Thursday, August 6, 2020

Growing Arugula -- Homesteading 101

aka  Rocket Roquette 
Cool-season annual plant
Height:  6-12"       Width 8-10"

The leaves of Arugula provide a spicy zing when added to salads.  It will grow a rosette about a foot wide and equally as tall.  It's a cut-and-come-again plant.  It boasts several health benefits.  It is an excellent source of fiber, rich in Vitamins A, C, and K as well as a good source of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium.


Wild Arugula.  Grows up to 2' tall with jagged leaves and a yellow flower.

Rocket Salad.  A weaker peppery flavor.  The plant grows up to 3' tall.  It has lobed leaves and a white flower.

Starting Seeds of Arugula

Seed Depth:                    1/8" on the soil surface and tamp down.
Seed Spacing:                 3-4"  Thin to 4-6".
Days to Germinate:          7-14 days.
Days to Harvest:              3 weeks/baby leaves,  45 days mature.
Seed Longevity:               4 years.

Sowing Outdoors

Direct sow in the ground or in containers as early as when the soil temperature is 40+ degrees.

Salad Spinner


Winter Sowing

If you haven't tried winter sowing, you're in for a treat.  This method is especially good for sowing herbs and greens.  Winter sowing is basically sowing seeds in the bottom of a milk jug during the winter, setting the milk jugs outside for the winter and leaving them there until the seeds germinate in Spring.

To see our detailed article about Winter Sowing, click here.

Salad Tongs


Growing Arugula Plants

Growing Temperature: 
Arugula is frost hardy enough that it can grow through the winter in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse.

Plant Spacing:                  12-18" apart.
Container Size:                 8" depth is enough.
Sun/Shade:                       Full sun, some mid-day shade.
Soil:                                   Rich, compost.
Watering:                           Consistent moisture for best flavor.

Salad Lunch Container


Since greens are such a  fast-growing crop, as long as they are grown in rich soil there may be little need for further fertilization.    That said, a liquid balanced fertilizer when the seedlings are 4" tall will give your greens a boost and carry them through their short season.  After the temperatures warm, though, the leaves of Arugula will turn bitter and no amount of fertilizer will help at that point.

Harvesting Arugula

Harvest when leaves are 4-6" tall.  Harvest outer leaves.  Harvest until leaves taste too strong.  Harvesting often will encourage new growth.

Using Arugula

  • A great addition to any salad, but use sparingly for a mustard-like flavor.
  • Pizza toppings.
  • Add Arugula flowers to salads in late spring and summer for their peppery flavor.
  • Cook larger leaves with other greens.
  • Small leaves tend to be milder while the larger has a more peppery taste.
  • Arugula goes well with most meats, especially grilled meats.

Storing Arugula For Later Use

Remove Arugula's tough stems, clean and dry.
Although tender green-leafed plants, like lettuce, cannot be preserved well, the thicker leafed greens can be preserved.

  • Clean and pat dry.  Bundle stems lightly, place on a paper towel (to absorb moisture) and wrap in a plastic bag.  Keeps in refrigerator for 10 days.

Freezing for Later Use in Chilis, Soups, Sauces, and Casseroles.
  • Steam or saute' leaves, chop them and store in freezer bags.
  • Puree with water and freeze into ice cube trays.
  • Clean and dry the leaves and store in quart size freezer bags.
  • Frozen leaves will keep for 6 months.
  • Blanching the leaves for two minutes first will extend freezer storage to 14 months.

To read the other articles in our Growing Your Greens series, click on the name below:

Swiss Chard

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