What is called arugula in North American is known elsewhere as roquette, rucoli, and colewort. Eruca sativa is a short leafy green that grows about 12–24 inches tall and is packed with a powerful punch of spicy flavor. The leaves are recognizable in salad mixes by its deep and pinnately lobed leaves. Arugula flowers resemble its fellow kin in the brassica family: bunches of small creamy white-yellow flowers. Fruits of these flowers contain seeds which can be saved for future planting.
Astro is one of the most commonly grown types of arugula both commercially and in gardens because it can tolerate higher levels of heat than other varieties without bolting and grows back quickly after being harvested. Leaves can grow up to 10″ in height and have a mild, spicy flavor that’s great raw in salads or cooked in stir-fries. Although plants reach full maturity after 40 days, arugula can be harvested as baby greens as early as 21 days after planting.
Seed Depth: 1/8–1/4″
Space Between Plants: 1–6″
Space Between Rows: 6–12″
Germination Soil Temperature: 40–75°F, with an ideal range of 40–55°F.
Days for Germination: 5–7
Sow Indoors: 4–6 weeks before last frost.
Sow Outdoors: 1–2 weeks before last frost or as soon as soil can be worked. Continue to sow seeds every two to three weeks after your first planting to enjoy fresh arugula all season long.
Vegetative: Not recommended.
This leafy green is a cold weather crop that will bolt if exposed to extreme heat, so be sure to provide some shade cover if planting in temperatures that consistently surpass 75–80°F. In most climate zones, arugula performs best when planted in the early spring or late summer just before temperatures begin to drop.
Natural:Full sun. Partial shade in hot weather.
ARTIFICIAL: Will grow best when exposed to light for at least 12–14 hours per day. Standard fluorescent or T5 bulbs will provide adequate light to help your plants thrive. Be sure to keep bulbs at least 6″ from the tops of plants to prevent burning and/or bolting.
Soil: A nutrient-laden soil rich in humus with a pH of between 6.0 and 6.8 is ideal. Arugula is not persnickety and will tolerate a variety of soil conditions; however, make sure to provide good drainage.
SOILLESS: Will germinate well in soilless media. We recommend a mix that contains perlite and/or vermiculite for improved drainage.
Hydroponics: Thrives in hydroponics systems such as NFT. Hydroponic growing will accelerate arugula growth with a harvest ready in just 3 months.
Aeroponics: Thrives in aeroponics systems. Aeroponic growth of arugula may increase yield (and flavor) even more than hydroponics.
WATER: Requires moderate levels of water. Keeping soil moist but not soggy will help keep your plants from bolting. Avoid wetting the leaves to reduce opportunistic conditions for fungal disease.
NUTRIENTS: Amend the soil with compost high in organic matter before planting seeds.
FOLIAR: Spray leaves with a compost tea or fish emulsion to help promote growth. Stop spraying about a week before harvesting.
PRUNING: Occasionally picking younger leaves off your plants will allow them to develop larger leaves with a stronger flavor while making room for new growth.
MULCHING: A light mulch of straw or even newspaper can reduce weed growth, which is necessary to avoid competitors trying to steal your arugula’s spotlight!
ROTATION: Avoid rotating with members of the brassica family.
Companions: Grows well with bush beans, carrots, mint, nasturtium, potato, onion thyme, rosemary, beets, and cucumber to name a few. Avoid planting with strawberries and other members of the brassica family.
HARVEST: Pick or trim leaves when they are 2-6″ tall, keeping in mind that older leaves will have a stronger flavor than younger ones. Flowering will cause leaves to turn bitter, so harvesting is preferentially done before signs of blooming.
Storage: Store fresh leaves in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, but they are highly perishable and best used immediately after harvest. Once frozen, leaves will keep for 6 months.
Fun Fact: The ancient Romans used arugula as an aphrodisiac, and recent studies suggest that they may have actually been on to something! Some studies have shown that components in arugula can increase testosterone levels and block libido-damaging environmental toxins.
Preserve: Leaves can be steamed or blanched and frozen for later use, but they will lose some of their flavor.
Prepare: Usually eaten fresh with other salad greens or added whole and cooked or sautéed lightly. Arugula makes a great topping for pastas and pizzas.
Nutritional: As a leafy green, arugula is a low-cal vegetable that presents itself as a good source of folic acid and vitamin(s) A, B, C, and K. The leaves are also high in concentrations of iron.
MEDICINAL: Valuable phyto-chemicals, which some studies claim have anti-cancer and counter carcinogenic effects, are prevalent in arugula leaves. Arugula has also been linked to lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of osteoporosis, and improving overall heart health.
This Beet Carpaccio with Arugula, Radishes, and Grapefruit Salad certainly isn’t your standard side dish! Between the spice of arugula and radishes and the tangy, citrus flavor of the grapefruit, we’re sure this salad will make you say “wow”!