A Guide to Arizona Microgreens

Arizona microgreens are as diverse as the state’s climates.

The reputation of microgreens has improved from a last-minute addition for appearance sake to an integral part of salads, side dishes, and smoothies.

The trendy crop makes for a smooth introduction to farming due to its easy, low-stakes nature.

In this article, you’ll learn about growing Arizona microgreens.

About Microgreens

Microgreens can be anything.

They are grown from a variety of seeds, including melon, cabbage, basil, and sunflower.

Microgreens are vegetables, herbs, fruits, or flowers that are harvested before reaching maturity. They’re a little older than sprouts and younger than baby greens.

The microgreen stage occurs when the sprouted plant grows its first set of true leaves, which resemble the crop’s mature leaves.

The plant is filled with nutrients at this stage because it has all the essential vitamins it needs to reach maturity packed into its small frame.

As a result, microgreens have a lot of health benefits.

For example, red cabbage microgreens have 260 times more beta carotene, which is essential for healthy vision and immune systems, than mature cabbages, according to a 2018 study.

Additionally, a 2017 study found that wheatgrass microgreens have the potential to kill cancer cells.

Chefs love microgreens for the intense flavor they add to any dish.

Microgreens mimic the flavor of their mature counterparts but are often stronger.

For example, radish microgreens have the crisp, spiciness of mature radishes, but they pack a heftier punch.

Microgreens provide farmers with a quick-and-easy way to meet market demand for healthy, flavorful produce.

Because they are not grown to maturity, microgreen plants require only a couple weeks of growing to be ready for harvest.

Plus, they’re little, so they can be sowed very close together, allowing for lots of plants to be grown in a small space. Microgreens are also easy to grow indoors, allowing for vertical farming techniques to maximize yield per square foot.

In other words, microgreens can be grown in high volumes with little space.

Before we can explore growing microgreens in Arizona, we have to understand the state’s growing conditions.

About Arizona Climates

Becoming familiar with your area’s climate is important because it allows you to choose plants that are likely to survive and thrive in the environment.

Arizona is known for being a hot, barren desert. But did you know that Arizona’s agricultural industry exports more than $4.2 billion worth of products?

In reality, Arizona has a range of climates.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies climates by zones. Each zone represents a 10-degree range, with subclassifications using the letters “a” and “b” to indicate increments of 5 degrees.

USDA Hardiness zones range from one to 13 to describe the lowest minimum temperature an area experiences in a year.

The northern city of Flagstaff is considered a zone 6a climate, with the lowest temperature reaching -10 to -5 degrees. Central and southern cities Phoenix and Tucson, respectively, are both zone 9b, reaching a lowest temperature of 25 to 30 degrees.

This means plants that grow better in cooler weather are more likely to survive in Flagstaff where plants that grow better in warmer weather are more likely to survive in Phoenix or Tucson.

It also means the appropriate growing season for plants will vary by location. Plants grown in the summer in Flagstaff will grow better in the winter in Phoenix or Tucson.

Arizona is typically considered an arid or semi-arid environment, depending on location, because the rate of evapotranspiration is greater than the amount of rainfall.

Evapotranspiration is the amount of water that is lost by plants and soil through evaporation and transpiration.

As a result, thirsty microgreens like dun peas won’t grow as well as less thirsty options like arugula.

With this information in mind, it’s time to consider the options for growing Arizona microgreens.

Growing Arizona Microgreens

It’s more than possible to grow bountiful produce in Arizona. In fact, Yuma County is in the top 0.1% of vegetable and melon sales as well as acres of vegetable crops in the country.

Popularly grown produce in Arizona includes romaine lettuce, spinach, cabbage, arugula, and melons. All of these plants can used to grow microgreens!

Choosing what seeds to sow is the first step to growing Arizona microgreens.

Take into consideration fluctuations in market demand. Research what products are in high demand or are currently missing from your area. This will help you sell your product later.

To do so, visit farmers’ markets to scope out the competition and talk to vendors about their top-selling products.

Talk to local chefs who use microgreens in their dishes as well to see if there’s any products they’d love to try and to secure a potential client.

Before starting, take into consideration the limitations of season and climate in your area. This is especially important when growing outdoors but can also help indoor farmers identify and supply out-of-season produce.  

Considering microgreens can be grown from a wide selection of seeds, it can be difficult to decide what to grow. Be sure to do your research and keep crops in mind that grow well in your climate.

Cucumbers, cilantro, dill, and mint microgreens grow well in zone 6 climates like Flagstaff; meanwhile, plants that grow well in zone 9, like Phoenix and Tucson, include beets, broccoli, arugula, and celery.

These vegetables and herbs are all commonly used to grow microgreens.

The availability of resources and development of technology combined with the low-maintenance nature of microgreens make the crops easy to grow inside or out.

An advantage of growing microgreens outdoors is produce tends to be thicker. This is a result of environmental factors like wind pressuring the sprouts into growing stronger.

Growing plants indoors has benefits such as increased yields and lower risk of soil-borne diseases.

Indoor farming can yield 20 times as much produce as outdoor farming due to the abilities to grow vertically and control environmental factors like temperature and weather.

Microgreens don’t necessarily need soil to grow. They can be grown using traditional soil or using a potting mix like coconut coir, which is made from coconut fiber. Crops grown without soil are not at risk for soil-borne diseases.

Once you’ve chosen what crops to grow, it’s time to purchase seeds.

You can use seeds marketed for microgreen growing or you can use regular seeds for the species you plan to grow. If you choose the second option, be sure to use chemical-free seeds to avoid illness upon consumption.

Seeds can be purchased online or in stores.

Some seeds will require special treatment like soaking overnight in order to germinate. Research how to grow the specific species you chose.

Seeds should be sown evenly on the surface of the soil or growing medium.

To mimic harsh conditions of the outdoors, cover the seeds with something flat and place a weight on top. This will grow stronger microgreens.

Once the seeds have sprouted, uncover and allow to grow, watering as needed until the shoots have grown true leaves and stand 3 to 6 inches tall.

Harvest using a sharp chef’s knife or small garden shears.

Be sure to wash produce thoroughly before eating or selling.

Now that you know about Arizona microgreens, it’s time to start growing your own.

If you’re interested in starting your own microgreen farm using our hydroponic container farms, visit our website or call 602-753-3469.