Arugula microgreens are becoming very popular because of their high nutrient content, especially vitamins. They have a spicy-bitter taste that works well with a variety of dishes.
You can choose to eat them without cooking and add them to salads and sandwiches. Eat them with other lettuces too and enjoy all their goodness.
Arugula microgreens grow so fast, within ten days. Whether you want them for your home-use or at a large scale, you can grow them and suit your needs in many different ways.
This article explains how to grow arugula microgreens in different ways, disease, pest control, and answers some of the frequently asked questions.
Equipment Needed to Grow Arugula Microgreens
The materials you need would be determined by the scale of the product you are working on.
For a small-scale production for home use, you’ll need:
- A container (you can get plant growing trays, preferably 10×20. This depends on your budget). Ensure that the container has a drainage hole at the bottom to allow excess water to drain out.
- Potting soil – Purchase ready-made potting soil from the feed store, or you can consider making your own organic potting soil by mixing coconut coir with organic soil in a 50:50 ratio. You can choose to use other media to grow your microgreens. For example, growing paper, wood shavings, or grow mat.
- Arugula seeds – get your seeds from a recommended distributor so that you can get disease-free quality seeds.
- Spray bottle – It will be useful in watering the soil after spreading your seeds. After the plants have germinated, you’ll need a watering can to water the sprouts.
- Light – Accessibility to direct sunlight is important. If you can not access sunlight due to weather limitations, consider using a grow light. A 4’T5 CFL Grow light is suitable.
- pH test strips – They’ll be used to test the pH of the soil. Keep lemon juice close in case you need to adjust the pH.
How to Grow Arugula Microgreens in Soil?
Microgreens are grown in soil perform well when grown in the correct soil conditions. Before you begin planting, check to ensure that your soil is well moisturized at the correct pH. The ideal pH for the soil and water is 6-it can be slightly lower or slightly higher.
Check the water pH too to ensure that it’s within the correct range. Arugula seeds do not require pre-soaking or rinsing in water before planting.
Here’s a step-by-step guide, from sowing to harvest:
Step 1: Fill the Container with Soil
The container should have a hole at the bottom to allow for drainage. A container can be a plastic deli tub; only make sure it has a hole on the lower side for drainage. Fill it with the organic soil mixture and level it at the top carefully so that you do not compact it.
Using commercial potting soil is a good idea, but you can make your organic potting soil by mixing peat moss, sand, perlite, and compost in the part ratio of 3:1:1:1, respectively.
Step 2: Sprinkle the Arugula Seeds on the Flat Soil Surface
Use an herb shaker or your fingers to distribute the arugula seeds evenly on the soil. The amount of the seeds should not worry you, and you only have to make sure you spread the arugula seeds evenly. Overcrowding the seeds can lead to poor growth and the prevalence of diseases.
Step 3: Use the Spray Bottle to Spray Water on the Seeds Gently
The soil should be moist; therefore, spray the clean water on the surface, just enough to make the soil moist. The arugula seeds do not do well in excess water, so be careful not to flood the soil with water initially.
Step 4: Cover the Container
The covering should be something dark, like an aluminum foil or another container that can cover completely. The purpose of the covering is to block out light and allow the seeds to germinate. A good idea would be to use a damp paper towel as a cover to keep your seeds and the soil moist.
Step 5: Monitor the Germination Process
Check the container every day to see whether the seeds are germinating. Feel the soil to ensure that it’s moist enough. Use a spray bottle to add more incase the soil dries up.
Covering the container completely can create a good breeding ground for bacteria and encourage molds to grow. If you notice any molds growing on the soil, carefully scrape it off and keep the container open to reduce the humidity.
Step 6: Place The Container Near A Window Where There’s Sunlight.
When the seeds start sprouting, obliterate the covering and place the container on a sunny window surface. If you can not get enough sunlight (4-8hours) for your arugula, consider using grow lights. A good grow light should comfortably provide light for your microgreens even in cold seasons.
Step 7: Water the Arugula Daily
Once you place the microgreens in the sun, use a watering can to abundantly water them. The amount of water you add is dependent on the condition of the soil. If it’s still wet and moist, you don’t need to add more water.
Step 8: Harvest the Microgreens After 7-14 Days
Harvest the arugula when it is at the height of about 1-3 inches. Cut them at 0.5 inches above the soil and leave the stem behind. After the harvest, you can start the process and plant new arugula microgreens.
How to Grow Arugula Microgreens on a Grow Mat?
A hydroponic grow mat is designed to hold moisture and provide enough nutrients to the microgreens. It’s made from organic and biodegradable substrates for nutrients. It’s made to a standard size of 10 inches by 20 inches to fit in a grow tray.
