Worried about Brood XIX and XIII Cicadas Eating Your Garden? Grow Microgreens Indoors Instead

While cicadas captivate some people, they often pose a real challenge for gardeners. These insects, emerging in overwhelming numbers every few years, feed on the sap of young plants and can cause significant damage to gardens. However, there exists a resilient and nutritious alternative that circumvents this issue entirely: growing microgreens indoors. This post will explore the advantages of microgreens and provide detailed guidance on starting your own indoor garden.

Cicada Shell on Tree upclose - On The Grow

Periodical cicadas, particularly Brood XIX and Brood XIII, which are slated to emerge in 2024, have always been subjects of both fascination and concern due to their dramatic, cyclical appearances. Here’s what you need to know about these broods:

  • Brood XIX: The Great Southern Brood

    • Emergence Schedule: Known as the Great Southern Brood, this 13-year cicada last appeared in 2011 and will reemerge in 2024.
    • Geographical Spread: This brood primarily affects the southern United States, including Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and several other states.
    • Species Composition: It consists of species such as Magicicada tredecim, Magicicada tredecassini, and Magicicada tredecula.
  • Brood XIII: The Northern Illinois Brood

    • Emergence Schedule: This 17-year cicada last emerged in 2007, with its next appearance expected in 2024.
    • Geographical Spread: This brood is mostly found in northern Illinois and parts of adjacent states.
    • Species Composition: It includes Magicicada septendecim, Magicicada cassini, and Magicicada septendecula.

The significance of these broods lies in their vast numbers and the impact they have on ecosystems, providing benefits such as soil aeration and a plentiful food source for various predators. This biannual event underscores the importance of adopting eco-friendly gardening practices, such as indoor microgreen cultivation, which allows cicadas to perform their ecological roles without the conflict of damaging crops. Its a win win for both gardeners and cicadas alike!

Microgreens, harvested just after their first leaves develop, are a compact, nutrient-rich crop option, ideal for indoor environments. They can be grown quickly in small spaces, offering a continuous supply of fresh produce throughout the year. By focusing on indoor gardening, particularly during cicada emergence years, you can enjoy fresh, pesticide-free greens without affecting the natural cicada life cycle. This method aligns with broader environmental goals, including biodiversity conservation and reduced pesticide use, fostering a more harmonious interaction between home gardening and native wildlife.

What Are Microgreens?

Cabbage Microgreens on food plate with chicken, coscous and Broccoli On The Grow

Microgreens are young vegetable greens harvested just after the cotyledons (the first leaves of a seedling) have developed. They are approximately 1–3 inches tall and are used as a nutrition supplement, a visual enhancement, and a flavor and texture enhancement in dishes.

  • Nutritional Benefits: Microgreens are known for their high nutrient content. They often contain higher vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant levels than the same quantity of mature greens. Studies have shown that microgreens can contain up to 40 times higher levels of vital nutrients than their mature counterparts.

  • Varieties: There are numerous types of microgreens, including but not limited to broccoli, sunflower, arugula, basil, beet greens, cabbage, cilantro, and kale.

Why Grow Microgreens Indoors?

Microgreens growing indoors - On The Grow, LLC

Protection from Pests

Cicadas, along with other garden pests, can cause significant damage to outdoor plants. Growing plants indoors, especially in controlled environments, minimizes these risks.

Space Efficiency

Microgreens can be grown in very small spaces. They are perfect for urban dwellers or those with limited gardening space. All you need is something to grow in, a medium like our reusable grow mediums, seeds, access to water, and a sunny windowsill or a grow light.

Quick Harvest Cycle

Microgreens grow fast! Most varieties are ready for harvest in just 1 to 2 weeks after planting. This quick turnaround allows for frequent cultivation cycles, providing a steady supply of fresh greens.

Year-Round Availability

Unlike traditional gardening, which is often limited by seasons, or having access to an outdoor area like a porch, or backyard with soil, indoor microgreens can be grown year-round, right in your kitchen, ensuring you always have access to fresh produce.

How to Start Growing Microgreens

Dwarf Grey Sugar Snap Pea Microgreens upclose by On The Grow, LLC

Step 1: Choose Your Seeds

Select from a variety of seeds based on what flavors and nutrients you prefer in your diet. Some popular options for beginners include radish, broccoli, cabbage, sunflower, and pea shoots because of their robust flavor and ease of growth. Though it's good to note that sunflower microgreens can some times be a more intermediate choice.

Step 2: Set Up Your Growing Area

  • Containers: You'll need a grow tray to grow your microgreens in, and luckily we have various sizes and types available on our website to accommodate the amount of greens you'd like to grow, as well as space available to grow at.
  • Growing Medium: Use soil, coco coir or a hydroponic growing medium, such as our Reusable Microgreen Grow Mediums. Many of our Tray kits come with the Silicone Version of this medium, or you can also buy them separately.
  • Seeds: Choose the Microgreen Seed varieties that you would like to grow, and always pick a trusted seed supplier to ensure the quality of your greens.
  • Lighting: If you don’t have a well lite area in your home, consider investing in grow lights. We are big advocates of using LED lights to grow our microgreens.
  • Watering: When it comes to watering your microgreens, having the right watering tool during germination can make all the difference, like this hand pump sprayer, we've sworn by it for 5+ years now.

Step 3: Planting

Spread the seeds evenly over the surface of your growing medium, give them a good mist and then cover them to trap in the humidity. If you're unsure how much seed to use, check out our Free PDF download "Tray Specific Seeding Guide"

Step 4: Care and Maintenance

We highly advise you watch the short video below to get an understanding of the entire process for growing your own microgreens at home! For the demonstration, we are using our popular home kit the 7x14 Tray Kit. We have many more videos like this available on our YouTube Channel @onthegrow, as well as informative blogs here on our website!

Step 5: Harvesting

Once the true leaves (the second set of leaves after the cotyledons) begin to emerge, your microgreens are ready to harvest (7 to14 days). Use a sharp knife or scissors to cut them just above the medium line. Store in fridge or use right away!


Growing microgreens indoors can be a smart and effective way to circumvent the challenges posed by cicadas and other garden pests. Not only do they require minimal space and care, but they also provide a potent punch of flavor and nutrition, which can be a game changer for your cooking and health.

By shifting your focus from traditional gardening to cultivating microgreens indoors, you can enjoy fresh, pesticide-free greens without the worry of external pests. Happy growing!

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