Arugula how to grow

Harvest arugula when the leaves are big enough to eat. Harvest leaves one at a time cut-and-come-again or cut away the entire head.

Arugula is a fast-growing cool-season salad green. It is ready for harvest 30 to 40 days after sowing.

Arugula leaves are tangy and peppery with a mustard-like flavor. Young leaves 2 to 3 inches long (5-7 cm) are mild; older leaves can be sharp flavored.

More tips at How to Grow Arugula.

When to Harvest Arugula

  • Harvest arugula anytime after leaves are large enough to eat.
  • Arugula grows best between 60° and 65°F (15°-18°C)—commonly during spring or autumn. Plants will flower (bolt) and stop producing when temperatures reach the high 70°sF (21°+C) for several days in a row.
  • If temperatures rise into the 80°sF (26°+C), start picking outer leaves immediately; this will briefly delay bolting.
  • In mild-winter regions, arugula will often produce through the winter.
  • In cold-winter regions, grow arugula under a plastic tunnel or in a cold frame. In a cold frame, you can keep arugula from freezing by covering plants with straw or hay.
  • Overwintered arugula will give you an early spring harvest.

How to Harvest Arugula

  • Harvest baby leaves or leaves to 8 inches (20 cm) long cut-and-come-again or cut the whole bunching head.
  • Cut arugula with garden scissors or serrated bread knife. Leave one inch (2.5 cm) of individual leaves or an inch of the crown if you harvest the plant whole. Either way, the plant will keep producing new leaves as long as temperatures are cool.
  • Leaves cut from plants that have produced flowers will be bitter and tough but still edible. Arugula flowers are also edible.

Arugula will keep in the refrigerator for about 10 days but it will be most flavorful in used in 3 to 6 days.

How to Store Arugula

  • Store arugula cold and moist, 32°-40°F (0°-5°C) and 95 percent relative humidity.
  • Wrap leaves in a cloth or paper towel and place them in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable crisper section of the refrigerator.
  • Arugula will keep in the refrigerator for about 10 days but it will be most flavorful in used in 3 to 6 days.
  • Arugula leaves that are stored too cold or too long will develop wilt, yellow, and develop brown spots.

Welcome to Homegrown/Homemade, a video series from our sister sites FineGardening.com and FineCooking.com. We’ll be following a gardener (Danielle Sherry) and a cook (Sarah Breckenridge) as they plant, maintain, harvest, store, and prepare garden vegetables. With the peas growing well, they are turning their attention to arugula.

Episode 3: How to Harvest Arugula

There are three ways to harvest arugula: graze, cut, or pull. Grazing means pinching a couple of leaves off the plants, leaving the rest to grow. You can do this early in the season, as soon as the leaves are a couple of inches long. Later, you can cut up to 1/3 of the plant with a shears. As with grazing, the plants will grow back. The third option is pulling out the entire plant. Do this toward the end of the season, when the plant elongates and flowers begin to form (bolting). To keep wilting to a minimum, don’t pick in full sun.

Episode 1: How to Plant Arugula

Arugula is a spicy green that grows best in cool weather. The best variety for cooking is common arugula; wild arugula, which is said to have a more intense flavor, can be stemmy. Arugula seeds can be direct-sown into the garden in shallow rows spaced 3 to 4 inches apart. Cover with 1/2 inch of soil, and water well.

Episode 2: How to Care for Arugula

If flea beetles are eating your arugula (they leave distinctive little pinholes in the leaves), you can protect your plants in one of two ways. Diatomaceous earth scattered over the leaves will kill all soft-bodied insects (beneficial as well as harmful); if you decide to use it be sure to the product is labeled “food safe” if you have small children or pets. A less toxic alternative is to cover the rows with Reemay, a fabric that keeps out insects but allows light and water to pass through. Drape it over the plants and pin it in place.

Episode 4: How to Prep and Store Arugula

Danielle likes to harvest a big batch of arugula when it’s flavor is at its peak, but has trouble keeping it from spoiling in the fridge after washing. Sarah shows her how to wash and dry it thoroughly before storing.

