest your crop with a knife, you must ensure the cutting edge is and remains sharp. Also, be aware of the increased risk of injury, exhibit caution, and use suitable protective gear. 2

Barbers Razor

Another helpful tool in harvesting microgreen crops is a barbers razor, also known as a straight razor. A barber’s razor is a step up from a knife due to its razor-sharp edge and is the same kind you’d likely see old-time barber shops use to service and shave their male patrons.

how to store microgreens

Harvesting your plants with a barber’s razor in the same way you use a knife or scissors would be best. Although it may take some practice initially, once you become accustomed to the cut, you should find it much easier and quicker. Still, take proper safety precautions throughout the harvesting process.

Using the tools mentioned thus far is best to gain experience and confidence when starting with microgreens. Next, let’s talk about electric tools that will speed up harvesting and are perfect for more extensive operations.

Electric Knife

Electric knives are low-cost and commonly used in the home for cutting loaves of bread or joints of meat. Their sawing edge will easily slice through delicate microgreens in a single pass.

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The best way to use an electric knife for microgreen harvesting is to use the top of the growing tray to guide the blade. Provided your soil level is lower than the top of the tray, this technique will give you a clean cut just above the soil line.

For safety, secure the microgreen tray or container before cutting so you only need one hand to guide your electric knife over the harvested greens. Also, move from side to side. Don’t cut towards you, and keep your other hand away from the cutting blade.

microgreen harvesting tools

Mini Electric Hedge And Shrub Trimmer

Mini hedge trimmers are more expensive than electric knives but much safer. Using a hedge trimmer for harvesting microgreen crops may sound a little clumsy, but you will be surprised at how good they are.

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Most trimmers have interchangeable heads, such as fork tips or longer traditional saw-like edges. Mini hedge trimmers are a perfect size, making it easy to harvest large microgreen crops, especially wheatgrass, in record time. Again, when cutting, be careful your plants are not pulled, tugged, or torn to avoid unnecessary damage. You’re looking for a clean cut with a clean break from the stems.

To give you a better overview of using these tools, I found this excellent video which discusses the complete microgreen harvesting process.

Humble Tip:

Like any fruit or vegetable picked in the backyard, once you harvest your microgreens, they will only store well for so long, even under the best conditions. Therefore, it’s wise only to reap the greens you need now and leave the rest for when they are required. Just ensure you continue to hydrate and illuminate your micros left in the tray so they continue to grow and not wilt or die prematurely.

Cleaning Up After Harvesting

Cleaning up a microgreen crop is another essential part of the harvesting process. You’ll need to remove any remaining seeds, seed shells, and other debris from the harvested clippings before consuming or bagging them appropriately for storage.

how to harvest and store microgreens

It’s also wise to give your greens a thorough rinse. The washing process will help remove most of the seed shells and other debris, which I will cover next. However, some microgreens, such as sunflowers, can retain their seed hulls atop the top of the plant. 

Therefore, the best way to remove this type of unneeded debris is to roughly run your hand over the top canopy of your microgreens to dislodge these hulls before harvesting them. Once complete, harvest your crop and prep for washing. 3

How To Wash Microgreens

Now that you’ve harvested your microgreens and cleaned away the debris, it’s time to prepare them. Washing your greens is an essential step before consuming and storing them. You’ll also want to ensure all cleaning tools and containers are properly sanitized to prevent contamination from bacteria. For this, combine one teaspoon of 3% food-grade hydrogen peroxide mixed with 2 cups of water in a spray bottle and gently mist over your trays and tools.  

how to grow and harvest microgreens

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If you have a small number of cuttings after harvesting, you can place them in a colander and rinse them under running water. You may also fill a bowl and lower the colander to submerge the microgreens fully while swirling them around with your hands. After 5-10 minutes, lift the colander from the water and allow your greens to drain and air dry. 4

If you have lots of any microgreens to wash, use a large container (100-200 liters). Fill the container with water and leave your microgreens to soak for 10-15 minutes. During this soaking stage, you may notice any remaining seed shells and debris floating at the surface, where you can use your hand or a sieve to remove them quickly. Then, use a colander to scoop the microgreen leaves from your container and leave them to dry. 

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Drying your microgreens is a critical part of the preparation, as soggy microgreens may attract mold and other harmful diseases. Additionally, carefully drying your microgreens can increase their shelf life from several days to a week or more. 

After washing, the best way to dry your microgreens is to gently spread them thinly over a table so air can circulate around them. Consider laying some paper towels underneath your greens to dry from beneath. You can let your plants air dry naturally or use a cool fan on a low setting to improve drying time.

how to harvest microgreens indoors

If you have a significant number of micros to dry, use a netted table so that air can circulate from above and below. Toss the microgreens by hand to ensure even drying. Once dry, you must package your microgreens for storage before they begin to dry out.

Humble Tip:

While some growers opt to wash their greens post-harvest, be aware that some research demonstrates that washing is ineffectual and may increase the potential of contamination due to rough harvesting methods that damage the plant and subsequently promote pathogen proliferation. Remember, be very careful when harvesting your greens. Whatever tool you use should be sharp to avoid cutting, pulling, or tearing the plant stems, as safety should always be your priority.

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How To Store Microgreens

Storing microgreens is an essential step in preserving their freshness and flavor. It’s important to keep them at the right temperature and humidity level and away from light so they stay as crisp and flavorful as possible. To ensure your microgreens last longer, follow these steps:

how to store microgreens after harvest

Make sure to remove excess water. To remove this surplus water, gently pat the greens dry with a paper towel or cheesecloth. This action will help reduce moisture that could cause molding or discoloration.

