I first tasted arugula when I found a bunch at the bottom of my weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) subscription box. I thought they were weeds. I’m not kidding. I washed them off, gave them a taste, and I’ve been smitten ever since.
When the COVID-19 quarantine hit, I was wary of buying fresh vegetables from the grocery store. I don’t like the idea of not knowing how my food is handled. The one drawback of fresh food in a grocery store is that everyone can touch it and breathe on it. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. This virus scares me and I want to do everything in my power to stay healthy.
I decided to grow my salad greens. The only seeds I had on hand was a package of arugula. Arugula is part of the Brassicaceae family of plants which includes roughly 338 genres and 3,700 species of plants. Other Brassicaceae plants you may know are broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussell sprouts 1/. Arugula has a tangy, peppery flavor and it tastes great in salads.
Only one problem. The back of the seed package specifically said growing arugula indoors was not recommended.
I decided to try an experiment. I took half the seeds in the package, planted them in pots, and placed them under my 6,500K 2200 lumen LED lights. Guess what? The arugula grew perfectly. The seeds germinated in 5 days and within 4 weeks the plants were big enough to harvest.
3 Lessons from My Arugula Experiment
1. Arugula is Best Left Unthinned
The most important lesson I learned growing arugula was not to thin the plants. I left some of the plants unthinned and also planted some into their own pots. The plants that were not thinned were healthier. You can see for yourself in the photographs below.
2. Arugula Will Grow Indoors Under 6,500K LED Lights
My experiment proves you can grow arugula under LED lights. The amount of light available is the key. If I tried to grow arugula on my window sill during early Spring, there would not be enough light to grow healthy plants.
The LED lights I use are 6,500K (color temp) 2200 lumen output lights that simulate sunlight. The lights are on a timer that provides 12-14 hours of light each day. This is enough light to grow arugula indoors. I learned about these lights from a fellow gardener, Soil and Margaritas. She has a great YouTube channel with lots of gardening tips and tricks.
3. Try Stuff
The third lesson is to try stuff. Hands-on experience is the best teacher. You learn by doing, and there’s no harm in trying something new. After reading the back of the seed pack, I could have stopped after reading growing arugula indoors was not recommended, but my desire to grow my own salad greens pushed me to try. It was worth the effort.
I now know I can grow arugula in my basement under 6,500K LED lights. I’m glad I gave it a go. Happy gardening friends. Stay safe.
1/ Reference Encyclopedia Brittanica.
Soil and Margaritas YouTube Channel for tons of gardening tips and inspiration.