Step 1: Soak the Grow Mat
Put the hydroponic grow mat in a container with water to soak it until it’s completely soaked and saturated. Lift it from the water and gently place it on the grow tray.
Step 2: Sow the Seeds
Spread the seeds to cover the grow mat evenly and spray water on them using a spray bottle.
Step 3: Cover the Grow Tray
You can use another grow tray or aluminum foil to cover the grow tray and seeds. This allows the seeds to germinate in the absence of light. Uncover the seeds only once per day to check the germination process.
Step 4: Place Them in the Light
On the day you notice that the seeds have germinated, put them on a windowsill where they can access direct sunlight or use grow lights to provide enough light to the microgreens.
Step 5: Harvest
In the days that follow, keep checking for moisture levels and add water when necessary. Harvest when they get to your preferred height using a very sharp knife or scissors.
How to Grow Arugula Microgreens in Wood Shavings?
Wood shavings are sustainable but can not be reused to grow micro-greens. To get good wood shavings specially made for growing microgreens, you can purchase them from a feed store. If you’d like to make yours, make sure that they are finely and evenly sized.
Here’s how to use wood shavings to grow arugula microgreens:
Step 1: Soak the Wood Shavings in Water for Some Time
It ensures that the wood shavings absorb enough water. They are good at retaining water, so they’ll not need to be watered as often as you’d do with soil.
Step 2: Put the Pre-Soaked Wood Shavings in The Container Until It Is Full
Ensure that you fill the container with the wood shavings and level it at the top so that the microgreens can grow evenly. Wood shavings hold water longer than soil.
Step 3: Sow the Arugula Seeds
Sprinkle them evenly on the wood shavings. Since they’ll be harvested after forming their first true leaves, you can sow them thickly and maximize the space you have. However, overcrowding the seeds can make them prone to diseases and mold growth; therefore, make sure that you don’t over-do the spreading.
Step 4: Cover the Seeds with A Light Dusting of the Wood Shavings, And Use Aluminum Foil To Cover The Container
Keep observing and checking the moisture levels of the wood shavings. If they feel dry, use a spray bottle to water them until they attain an appropriate moisture level.
Step 5: Place the Container on A Sunny Windowsill
Once the seeds begin to germinate, remove the aluminum covering, and expose them to light. It allows the seedlings to develop properly as they start to make their food with the help of the sunlight. Sunlight is a good option depending on the present climatic conditions. If there’s not enough sunlight, you can comfortably use the grow lights.
Step 6: Harvest
The arugula microgreens can be harvested when they develop their first true leaves or reach a height of about 1-3 inches. Use scissors to cut out the microgreens and refill your container for a fresh set of microgreens.
How to Grow Arugula Microgreens on Growing Paper?
Using a growing paper is another excellent way to grow your arugula microgreens. The growing paper is designed to hold enough moisture for growing the microgreens. Some of the growing papers have small ridges to help hold the seeds, while others are plain and flat. You can choose one that you prefer for your little gardening exercise.
Here’s a step-by-step guide to growing arugula microgreens on a growing paper:
Step 1: Place The Growing Paper Into The Nursery Tray
Most growing papers are in the nursery tray’s standard size, so the paper should fit perfectly. Ensure that it lies evenly at the bottom of the tray.
Step 2: Soak The Growing Paper In Water
Allow the paper to soak in water for some hours and drain the excess water. The paper’s design allows it to remain moist for a long time, but you can add water to it anytime it feels dry.
Step 3: Sprinkle The Arugula Seeds On The Paper
Evenly spread the seeds on the paper. Arugula seeds are not pre-soaked, so just use your fingers or a herb shaker to spread them. You don’t need to place any form of coverage on the container.
Step 4: Keep The Growing Paper Moist
Check often for the growing paper’s moisture levels and add water when the moisture is not enough.
Step 5: Lighting
Once they begin to sprout, expose the microgreens to enough sunlight or growing light. They should be in the light for at least 4-8 hours.
Step 6: Harvest You can use scissors to cut them out or simply scrape them off the paper as it would make a mess like in soil and wood shavings.
How Can You Speed Up Growth?
Typically, the microgreens are ready in about ten days, but you can do something to speed up the growth process.
To ensure that you get your nutritious arugula microgreens within a short time, do the following:
- Use a potting soil mix that is fine and free of debris.
- Prepare the soil surface to be flat without compacting the soil mix.
- Keep the soil adequately moistened throughout the growth period.
- Be careful not to overstuff the soil surface with too many seeds. Use a herb shaker to distribute the seeds evenly.
- Expose the seedlings to enough light to facilitate fast growth.
What are the Benefits of Eating Arugula Microgreens?
Arugula is packed with mega nutrients that boost health and restore wellness in the body.
