Arugula, The Nutty Salad Green
I first tasted arugula and knew what I was eating about 12 years ago. A few days prior to this most-welcomed discovery, I was at a meeting of a local food action group. These meetings often started with a question or quiz. That day the quiz was what plant I am referring to when I say rocket.
I raised my hand but they would not let me answer. The idea was to get the newbies to learn about plants. Rocket is arugula, a nutty tasting and healthy salad green. Arugula earned the nickname rocket because of its rapid growth.
Some people use arugula as a flavouring because of the nuttiness; however, you use it; arugula will add crispness and flavour to your meal.
If you live in a cold climate this is an ideal green for you; arugula is easy to grow and quite prolific.
Arugula will grow in a variety of soil conditions but really appreciates a soil pH of between 6- 6.8. Be careful of bolting, like most salad greens arugula has a tendency to bolt, (rapid growth, going to seed) when it is hot. You can prevent this but checking on it regularly and harvesting the leaves as you go or if you live in a hot zone, making sure the plants gets some afternoon shade.
Arugula will self-seed but does need help in pollination. You can plant it near an herb or flowering plant that attracts pollinators, although some suggest you do not plant it too close to members of the cabbage family.
You can plant this one in containers or right into a garden bed. In the garden bed, be sure to sow the seeds one inch apart. Plant arugula seeds in rows, if you wish, making sure there is 12 to 18 inches of space between the rows.
Check the seed package for specific planting instructions, but generally speaking you will want to lightly cover the seeds when they have been sown.
You can sow arugula seeds two or three times over the season, (maybe more). When the seedlings are established they may begin to compete with one another for space so thin them.
If you want the arugula to come back year after year, take advantage of the fact this plant is self-seeding and mark the hardiest plants. These are the plants you will allow to go to seed so they can produce next year’s crop.
Arugula is an excellent addition to the cold hardy garden and will provide you with fresh greens, throughout the gardening season.
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