Cooking with Arugula: Pasta with Arugula, Peas, and Prosciutto

Arugula’s strong flavor can easily overwhelm a dish, but not here, where it is paired with prosciutto, parmigiano, lemon juice and garlic. Watch the video, and get the recipe at FineCooking.com.

More Homegrown/Homemade videos…

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Arugula Growing and Harvest Information

Temperature
Germination 40-55 F
Days to Germination 5-7
For Growth 50-65 F
Soil and Water
Fertilizer generally not required
pH 6.0-7.0
Water moderate and even;light in cold frame
Measurements
Seed Planting depth 1/4″
Root depth 12-18″
Height 8-10″
Width 8-10″
Space between plants
Space between plants 1″
Space between rows 6″
Average plants per person 5
Harvest
Harvest arugula at any time the leaves are of a suitable size (generally around 2 inches long). Younger leaves are generally preferred.
First Seed Starting Date: 56-64 days before last frost date
Last Seed Starting Date: 59-69 Days before first frost date
Companions
Companions Bush beans, celery, carrots, nasturtium, mint, dill, lettuce, cucumbers, onions, rosemary, potatoes
Incompatibles Pole beans, strawberries
Seed Longevity 5 years

Where to Grow Arugula

Arugula is also known as roquette or rocket, and adds a delightful nip to salads. It is generally mixed in with other salad greens that compliment its strong flavor. It is rich in vitamin C and potassium. Some describe it’s flavor as peppery, some as tangy or just nutty. Arugula is a member of the cabbage family, so keep it in with other cabbage family plants in your crop rotation. Arugula, like other brassicias, is a cool-season crop hardy to frosts and light freezes.

Recommended Varieties of Arugula

  • Astro – Compared to most varieties, Astro is ready to harvest a few days earlier and has a milder flavor.
  • Rocket – Another early variety, Rocket bears leaves with a spicy, peppery flavor.
  • Sylvetta – Also known as wild arugula, Sylvetta is a smaller, slower growing, and more pungently flavored variety. Its edible flowers are yellow rather than white. Sylvetta is often used in mesclun mixes. The wild arugula varieties tend to have more prominent stems.

Soil for Arugula

Arugula will grow almost anywhere. To provide the best possible growing conditions prepare the soil by working in some finished compost in the top 3 inches of soil.

When –

Plant seeds outdoors in spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Make additional plantings every three weeks as long as the cool weather lasts. For winter harvests, sow seeds in mid-fall.

How –

Dig a shallow trench with the tip of your garden spade to mark the row where you would like to plant the arugula. Sprinkle the seeds from the packet into the trench trying to space the seedlings out by somewhere between 1/4″ and 1″. If you want to harvest full sized leaves, increase the spacing, or thin the plants out once they are established. Plant in rows approximately 6 inches apart. Cover lightly with soil, the arugula seeds need light to germinate. If they are deeply buried, they will not germinate.

How Arugula Grows

Arugula is a hardy plant and does not have any strong preferences with regard to growing conditions. It can be grown in any well-drained fairly fertile spot or container. Arugula prefers cool weather, and is frost hardy enough that it will bear right through winter in a cold frame or unheated greenhouse. The arugula plant is grown as a longer leaved open lettuce. It is small, with a compact root system, so it is easy to grow in containers or in a flat on a sunny windowsill. It is also good for intercropping between longer season plants.

Cultivating Arugula

Storage Requirements
Arugula does not store well for long periods and is best eaten fresh. Wash and dry then place in a plastic bag in the crisper drawer of the refrigerator. Placing a paper towel in the plastic bag may help control moisture.
Fresh
Temperature Humidity Storage Life
32-40 F 80-90% 2-3 days

Harvesting Arugula

Arugula leaves can be harvested once they are about 2-3 inches long, which can be as soon as 2-3 weeks after the plants germinate under ideal conditions. Cut individual leaves or pull up whole plants. The leaves are best when young, but they retain good flavor until the plant starts to bolt. The flowers are also edible. If the plant does bolt, you can throw some of the flowers in with your salad greens. Once the flowers are set, the leaves will start to taste more bitter.

