How to Grow Arugula Indoors (This Winter) - No Plant No Life

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

How to Grow Arugula Indoors (This Winter)

As the cold winter months approach, many gardeners find themselves longing for the fresh, crisp taste of homegrown greens. 

Fortunately, you can continue enjoying your favorite leafy vegetables, even when it's freezing outside. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll focus on one of the most versatile and cold-hardy greens you can grow indoors during the winter -'' arugula.''

Arugula, with its peppery and slightly nutty flavor, is not only delicious but also packed with essential nutrients. 

Growing arugula indoors allows you to enjoy its vibrant taste and nutritional benefits all year round. 

Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a novice, this guide will provide you with step-by-step instructions on how to successfully cultivate arugula in the comfort of your home during the winter months. So, let's get started!

Choosing the Right Container 

The first step to growing arugula indoors this winter is selecting the right container. 

Arugula doesn't require a large space to thrive, making it a perfect choice for indoor gardening. Here's what you need to consider when choosing a container:

Size: Arugula has relatively shallow roots, so you can opt for a shallow container or a window box that's at least 6-8 inches deep.

Material: Select a container made of durable materials like plastic, ceramic, or wood. Ensure it has proper drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

Location: Decide where you'll place your container. Arugula requires a minimum of 4-6 hours of direct sunlight daily, so choose a sunny windowsill or provide supplemental grow lights.

Mobility: If you have limited space or want the flexibility to move your arugula container around, consider a container with wheels or handles.

Choosing the Right Arugula Varieties

When it comes to arugula, you have several varieties to choose from, each with its unique flavor and characteristics. Some common arugula varieties suitable for indoor growing include:

Wild Arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia): Known for its peppery and spicy flavor, wild arugula is a popular choice among home gardeners.

Astro Arugula (Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa): This variety has a milder flavor and is a great option for those who prefer a less intense peppery taste.

Dragon's Tongue Arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia): Characterized by its serrated leaves with red veins, this variety adds a pop of color to your indoor garden.

Slow-Bolt Arugula: Ideal for indoor cultivation, slow-bolt arugula is less likely to bolt (produce flowers and go to seed) prematurely, ensuring a longer harvest period.

Choose a variety that suits your taste preferences and space limitations. 

Remember that you can also mix and match different arugula varieties to create a diverse and flavorful indoor garden.

Preparing the Right Soil Mix

Now that you have your container and arugula seeds, it's time to prepare the right soil mix for your indoor arugula garden. 

Arugula prefers well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH (around 6.0 to 7.0). Here's how to create the perfect soil mix:

Start with a high-quality potting mix or seed starting mix. Avoid using garden soil, as it can harbor pests and diseases and may not provide the necessary drainage.

To improve drainage, mix in some perlite, vermiculite, or coarse sand. This helps prevent waterlogged roots, which can lead to rot.

If you prefer an organic approach, you can add compost or well-rotted manure to enrich the soil with nutrients.

Ensure the soil mix is loose and well-aerated to promote healthy root development.

Planting Arugula Seeds

Now that your container and soil mix are ready, it's time to plant your arugula seeds. Follow these steps for a successful planting process:

Moisten the soil mix slightly to create a damp but not soggy environment for your seeds.

Scatter arugula seeds evenly over the surface of the soil. You can plant them in rows or broadcast them across the container.

Gently press the seeds into the soil using the back of a spoon or your hand. They should be planted about ¼ to ½ inch deep.

Cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil or vermiculite, and lightly water the surface again to settle the seeds.

To help retain moisture and maintain even germination, cover the container with a plastic lid or plastic wrap until the seeds sprout. 

Once the seedlings appear, remove the cover to promote air circulation.

Maintain consistent moisture by watering your arugula plants regularly. Ensure the soil remains consistently damp but not waterlogged.

Providing the Right Temperature and Light 

Arugula thrives in cool weather, which makes it an excellent choice for winter indoor gardening. 

To ensure your arugula plants grow vigorously, pay attention to temperature and light conditions:

Temperature: Arugula prefers temperatures between 50°F and 68°F (10°C to 20°C). 

Keep your indoor space within this range to encourage robust growth. Avoid exposing arugula to extreme cold or heat.

Light: Adequate lighting is crucial for arugula growth. Place your container in a spot that receives at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. 

If natural light is insufficient, supplement with grow lights. Position the lights 6-12 inches above the plants and provide 12-16 hours of light daily.

Light Duration: Arugula can be sensitive to day length. If you want to extend the harvest period, consider using a timer for your grow lights to maintain a consistent day-length regimen.

Light Distance: Adjust the height of your grow lights as the arugula plants grow to ensure they receive enough light without becoming leggy.

Watering and Humidity

Proper watering is essential to keep your arugula plants healthy and thriving. Here are some guidelines to follow:

Water consistently: Arugula prefers even moisture. Water the plants when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. 

Avoid letting the soil completely dry out or become waterlogged.

Watering technique: Use a gentle watering technique to prevent disturbing the delicate arugula seedlings. 

A watering can with a fine spray nozzle or a misting bottle works well.

Humidity: Arugula appreciates higher humidity levels. To increase humidity around your plants, you can place a tray filled with water and pebbles near the container or use a room humidifier.

Avoid overhead watering: Directly watering the leaves can increase the risk of fungal diseases. Aim to water the soil around the base of the plants.

