How to Grow Arugula

Arugula is a leafy, cruciferous vegetable, commonly referred to as both rocket or roquette. Originating from the Mediterranean region, Arugula can now be found around the world. It has a slightly spicy flavor and can be eaten raw or cooked. Arugula is a nutritional powerhouse, high in vitamins A, C, K, magnesium, calcium and iron. It makes for a flavorful addition to salads, pastas and sandwiches.

Arugula is a delicious and unique tasting salad green belonging to the mustard family of vegetable plants. It yields a sharp, peppery flavor that is popular in salads and sandwiches. As a bonus, arugula is also high in vitamins A and C and can be relatively easy to grow.

Choosing a Arugula Variety

When choosing arugula, you have a few options. Most garden catalogs chose from several types of arugula including regular arugula with lobed leaves and a sharp, peppery flavor, rocket arugula for a somewhat milder flavor, or wild arugula, which has a strong and spicy flavor. Other varieties are available, such as wild Italian arugula, that can offer their own unique flavor.

Planting in the Ground or Containers

Arugula can easily be grown in containers if desired. Just fill the container with a soil and compost mix and plant the seeds. Since arugula is a cold-weather tolerant variety, it can be planted earlier in the spring, even in temperatures as low as 30° F. To get the most out of container-grown arugula, use a soil-less mix and use the container frequently to resow the seeds.

Those with a garden however, will find it easier to plant arugula directly in the ground. The plants can be grown in short rows for easier harvesting or planted in blocks or pots for a fuller harvest. Be sure to choose a sunny or partially shaded spot in the garden for optimal growth. Arugula can also be grown indoors or outside in raised beds.

Caring for the Arugula Plants

Arugula requires little maintenance and should rarely need supplemental watering during hot and dry spells. However, during the summer months, providing the plants with some shade can help prevent bolting, which is when the plants begin to produce flower buds and their flavor changes into a more bitter taste.

When the plants reach up to 3-4 inches in height, weed out any unwanted plants that may have sprouted. Keep in mind that some soil-less mixes may contain stray weed seeds, so extra care should be given to identify and remove any unwanted plants.

Harvesting Arugula

Arugula can be harvested regularly when the leaves are small and tender, this also encourages more leaf growth and can provide a continuous harvest. When harvesting, cut a few leaves at a time, leaving the center rosette of leaves untouched. Arugula leaves can be consumed raw or cooked, but be sure to rinse them thoroughly before consuming.

A Healthy and Flavorful Green

Arugula is an excellent choice for both novice and experienced gardeners looking to add healthy and flavorful greens to their diet. Not only is it packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, and magnesium, but it can also be harvested a mere 30 days after planting. Additionally, its spicy and peppery flavor is a great addition to salads and other dishes. Finally, Arugula is a hardy and versatile crop, thriving in both spring and fall temperatures and exhibiting a wide range of pest and disease resistances.

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