Arugula Pests

  • Flea Beetles – Will attack young members of the cabbage family, and arugula is no exception. This can be prevented by covering with a floating row cover
  • Cabbage worms – Pick cabbage works off as soon as you see them to minimize damage.

Arugula Diseases

  • Downy Mildew -A fungal pathogen that infects foliage. Avoid succession plantings of brassica plants in close proximity and proper crop rotation as well as cleanup of left over brassicia plant matter. The fungus requires brassicia host tissue to survive and produce spores.
  • Bacterial Leaf Spot – A pathogen that affects foliage. Avoid succession plantings of brassicia plants in close proximity, as well as proper crop rotation will help to prevent this disease. The bacterial may persist for several months on undecomposed host debris.

How To Grow Arugula – Growing Arugula From Seed

What is arugula? The Romans called it Eruca and the Greeks wrote about it in medical texts in the first century. What is arugula? It’s an ancient leafy vegetable that is currently a favorite of chefs around the globe. What is arugula? It’s a specialty item in the lettuce section of your grocery that can be costly. Growing arugula from seed is easy, either in your garden or in a pot on your balcony, and the seeds are a bargain!

Arugula (Eruca sativa) is the general name for several leafy salad greens with pungent, peppery leaves. Like most salad greens, it’s an annual and does best in cooler weather. The arugula plant is low growing with dull green leaves that can be blanched to almost white when covered while still growing. Arugula is always found in the salad greens mix known as mesclun.

Tips for Growing Arugula

Most leafy greens can be direct sown in the ground and the arugula plant is no exception. Like most garden plants, the secret to how to grow arugula successfully lies in what you do before you plant that seed.

The arugula plant grows best in well drained soil, but it likes a lot of moisture so water frequently. The plants also prefer a soil pH of 6-6.5. Dig in some well rotted manure or compost before sowing to satisfy both these needs. This should be done as soon as the soil can be worked in the springl or better yet, prepare the soil in the fall before you shut down your beds so they’ll be ready to plant for spring growing.

Arugula loves cool weather and in most parts of the United States can be planted as early as April. All you need are daytime temperatures above 40 F. (4 C.). Even frost won’t hold it back. Argula grows best in a sunny location although it tolerates some shade, particularly when summer temperatures rise.

To satisfy that itch we gardeners get each spring to harvest something we have planted, there’s nothing like growing arugula. From seed to harvest is about four weeks and in the garden, that’s about as close as you can come to instant gratification. The plants will grow to a height of 1-2 feet, but will remain fairly low until the summer heat forces it to bolt.

When you talk about how to grow arugula, there are those who’ll recommend planting in rows and those who think it’s easier to broadcast the seed over a designated area. The choice is yours. Plant the seeds about a ¼ inch deep and 1 inch apart, then gradually thin to 6-inch spacing. Don’t throw those seedlings away. They’ll make a tasty addition to your salad or sandwich.

Once the remaining plants have several sets of leaves, you can begin harvesting. Don’t pull the entire plant, but take a few leaves from each so you’ll have a continuous supply. Another advantage to growing arugula from seed is that you can make new plantings every two to three weeks to keep the supply going all summer. Don’t plant too much at one time because you don’t want the plants to bolt before you get a chance to harvest.

For gardeners who are short on space, try growing arugula in a container. Any size pot will do, but remember, the smaller the pot, the more watering. For those of you with container grown trees, plant your arugula as a tasty and attractive soil cover. The roots are shallow and won’t interfere with the larger plant’s nutrients or growth.

Now that you know how to grow arugula from seed, you’ll have to give it a try. You’ll be glad that you did.

Arugula is a productive, cool season, annual salad green that works best in spring and fall, and can be managed all winter under cloche protection. In hot weather, arugula will go to seed. Continue reading below to find out how to grow arugula from seed.

