By Jennifer Poindexter
Are you looking for a way to add more nutrients to your diet while spicing up your meals? If so, it’s time to explore microgreens. One of the most popular microgreens is arugula. This easy-to-grow option has many health benefits and can be used in a variety of ways.
Arugula microgreens make a great topping for pizza or pasta dishes. Plus, they taste delicious when mixed in with other salad greens.
If you’re interested in growing this microgreen, stick around as I walk you through what you must know when learning how to grow arugula microgreens:
What Is a Microgreen?
Microgreens are becoming quite popular, but you may still be confused as to what the big deal is about these tiny plants.
The first reason so many people love microgreens is because it has been scientifically proven that these tiny plants contain up to 40% more nutrients than their full-grown equivalents.
This makes it easier to get more of the vitamins and nutrients our bodies need without having to worry about consuming more servings of specific crops.
The next reason why so many people love microgreens is because they’re easy to produce at home. A microgreen is basically a sprouted seed that is harvested when the first set of true leaves form.
It requires a small, convenient set-up and approximately one week to have these tiny greens readily available to you in your home.
Whether you’re trying to be more health-conscious or you live in smaller quarters but would like to produce some fresh produce, microgreens could be the solution.
What Benefits Do Arugula Microgreens Offer?
Arugula is a spicy little plant that makes a wonderful addition to many recipes. However, it’s also packed full of different nutrients.
When consuming this plant, you’re eating a vegetable that’s high in calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin B, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C.
It’s also thought to help protect and reverse damage that your cells may have experienced. Plus, the bitter taste of arugula is thought to be from a compound within the plant that may also serve as a protector against cancer.
If you would like to know what your food does for you (aside from tasting delicious when consumed) these are a few benefits you may receive should you eat arugula microgreens.
How to Grow Arugula Microgreens
Now that we’ve discussed what microgreens are and why you might like to consume arugula microgreens, it’s time to talk about how you can grow them yourself.
Here are the steps to growing arugula microgreens right in your kitchen:
1. Soak the Arugula Seeds
When growing microgreens, it all starts with the seeds. Purchase your arugula seeds and soak them in lukewarm water for a minimum of six hours.
I like to soak mine overnight as it’s something easy to do right before bed, and you wake up to seeds that are ready to go.
When soaking the seeds, place them in a bowl or cup and put enough water over them that they’re covered.
Some seeds may float during this process and that’s okay. Once your seeds have soaked, you’re ready to move on with the process.
2. Prepare the Mats
When growing microgreens, you have a few ways you may go about growing them. Some people use soil and others choose a soilless growing medium.
If you’d like to use soil, ensure it’s well-draining. Then fill a container with only a few inches of dirt, as microgreens don’t need much.
I don’t use soil when growing microgreens because there is a risk of the microgreens developing a disease which could live within the soil.
Instead, I go with hemp mats. The downside to hemp mats is that they’re a little more expensive than soil, but you don’t run the same risk for disease.
Personally, when growing something around my home I like to make it as simple as possible because it makes it easier to keep the task in my daily routine.
Should you choose to go with a soilless growing medium as well, begin with placing the mat in a tray. You could use a baking dish, plastic shoe box, or any other shallow dish you have on hand.
There are also kits you can purchase as well. Choose whatever works best for you and your situation.
Once the mat is placed in the container, pour two to three cups of lukewarm water over the mat. Press the mat into the water to ensure it’s saturated.
When your mats are ready, it’s time to add the seeds.
3. Sprinkle the Seeds and Wait
When your mat is saturated in water, it’s time to pour the seeds over it (or any other growing medium you may choose).
I don’t drain my seeds before pouring them over the mat. From there, I use my hands to gently spread the seeds out.
Then I use a dish towel to cover my seed tray. This is to block most of the light from the seeds. If you’re using a plastic seed starting tray that came with a lid, you could use this as well.
If the lid is clear, just throw a dish towel over it to block the light. Once this is done, I set my tray out of the way by placing it on top of my refrigerator. This also removes it from receiving any direct light.
Then you must wait three days for the seeds to begin germinating. Since you soaked the mats, you typically won’t need to water your microgreens throughout the growing process.
If you use a soil-based growing medium, you’ll need to spritz the arugula seeds periodically with a bottle of water to ensure the soil never fully dries out.
4. Provide Light Until Harvest
At the end of the three days, it’s time to remove the lid or dish towel from your tray. Place the microgreens in an area where they can receive indirect lighting.
This could mean placing them in front of a window or even beneath a grow light. The microgreens should be ready to harvest in seven to ten days.
Once the plants begin to form their first set of true leaves, they’re ready for your enjoyment.
5. Enjoy Your Arugula Microgreens
How do you go about harvesting arugula microgreens? The process is simple. No matter the growing medium you selected, these greens are harvested the same way.
Use a sharp pair of clean scissors and go to the base of the plants, right above the growing medium. At this point, start snipping the microgreens away from the medium.
Place the microgreens in a damp cloth and place the cloth inside an airtight container or bag. From there, store the microgreens in your refrigerator. Microgreens should be consumed within five days.
Once you’ve harvested your microgreens, you should discard your soilless growing medium. Most mats can be composted.
It’s difficult to reuse them as you’d need to sterilize the mats before growing again. Instead, they make a good addition to your compost pile.
Also, it isn’t recommended to reuse a soil growing medium for microgreens as this could lead to disease.
Now that you know how to grow arugula microgreens, it’s time to take these tips and try your hand at raising them.
Arugula microgreens have many benefits. Follow this simple process to be able to enjoy each health and culinary benefit this plant offers.