A cup serving of Amarula contains the following nutrients:
- 0.13 grams of fat
- 0.52 grams of protein
- 27.7% RDA of vitamin K
- 3.2% RDA of Calcium
- 2.5% RDA of Vitamin C
- Vitamin A
Let’s look at the benefits of eating Arugula Microgreens.
It Reduces the Risk of Cancer
Arugula is a cruciferous vegetable, a great source of glucosinolates that are responsible for fighting cancer by inhibiting the growth and progression of cancer cells. Studies on the arugula microgreens have shown their effectiveness in preventing colorectal, breast, and prostate cancers.
It Prevents the Occurrence of Osteoporosis
The major nutrients in arugula are calcium and Vitamin K. Calcium is important for the development of strong bones. Vitamin K takes part in bone metabolism and improves the body’s ability to absorb calcium.
It Helps Prevent Diabetes
Arugula is a good fiber source, which helps reduce insulin resistance and regulate glucose in the blood. The high fiber also takes longer to digest, so you feel full longer and therefore eat less often.
It Improves Heart Health
As a cruciferous vegetable, Arugula has high concentrations of plant compounds like polyphenols and organosulfur compounds that have heart-protecting properties. The blood vessels are strengthened as well as the heart.
It Boosts the Immune System
Arugula is rich in vitamin C that is responsible for repairing body tissues, absorption of iron, and improving the immune system.
What Pests/Diseases Can Damage Microgreens and How to Stop Them?
Pests and diseases can destroy your microgreens and make all your efforts go to waste.
Most of the common diseases are caused by bacteria and fungi due to:
- Poor lighting.
- Poor ventilation and limited air circulation.
- Constant wetness and stagnant water conditions.
The most common diseases that attack microgreens are:
- Pythium root rot – Its commonly caused by the “Globisporangium” and “Phytopythium” species. These thrive in damp and high temperatures above 86° F.
Solution: Ensure that you do not use the same growing medium and change it to get rid of the pathogens. Do not overcrowd the seedlings and ensure proper air circulation to the plants.
- Phytophthora – This is stem rot that is caused by the phytopythium species. It thrives when you sow too many seeds and Poor air circulation.
Solution: Ensure that a proper drainage system is set up. For example, for arugula, ensure that the container has a hole at the bottom. Make sure that the seedlings are not too crowded and sow clean and certified seeds.
- Mold – Molds grow in a spider-web pattern anywhere on the flat or container. It feels slimy and has a musty smell. Molds thrive when there is no proper air circulation; that’s why when you cover the container after spreading your seeds, always check to ensure that no molds grow.
Solution: Keep the container very well aerated and sow the seeds evenly distributed to avoid crowding. Avoid over-watering and ensure that there’s proper lighting for the seedling. Practice humidity control and keep the moisture at low levels.
- Damping-off – It gives no warning as the plants can appear very healthy tomorrow and fall off tomorrow. It’s caused by a fungus that thrives in damp conditions where temperatures exceed 68°F. It can also happen when a lot of nitrogen-based fertilizer is added to the seedlings.
Solution: Avoid adding too much water as wet conditions are ideal for damping off. If you choose to add fertilizer, ensure that you add in little amounts. If you notice that your seedlings are overcrowded, pull out some seedlings to allow for spacing. Avoid reusing containers and flats without cleaning them with soap. Also, avoid watering the seedlings by spraying using a spray bottle.
- Botrytis – It’s a fungus that becomes dominant in wet weather. A grey mold grows on the leaves, and you can see it.
Solution: Remove the affected plants, water the seedlings during the day, and ensure that they are well aerated.
- Yellow Foliage – Mainly caused by poor lighting, nutrient deficiency, and overcrowding of the seedlings. It appears as a yellow pigment on the plants.
Solution: Expose your seedlings to sunlight or grow light as soon as they sprout. Add little fertilizer if you notice the yellowing.
- Sclerotinia – It’s a fungus that causes a white mold on the surface of the growth medium. If ignored, it climbs on the plants and destroys them.
Solution: Ensure that there’s proper air circulation and the humidity levels are low. Clean the seeds before using them.
When buying seeds, make sure that you buy from a reputable distributor so that you buy seeds that are free from diseases. To ensure that you are sowing seeds that are disease-free, always sanitize and sterilize them before sowing them.
Also, check for the quality of the seeds to ensure that you get the best. The diseases that are caused by fungi can be quickly cleared by spraying fungicides to the seedlings.
These are the common pests found in microgreens:
- Aphids – They feed on the leaves and leave a sticky substance on the undersides of the leaves, which in turn attracts ants. You can identify them by their color as they can be greenish, peach, red, or black.
Solution: Wash them off using insecticidal soap. You can also bring in natural predators such as wasps and lady beetles to eat the aphids.