Latin: Eruca sativa (Wild Arugula is Diplotaxis tenuifolia)
Family: Brassicaceae

Difficulty: Easy

We Recommend: Astro (MS483). All arugula varieties are good, but Astro stands out. Grow this variety in cool weather, or try it as a micro-green at any time of year.
Season & Zone

Season: Cool season. Arugula tends to bolt in hot weather.
Exposure: Full sun to partial shade.
Zone: Hardy in all zones.

Timing
Direct sow every 3 weeks from mid-March to April and again in September for a fall/winter crop. Optimal soil temperature: 4-12°C (40-50°F).

Starting
Sow no more than 5mm (¼”) deep in well drained soil in full sun. Thin seedlings to 10-15cm (4-6″) apart in rows 45-60cm (18-24″) apart. Overcrowded plants will bolt earlier. Seeds germinate in 4-8 days.

Growing
Ideal pH: 6.5-7.0. keep moist until germinated and then just keep the area weeded.

Harvest
Use as a cut & come again crop, harvesting with scissors. Baby leaves are mild and tender.

Seed Info
In optimum conditions at least 75% of seeds will germinate. Usual seed life: 3 years. Per 100′ row: 1.2M seeds, per acre: 348M seeds.

Diseases & Pests
Flea beetles will cause numerous tiny holes in the leaves. If these appear, try planting a couple of weeks later next year, to avoid their laying cycle. Or plant under lightweight row cover.

Arugula is a cool-season leafy crop. Sow seed as early as 3 weeks before the last frost in spring.

Arugula is a cool-weather crop. Sow arugula seed in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Grow arugula in temperatures ranging from 45° to 65°F (10-18°C). Plant arugula so that it comes to harvest in cool weather.

Sow succession arugula crops every 2 to 3 weeks for a continuous harvest. If summers do not get very warm, continue planting until about a month before the average first frost date.

In hot summer regions where winters are mild, plant arugula in late autumn for harvest in winter and spring.

Yield. Grow 5 to 6 arugula plants per household member.

Planting Arugula

Site to Grow Arugula. Grow arugula in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade. Plant arugula in soil rich in aged compost. Add aged garden compost to planting beds before growing. Arugula prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Arugula Planting Time. Arugula is a hardy, cool-season annual grown best in spring and early summer in cold winter regions and in fall and winter in warm-winter regions. Sow arugula seeds in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in spring, usually 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Cool temperatures produce the sweetest tasting arugula. Grow arugula in temperatures ranging from 45° to 65°F (10-18°C). For best flavor and to avoid bolting, plant arugula so that it comes to harvest in cool weather. Arugula requires about 40 days to come to harvest depending upon the variety.

Arugula Planting and Spacing. Sow arugula seed ¼ inch (6mm) deep and 1 to 2 inches apart (2.5-5 cm) to start. Later, thin plants to 6 inches (15 cm) apart when the seedlings are 4 inches (10 cm) tall. You can eat the thinnings. Space rows 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm) apart. You can also broadcast arugula seed with other greens and harvest leaves when small.

More tips at Arugula Seed Starting Tips.

Companion plants for arugula. Greens. Not peas, beans, or strawberries. Arugula is a good choice for intercropping with larger crops.

Container Growing Arugula. Arugula can be grown in a container. Choose a container at least 6 inches deep to accommodate the roots.

Caring for Arugula

Water and Feeding Arugula. Keep plants evenly moist. Add aged compost to planting beds before planting and again at midseason.

Arugula Pests. Flea beetles can attack arugula. Cover plants with a floating row cover. Use yellow sticky traps to help control pests.

Arugula Diseases. Arugula has no serious disease problems.

Harvesting and Storing Arugula

Arugula Harvest. Arugula is ready for harvest 40 days after sowing. Pick young, tender leaves when they are when they are 2 to 5 inches (5-7.5 cm) long. Pick new leaves from the bottom of the plant. Clip individual leaves for cut-and-come-again harvest. New leaves will sprout from the center crown. Harvest whole plants by pulling out plants or cutting whole plant just above the root. Older leaves are more bitter flavored than young leaves.

More on arugula harvest and storage at How to Harvest and Store Arugula.

