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Arugula, easy-growing greens for mixed salads


Arugula is one of the most famous greens for tasty meals.

Key Arugula facts

Name – Eruca sativa
Family – Brassicaceae
Type – annual

Height – 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm)
Soil – ordinary

Exposure: full sun, part sun, shade     –    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.

Sowing arugulaDirect 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 (rows) apart by 8 to 10 inches (20 to 25 cm).
  • Place the seeds along the furrow at very regular intervals.

Arugula thinningWhen the plants have grown a couple leaves, thin and remove the weakest plants. Normally you’d only keep one sprout every 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm). Sprouting usually occurs about ten days after sowing, and thinning can be done immediately when first true leaves appear.

  • Upon thinning, take care not to damage remaining plants because they’re still quite fragile.

Good to know: sprinkle the seedlings you’ve pulled out on tossed salads or as a side. They’re very nutritious micro-greens!

Arugula in a pot

Arugula in a potGrowing arugula in a pot is perfectly possible. Simply make sure of the following:

  • make sure you use a light, well-draining soil mix
  • check that the pot can drain water out from the bottom
  • it’s very important to water regularly: any water stress will compromise growth

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.

Arugula careLack 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.

Arugula harvestBreak 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.

Producers have nifty harvesting devices that make it much faster to harvest larger quantities.

All there is to know about arugula

Arugula cookingGrowing 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 lettuceArugula 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.

Images: CC BY 2.0: Stacy, CC BY-SA 2.0: justgrimes; Pixabay: Karolina Grabowska / Kaboompics, VictoryRock; Public Domain: Bret Bostock, NRCS Pacific Islands Area; shutterstock: vaivirga
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  • richard wrote on 19 February 2023 at 9 h 29 min

    Oh my gosh I’ve been throwing the seedlings I thin out every time till now! Lesson learned, now I’ll get a few more greens out from my balcony, lucky me