- Slugs – They make holes or eat the whole leaf, leaving a slimy trail. They are prevalent in damp conditions and cause more damage at night.
Solution: Remove them by hand-picking or set cornmeal traps for them. They’re attracted by the cornmeal scent and die after eating it. Keep your little microgreens’ garden well aerated to avoid damping.
- Deer – They are also known as lepidopterous larvae and eat the whole plant.
Solution: Use a deer repellent.
- Flea Beetles – They feed on the plant foliage.
Solution: Practice crop rotation.
Other than these pests and diseases, there are other problems that you can encounter in your practice to grow microgreens.
- The microgreens collapse – The falling over can be as a result of lack of enough water, too many seeds sowed in one place, inconsistent and low lighting, and watering the seedlings using high-pressure hose pipes.
- Irregular growth – This is where you notice that some of the seedlings are taller than the others. The reason is, they are looking for adequate light. Always ensure that there is enough light reaching all your seedlings.
- Slow growth – While most seeds take about 2-4 days on average to germinate, some may take longer. This could mean that there’s not enough moisture to facilitate fast germination. Using a water bottle, spray water across the soil in your nursery tray.
Arugula Microgreens Vs. Arugula Sprouts (Which is Better?)
Microgreens are better than sprouts. This is because microgreens grow for a longer time (2-4 weeks) this having an opportunity to absorb enough nutrients and make more while sprouts are harvested immediately after germination.
How Much Light Do Arugula Microgreens Need?
Arugula needs an average of 4-8 hours of direct sunlight a day. If the weather conditions prevent you from getting direct sunlight for the recommended number of hours, you can use grow lights to light the arugula.
What Temperature Do Arugula Microgreens Need?
Arugula microgreens do well in soil temperatures ranging from 70°F to 75°F. Higher or lower temperatures can lead to a good breeding ground for pathogens that cause diseases.
How Long Do Arugula Microgreens Take to Grow?
The average growth time is about ten days. Some can grow faster or take longer, up to 14 days.
Do Arugula Microgreens Regrow After Harvest?
It depends on your method of harvest. If you pull out the whole stem, the arugula will not regrow. If grazing or cutting is done, the arugula continues to grow.
How Should You Harvest Arugula Microgreens?
Use scissors to cut the stems about 0.5 inches above the soil so that you don’t cut them together with the dirt.
How Should You Store Arugula Microgreens?
After harvesting, store your arugula in cold and mist conditions, about 32°F to 40°F (0°C – 5°C) and at 95% r/humidity. Wrap them securely in a paper towel and put them in a plastic bag (perforated).
Why Are My Arugula Microgreens Falling Over?
You are growing your microgreens in unfavorable conditions. Check the temperature, humidity, nutrient content, and lighting to ensure that they are of the required levels depending on the microgreens you are growing. Also, ensure that there’s plenty of air circulating freely in your growing space.
Arugula Microgreens Flavor + How to use them?
Arugula has a nutty flavor with a distant sweetness that turns peppery and earthy. You can eat arugula cooked or uncooked in salads and with other lettuces. It does well in sandwiches, too, because of its spicy-bitter taste.
How Do You Prevent Damping
Damping occurs when there are excess moisture and wetness, as well as high humidity. Proper air circulation clears the humidity and helps to dry the dampness.
To prevent damping:
- Avoid over-watering the seedlings – most growing media like soil and wood shavings hold the water for a long time, therefore adding little to no water so that you don’t maintain the correct soil moisture level.
- Don’t over-fertilize – Add little fertilizer to seedlings to boost nutrients availability. If you add too much fertilizer, the excess nitrogen will cause the seedlings to fall over and dry.
- Pull out excess seedlings to avoid overcrowding – When sowing the seeds, ensure that you spread them evenly. You can use your fingers or a herb shaker to distribute the seeds. If you notice overcrowding after germination, carefully pull out some of the seedlings and leave the rest well-spaced so that they can grow healthy.
- Clean containers and flats before reusing them to clear any molds that would have formed – It’s advisable to use antibacterial soap for the cleaning to ensure that any disease-causing pathogens have been completely cleared.
- Allow air to flow freely to and from your plants – Proper air circulation prevents the growth of molds and gives enough air for the seedling to make their own food.
Arugula microgreens are rich in many nutrients that play a role in maintaining general body health. It’s a good thing to consider having them as part of your diet.
More to nutritional value, arugula microgreens add spice to your food, and you get to enjoy your meal better. Although you can buy them from the vegetable market, you might prefer to grow them by yourself.
This article has outlined different ways and materials you can use to grow them and enjoy their benefits. As you follow through the growth process, you’ll be able to monitor any invasions by pests and diseases and control them effectively.