Storing and preserving. Arugula will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Arugula Varieties to Grow

Arugula Varieties. ‘Astro’ and ‘Runway’ are early arugula varieties and very good growers. Also, try ‘Rocket’ and ‘Italian Wild Rustic.’

Common name. Arugula

Botanical name. Erica sativa

Origin. Southern Europe and Western Asia

More about arugula in the kitchen at Arugula: Kitchen Basics.

Arugula nutrition facts

Health benefits of Arugula

  1. As in other greens, arugula also is one of the very low-calorie vegetables. 100 g of fresh leaves hold just 25 calories. Nonetheless, it has many vital phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamins, and minerals that may immensely benefit health.

  2. Salad rocket has the ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity, a measure of antioxidant strength) of about 1904 µmol TE per 100 grams.

  3. Being a member of the Brassica family, arugula greens are rich sources of certain phytochemicals such as indoles, thiocyanates, sulforaphane, and iso­thiocyanates. Together, these compounds have been found to counter carcinogenic effects of estrogen and thus may offer protection against prostate, breast, cervical, colon, ovarian cancers by their cancer-cell growth inhibition, cytotoxic effects on cancer cells.

  4. Further, Di-indolyl-methane (DIM), a lipid-soluble metabolite of indole, has the immune modulator, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties (by potentiating Interferon-Gamma receptors). DIM has currently been found application in the treatment of recurring respiratory papillomatosis caused by the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) and is in Phase-III clinical trials for cervical dysplasia.

  5. Fresh salad rocket is one of the greens rich in folates. 100 g of fresh greens contain 97 µg or 24% of folic acid. When given to the anticipant mothers during their conception time, folate may help prevent neural tube defects in the newborns.

  6. Like as in kale, salad rocket is an excellent source of vitamin A. 100 g fresh leaves contain 1424 µg of beta-carotene, and 2373 IU of vitamin A. Carotenes convert into vitamin-A in the body. Studies found that vitamin A and flavonoid compounds in green leafy vegetables help humans protected from skin, lung and oral cavity cancers.

  7. This vegetable also an excellent sources of the B-complex group of vitamins such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), and pantothenic acid those are essential for optimum cellular enzymatic and metabolic functions.

  8. Fresh rocket leaves contain healthy levels of vitamin-C. Vitamin-C is a powerful, natural anti-oxidant. Foods rich in this vitamin help the human body protect from scurvy disease, develop resistance against infectious agents (boosts immunity), and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.

  9. Salad rocket is one of the excellent vegetable sources for vitamin-K; 100 g provides about 90% of recommended intake. Vitamin K has a potential role in bone health by promoting osteotropic (bone formation and strengthening) activity. Adequate amounts of dietary vitamin-K levels help to limit neuronal damage in the brain. It thus has an established role in the treatment of patients who have Alzheimer’s disease.

  10. Its leaves contain adequate levels of minerals, especially copper and iron. Also, it has small amounts of some other essential minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, and phosphorus.

Arugula

arugulaArugula, or roquette (Eruca vesicaria subspecies sativa), a pungent edible herb.Contunico © ZDF Enterprises GmbH, MainzSee all videos for this article

Arugula, (subspecies Eruca vesicaria sativa), also called roquette, salad rocket, garden rocket, or rugula, annual herb of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), grown for its pungent edible leaves. Native to the Mediterranean, arugula is a common salad vegetable in many parts of southern Europe and has grown in popularity around the world for its peppery, nutty taste and its nutritional content. The young leaves are often eaten raw and are a good source of calcium, iron, and vitamins A, C, and K.

arugulaArugula (Eruca vesicaria subspecies sativa) leaves. Arugula has a pungent, nutty flavour and is popular in salads. © Walter H. Hodge/Peter Arnold, Inc.