Store them in an airtight container. Good storage options include a sealable polythene bag or a mason jar lined with a damp cloth or paper towels on the bottom. Consider labeling the containers with the harvest date and the type of microgreen it contains. Ensure there’s not too much moisture in the container, which can cause unnecessary challenges such as increased humidity and rot. 5

Place the sealed containers in a refrigerated unit. Microgreens can stay good in a cool environment, like a refrigerator, for up to two weeks before being consumed, allowing plenty of time to enjoy freshly harvested microgreens. 

Humble Tip:

If you are selling your microgreens commercially, there are a few extra steps you’ll need to take, including bagging and weighing them to a specific dry weight. You may also need to provide additional label information, depending on your local state laws.

What Happens If You Let Microgreens Keep Growing

Microgreens are baby versions of their full-grown counterparts in the backyard garden and what your greens would become if you allow them to grow beyond the microgreen stage. Although there are several benefits to harvesting microgreens before they become adult plants, such as their vastly increased nutrient content, here is a list of what to expect if you let your microgreens keep growing.

how long to harvest microgreens

  • Reduced nutrient density. As microgreens mature, their nutrient content decreases slightly due to increased cellular respiration.
  • Declining taste. Microgreens become increasingly bitter as they age, so those who want milder flavors may prefer harvesting them earlier.
  • Diminished color. Aged microgreens tend to lose their vibrant colors over time.
  • Different textures. Older leaves become tougher and chewier compared to younger ones that are tender and succulent.
  • Shrinking space. Mature plants require more room than young ones.

To maximize flavor and nutrition while considering space limitations, most gardeners recommend harvesting microgreens between 1-2 weeks after germination when the cotyledon leaves fully develop and before the next set of leaves, called true leaves, start appearing. 6

Although allowing some varieties to reach maturity can produce interesting results, it’s important to remember that each plant grows uniquely differently depending on its type. It’s best to ensure you research thoroughly beforehand. 7

From here, let’s explore whether microgreens grow back after cutting and how this affects the overall harvest process.

Do Microgreens Grow Back After Cutting

Although some microgreens, like wheatgrass, are known for regrowth, many greens don’t grow back as their leaves, which spawn energy production via photosynthesis, are harvested. However, you may increase your chances of regrowth if you leave at least 1 inch or more of the stem along with the plants’ first leaves (cotyledons).

how to know when microgreens are ready to harvest

The table below shows where to cut microgreens at each stage and their regrowth potential.

PlantGrowth CycleHow To Cut
Sprouted Seeds (1-3 days old)Not Resilient: Cannot be harvested multiple times Snip off seed leaves just above the growing media
Baby Greens (4-7 days old)Somewhat Resilient: Can regrow if done correctlyCut stems 1/2 inch from the soil with scissors or a knife
Microgreens (8-14 days old)Highly Resilient: Can be harvested multiple timesTrim stems at the base, leaving a small stubble about 1 inch long for new growth

Although microgreens can regrow, most people don’t waste their time as each successive crop typically exhibits spotty growth, at best, and contains fewer nutrients and less taste. 

Allowing microgreens to resprout often takes much longer, and they rarely grow as tall as when using fresh seeds. Setting up a new tray with a brand-new crop makes better use of your time and effort. 

Humble Tip:

One major drawback of allowing microgreens to regrow from previous crops is the risk of food bacteria forming. It’s essential to exercise good hygiene when growing microgreens to avoid the issue of E.coli, salmonella, listeria, and other harmful bacteria that cause food poisoning.

Where thorough cooking usually removes these dangerous bacteria, microgreens are best eaten raw to benefit from their many nutrients. So, starting fresh with clean trays, seeds, and growing media is best after each harvest.


I’ve found that growing microgreens is incredibly rewarding. With a suitable growing medium and fertilizer, your tiny plants can be harvested in just a few weeks. The key is to water them regularly while monitoring their progress daily. And the best part is when they reach the desired size, it’s time to harvest and enjoy!

Harvesting microgreens shouldn’t be complicated. Most greens can be picked when they are 2 to 4 inches tall and have developed their first cotyledon leaves. Harvest your fresh micro crops with sharp scissors, micro-pruners, or razors for smaller operations to prevent unnecessary damage to your delicate plants. 

Proper hygiene practices should also be followed throughout the entire harvesting process. Removing any debris from your plants, like seed hulls, is essential. Likewise, thoroughly washing your plants is vital, as is sanitizing your tools, container trays, and work area to avoid contamination in successive plantings. Lastly, to better preserve your micros and help retain flavor, remove excess water and store them in a cool, dark place, like your refrigerator, at a consistent temperature. 

Growing microgreens is a rewarding practice offering you and your family tasty and nutritious greens year-round. Anyone can grow beautiful microgreens from seed with patience and effort.

How do you harvest and store your homegrown greens for maximum flavor? Let us know by dropping a comment below and spill! 


  1. Penn State University, Extension – Growing Microgreens
  2. Clemson University, Cooperative Extension – Growing Microgreens
  3. University Of Nevada, Reno Extension – Microgreens And Produce Safety
  4. – Characterization Of Microgreen Growing Operations And Associated Food Safety Practices
  5. Iowa State University, Extension And Outreach – How To Grow Your Own Microgreens
  6. IJMRASC – A Short Literature On Microgreens: Understanding Their Nature And Current Research
  7. Greenville Library – Microgreens At Home: A Step-By-Step Guide

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