Arugula, easy-growing greens for mixed salads

Arugula leaves on a chopping board

Arugula is now one of the most famous greens to appear in our plates.

Key Arugula facts

Name – Eruca sativa
Family – Brassicaceae
Type – annual

Height – 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm)
Exposure – full sun, part sun, shade
Soil – ordinary

Harvest – 2 months after sowing

Care, from growing to harvesting, is easy and the result is deliciously savory.

Planting, sowing arugula

Arugula can be sown twice in the year, from April to August for a harvest from June to November and in September-October for a harvest in spring.

Direct sowing is the method to use for sowing from April until the end of summer.

  • Arugula quickly goes to seed when the weather is hot, which is why you should avoid trying to grow it in summer if you expect high temperatures.

Smart gardeners stage the sowing to extend the harvest as long as possible. Certain varieties resist cold weather well.

  • Break up the soil to lighten up the ground.
  • Dig grooves that are ½ to 1 inch (1 to 2 cm) deep.
  • Space the furrows apart by 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm).
  • Place the seeds in the furrow at very regular intervals.

When the plants have grown a couple leaves, thin and remove the weakest plants, so that only one stem remains every 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm). Sprouting usually occurs about ten days after sowing, and thinning can be done immediately when the first leaves appear.

  • Upon thinning, take care not to damage the plants that will stay in place because they’re still quite fragile.

Caring for arugula

The epitome of the easy plant to care for, arugula doesn’t require any care other than watering regularly if it doesn’t rain.

Lack of water will indeed trigger bolting, which makes the leaves more spicy or bitter.

  • Keep the soil cool.
  • Run the hoe along the rows regularly.
  • Remove weeds.

As for pests, you might come across large white, which is a butterfly that lays eggs on most types of cabbage and soft-leaved plants.

Harvesting arugula

You can collect your first leaves about 6 weeks after sowing, in spring or in fall.

Break off leaves according to your needs, snipping them off at the collar.

  • Best pick young leaves which have a milder taste.
  • Leave the plants in place, they’ll sprout new leaves.

Note that arugula can be sown quite late. If fall is very mild and if you’ve got cold frames in place, you can actually harvest it all winter long.

All there is to know about arugula

arugulaGrowing arugula is very easy because it adapts to almost any type of soil and exposures.
Arugula is part of the same family as other famous vegetables like cabbage and broccoli.

Reputed for its spicy taste, arugula also has a high nutritious value.

Arugula is often paired to lettuce to spice it up a bit, or is simply eaten raw together with a fresh tomato, cherry tomatoes and sliced cucumber and bell pepper which will soften its taste a bit.

Lastly, note that arugula has high antioxidant powers, and thus protects your body from ageing and from certain diseases such as cancer.

Smart tip about arugula

When harvesting, don’t pull out the entire plant, simply snip off as many leaves as you need. The plant will keep growing and will send out new shoots, which you can then harvest again and again for a long time.