The plant initially forms a basal rosette of smooth to lobed leaves. In relatively cool weather, the young leaves have a mild flavour and can be continually harvested in spring or early fall. The leaves of spring crops become increasingly bitter as the season progresses and are generally unpalatable when the plant bolts (rapidly grows in height)—arugula can grow to about 70 cm (2.5 feet) tall—in preparation for flowering in midsummer. The white four-petaled flowers have purple veins and are borne in loose clusters. They produce thick, flat-beaked seed capsules known as siliques. A spicy oil can be extracted from the seeds and has applications in folk medicine.

arugulaArugula, or roquette, flowers (Eruca vesicaria subspecies sativa). To deter herbivores, arugula leaves become extremely bitter and unpalatable when the plant begins flowering.Retama

How to Choose the Healthiest Salad Greens

Headed to a hoppin’ salad bar for lunch? Chances are there will be handfuls of fresh greens up for grabs, from romaine and iceberg to spinach and red leaf lettuce. But when it comes to choosing the healthiest salad base, which types of lettuce pack the biggest nutritional punch?

Seeing Green—The Need-to-Know

Sorry sandwich lovers, but a few shreds of lettuce on a bun won’t add up to the USDA’s daily recommended intake (2-3 cups for most adults). Instead, a big, healthy salad is one of the smartest ways to go green. Coming in at under 10 calories per cup, a big bowl of leaves can be a stellar source of vitamins A, C, K, and folate, among other essential nutrients.

But not all leafy greens will build a super-nutritious salad. In fact, America’s favorite lettuce, iceberg, ranks the lowest in nutritional value across the board (96 percent water content will do that!). Turbo-charged spinach, on the other hand, boasts nearly twice the recommended daily value of vitamin K, half the recommended value of vitamin A, and ampleamounts of calcium and iron. Clearly, Popeye was on to something.

Prefer a crunchier base? A cup of romaine is a tasty alternative, with a huge dose of vitamin A and a variety of other nutrients. Or, for a mild but textured bed, red leaf lettuce clocks in at just 4 calories per cup, with nearly half of the daily recommended dose of vitamins A and K. Arugula (technically a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, kale, and cabbage) also packs a healthy dose of nutrients and phytochemicals, which may inhibit the development of certain cancers. And for the non-committal types, mixed greens (typically a mix of romaine, oak leaf lettuce, arugula, frisée, and radicchio) offer, well, a mixed bag of nutritional benefits, depending on the batch.

Salad for Salad—Your Guide to Greens

Which greens are the best bet? Check out the infographic below for the nutritional low-down.

Winning the Toss—Your Action Plan

Consider visiting the salad bar a free pass to join the dark side. Research shows that darker “loose” or “open leaf” lettuces (such as romaine, red leaf, and butterhead) contain more antioxidants and nutrients than the typically lighter-colored, more tightly-packed heads (such as iceberg). The reason? The darker leaves are able to absorb more light and, in turn, synthesize more vitaminsImpact of light variation on development of photoprotection, antioxidants, and nutritional value in Lactuca sativa L Zhou, Y.H., Zhang, Y.Y., Zhao, X., et al. Department of Horticulture, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2009, Jun 24; 57(12): 5494-500.. And while there’s no good way to pick and choose a store-bought salad leaf for leaf, at home, opting for the tops and outer leaves can guarantee a more nutritious base.

Ready to go darker (and healthier) still? While they’re not stocked at most salad bars, check the produce aisle for tougher roughage like Swiss chard and kale, which beat out even spinach in the antioxidant game. Be sure to give the leaves a good cold rinse before serving raw, boiled, or steamed, as the folds in these greens tend to accumulate dirt more easily than other veggies. Also keep in mind that high heat can strip veggies of their natural vitamin contentPotential of commonly consumed green leafy vegetables for their antioxidant capacity and its linkage with the micronutrient profile.Tarwadi, K., Agte, V. Biometry and Nutrition Group, Agharkar Research Institute, Maharashtra, India. International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 2003 Nov; 54(6): 417-25.. The final key to becoming a lean, green fighting machine? Dress for success. Hold off on the creamy dressings, croutons, bacon bits, and layers of shredded cheese. Instead, opt for a lighter vinaigrette and a sprinkling of chopped walnuts or sunflower seeds for added crunch and protein.

This article originally posted June 2012. Updated May 2013.

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