Fertilizing Your Arugula

To keep your indoor arugula healthy and productive during the winter, you'll need to provide it with essential nutrients. 

While a good potting mix can provide some initial nutrients, you'll want to supplement with fertilizer as your arugula grows. Here's how to go about it:

Choose the right fertilizer: Opt for a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer with a ratio close to 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. 

This ensures your arugula receives a balanced mix of essential nutrients.

Start fertilizing when the seedlings have their first true leaves. Dilute the fertilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions, typically around half the recommended strength.

Apply the diluted fertilizer every 2-4 weeks during the growing season. 

Be cautious not to over-fertilize, as excessive nutrients can lead to salt buildup in the soil.

Always water your arugula before applying fertilizer to prevent root burn. Water-soluble fertilizers are more effective when applied to moist soil.

Thinning Your Arugula Seedlings

As your arugula seedlings grow, you may notice that they are too close together. 

Crowded seedlings can lead to poor air circulation and increased risk of disease. 

To ensure proper spacing and allow your arugula plants to reach their full potential, thinning is necessary:

Wait until your arugula seedlings have at least two true leaves before thinning. 

True leaves are the leaves that follow the initial seedling leaves (cotyledons).

Carefully remove the weaker seedlings, leaving a spacing of about 2-4 inches between the remaining plants. 

This allows enough room for each arugula plant to grow without competing for nutrients and light.

You can either gently pull out the unwanted seedlings or use scissors to snip them at soil level. 

Be cautious not to disturb the roots of the remaining plants.

Thinned seedlings can be a tasty addition to salads or sandwiches, so don't let them go to waste.

Pest and Disease Management

Even indoors, arugula can still be susceptible to pests and diseases. It's important to be vigilant and take preventative measures to protect your crop:

Common pests: Keep an eye out for aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites, which can sometimes infest indoor arugula. 

You can control these pests by using insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Disease prevention: Proper air circulation and avoiding overhead watering can help prevent fungal diseases like powdery mildew. 

If you notice signs of disease, treat your plants promptly with a suitable fungicide.

Regular inspections: Regularly check the undersides of leaves for signs of pests or disease. 

Early detection and intervention are key to keeping your arugula healthy.

Quarantine new plants: If you introduce new plants into your indoor garden, make sure to quarantine them for a few weeks to ensure they are pest and disease-free before placing them near your arugula.

Harvesting Your Indoor Arugula

One of the most rewarding parts of growing arugula indoors during the winter is harvesting your fresh, homegrown greens. Here's how to harvest arugula for the best flavor and yield:

Begin harvesting when the arugula leaves are at least 3-4 inches long. 

You can either pick individual leaves or cut the entire plant about an inch above the soil.

Harvesting individual leaves allows the remaining plants to continue growing, providing a longer harvest period. If you cut the entire plant, it may not regrow.

For the best flavor, harvest your arugula in the morning when the leaves are crisp and have the highest water content.

Enjoy your freshly harvested arugula in salads, sandwiches, wraps, or as a garnish for various dishes. Its peppery flavor adds a delightful kick to your winter meals.

Final Thoughts  

Growing arugula indoors during the winter is not only a satisfying gardening endeavor but also a way to enjoy fresh, homegrown greens when the weather outside is less than ideal. 

By following the steps outlined in this comprehensive guide, you can cultivate a thriving arugula crop that provides you with a continuous supply of delicious and nutritious greens.

Remember that indoor gardening allows you to have control over the growing conditions, making it possible to enjoy your favorite vegetables year-round. 

With the right container, suitable arugula varieties, proper soil mix, and attentive care, you'll be able to savor the peppery goodness of arugula even on the coldest winter days. Happy gardening!


Can I really grow arugula indoors during the winter?

Yes, you can successfully grow arugula indoors during the winter. Arugula is a cold-hardy green that thrives in cool temperatures, making it an excellent choice for indoor cultivation when it's cold outside.

What kind of container should I use for growing arugula indoors?

Choose a shallow container or window box that's at least 6-8 inches deep. Ensure it has drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.

How do I know when to water my indoor arugula plants?

Water your arugula when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Keep the soil consistently damp but not waterlogged.

Do I need special lights for growing arugula indoors?

Arugula requires at least 4-6 hours of direct sunlight per day. If natural light is insufficient, you can use grow lights positioned 6-12 inches above the plants for 12-16 hours daily.

Can I grow arugula from seeds I saved from a store-bought bunch?

It's best to use fresh arugula seeds from a reputable source for optimal germination and growth.

What's the ideal temperature range for indoor arugula cultivation?

Arugula prefers temperatures between 50°F and 68°F (10°C to 20°C). Avoid exposing it to extreme cold or heat.

How often should I fertilize my indoor arugula plants?

Fertilize with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer every 2-4 weeks, starting when the seedlings have their first true leaves. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for dilution.

Do I need to worry about pests and diseases indoors?

While indoor arugula is less susceptible to pests and diseases than outdoor crops, it's essential to monitor for common issues like aphids and powdery mildew. Use appropriate treatments if needed.

Can I grow different arugula varieties together in one container?

Yes, you can mix and match arugula varieties in the same container to create a diverse and flavorful indoor garden.

How do I know when my arugula is ready to harvest?

You can start harvesting arugula when the leaves are at least 3-4 inches long. Harvest individual leaves or cut the entire plant about an inch above the soil for the best flavor and yield.

No comments:

Post a Comment