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).
The leaf resembles chicory – a notched mid-green leaf so do be careful you’re growing the right plant. 🙂 A tiny nibble will confirm this.
How To Grow
- 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).
- Barely 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.
Most Common Problem with Summer Crops
Note that 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. Frankly, imho it’s got a bit of acidic heat at the best of times and you let the summer heat work on it and it’s pretty much inedible (at least for me).
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
Some Details Readers Usually Ask
- 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 same time.
- 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.
Other 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.