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.
The Roquette Arugula variety is the standard type most commonly grown in home gardens. As a cultivated strain, the leaves are smooth, tender, pale green, and wider than more wild varieties. Plant this spicy green for an added kick to your garden fresh salads!
Seed Depth: 1/8–1/4″
Space Between Plants: 1–6″
Space Between Rows: 6–12″
Germination Soil Temperature: 40–75°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 or partial shade.
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 weeks.
Aeroponics: Thrives in aeroponics systems. Aeroponic growth of arugula may improve 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: 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 flowers, seed pods, and seeds of arugula are all edible. So don’t miss out on getting the most from your arugula plant!
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: Being a 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.
Make this delightful Arugula Pesto to add some pep to your pastas and sandwiches!