Four Things You Want to Know About Growing Arugula
is also known as "rocket" or "roquette" but whatever the name
it is a very trendy leafy green plant. It is used in salads for the
most part because of its sweet peppery taste where it provides a very
distinctive taste sensation.
Chefs like it because it has the same taste sensation as a spring green
onion but it doesn't leave an aftertaste in your mouth (no oils).
leaf resembles chicory - a notched mid-green leaf so do be careful
you're growing the right plant. :-) A tiny nibble will confirm this.
To grow arugula, sow outside in the very
early spring and continue
until the weather warms up.
Sow every 2-3
weeks for an ongoing supply
of fresh succulent leaves.
The easiest way to
sow this small seed is to
sow the seed in a band approximately 3-inches wide and try to space the
seeds 1-inch apart.
Rows should be 18-inches
apart if you're growing
lots of this (although on a home scale you have to use a LOT of this
plant to have rows - a few will go a long way).
cover the seed
and firm the soil with your hand. Sow again in late August for late
fall crops and overwintering.
The first spring
crops can often be taken
from overwintered greens and these will be the sweetest.
Common Problem with Summer Crops
arugula can not be grown in the heat of the summer. Well, it
can be grown but you're going to find the leaves taste really, really
bitter and not at all pleasant.
This is the
most common problem with
growing the plant - home gardeners try to continue harvesting it during
high heat spells.
At this point, it is simply
easier to pull the plant
out of the garden and sow something else in its place. Sow again in the
fall as above.
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Arugula is usually ready for harvesting around
40 days from sowing. You
can harvest the individual leaves that come off the small rosette heart
or you can harvest the entire plant. I don't bother thinning the rows
until harvesting and then the harvesting thins and gives greens at the
After approximately 50-60 days, the
older plants will start
getting bitter no matter whether it is hot or not. This is why
successive plantings every 2-3 weeks are so important with this plant.
I note a leaf can be harvested when
it is only 2-inches long. The
flowers are also edible but once arugula has set flowers pull it out,
it will no longer be edible.
than that, you'll find compost in the spring and regular watering
will keep this plant happy.
The trick to
getting good tasting arugula
is in the timing and regular harvesting as above.
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