How To Grow Arugula – Growing Arugula From Seed

How To Grow Arugula – Growing Arugula From Seed

By: Jackie Rhoades

What is arugula? The Romans called it Eruca and the Greeks wrote about it in medical texts in the first century. What is arugula? It’s an ancient leafy vegetable that is currently a favorite of chefs around the globe. What is arugula? It’s a specialty item in the lettuce section of your grocery that can be costly. Growing arugula from seed is easy, either in your garden or in a pot on your balcony, and the seeds are a bargain!

Arugula (Eruca sativa) is the general name for several leafy salad greens with pungent, peppery leaves. Like most salad greens, it’s an annual and does best in cooler weather. The arugula plant is low growing with dull green leaves that can be blanched to almost white when covered while still growing. Arugula is always found in the salad greens mix known as mesclun.

Tips for Growing Arugula

Most leafy greens can be direct sown in the ground and the arugula plant is no exception. Like most garden plants, the secret to how to grow arugula successfully lies in what you do before you plant that seed.

The arugula plant grows best in well drained soil, but it likes a lot of moisture so water frequently. The plants also prefer a soil pH of 6-6.5. Dig in some well rotted manure or compost before sowing to satisfy both these needs. This should be done as soon as the soil can be worked in the springl or better yet, prepare the soil in the fall before you shut down your beds so they’ll be ready to plant for spring growing.

Arugula loves cool weather and in most parts of the United States can be planted as early as April. All you need are daytime temperatures above 40 F. (4 C.). Even frost won’t hold it back. Argula grows best in a sunny location although it tolerates some shade, particularly when summer temperatures rise.

To satisfy that itch we gardeners get each spring to harvest something we have planted, there’s nothing like growing arugula. From seed to harvest is about four weeks and in the garden, that’s about as close as you can come to instant gratification. The plants will grow to a height of 1-2 feet (30-61 cm.), but will remain fairly low until the summer heat forces it to bolt.

When you talk about how to grow arugula, there are those who’ll recommend planting in rows and those who think it’s easier to broadcast the seed over a designated area. The choice is yours. Plant the seeds about a ¼ inch (6 mil.)deep and 1 inch apart, then gradually thin to 6-inch (15 cm.) spacing. Don’t throw those seedlings away. They’ll make a tasty addition to your salad or sandwich.

Once the remaining plants have several sets of leaves, you can begin harvesting. Don’t pull the entire plant, but take a few leaves from each so you’ll have a continuous supply. Another advantage to growing arugula from seed is that you can make new plantings every two to three weeks to keep the supply going all summer. Don’t plant too much at one time because you don’t want the plants to bolt before you get a chance to harvest.

For gardeners who are short on space, try growing arugula in a container. Any size pot will do, but remember, the smaller the pot, the more watering. For those of you with container grown trees, plant your arugula as a tasty and attractive soil cover. The roots are shallow and won’t interfere with the larger plant’s nutrients or growth.

Now that you know how to grow arugula from seed, you’ll have to give it a try. You’ll be glad that you did.

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Growing Arugula: How To Raise Arugula In Your Garden - garden

When it comes to growing arugula, you have some options in terms of the structures it can be grown in!

Arugula can be grown in the ground, in a planter pot, or in a raised bed - as long as they have a minimum soil depth of 8 inches (20 cm).

CONTAINERS/PLANTER POTS

These are a great option to use, especially if you have limited space! Just make sure that if you do grow your arugula in containers, that they have at least one hole in the bottom to ensure good water drainage.

RAISED BEDS

The best part about using raised beds is that the soil within them is usually workable a lot earlier in the springtime - so you can start gardening sooner! As well, raised beds have really more water drainage, and they keep your plants safe since you don't have to step on their soil to work on them. Finally, raised beds make for a more comfortable gardening experience, since you don't have to bend or kneel down as much to work on your arugula!

No matter which option you choose to grow your arugula in, you'll soon be rewarded with a tasty, leafy yield!

PS. Want tips and tricks for growing a variety of herbs and vegetables? Sign up for our newsletter, and stay informed about all things gardening. You'll receive helpful, step-by-step tips to help make your garden a success!


Growing Arugula—Necessities

  • Containers—Even the most limited of container gardens still have a good opportunity with growing arugula. A container with at least eight inches depth and six inches in diameter should be chosen for a single arugula plant.
  • Soil—Although arugula is adapted to grow in a variety of soils, the best results and most productive plants will come from quality soil. Ideally, an organic, composted and well draining soil should be used.
  • Sunlight—Arugula does best when it is allowed to receive at least six hours of direct sunlight. It is also crucial to point out that arugula tends to suffer under the intense heat of the afternoon sunlight, so it is best to position your plants where they'll be able to gain access to full morning sun and shade in the afternoon.

Growing Arugula from Seed

The first thing to decide before your start growing arugula is which variety to plant. As a rule of thumb, plants with marrow, sharply “spiked” leaves have a more pungent mustard taste than those with broader, more rounded ones.

Some suggestions, ranked by flavor from mildest to strongest:

  • “Astro”
  • “Garden Tangy”
  • “RedDragon”
  • “Rocket” (the most common supermarket variety)
  • “Wasabi” (the name speaks for itself!)

Planting requirements for all arugula varieties are the same. Because it’s a fast-growing cool-weather vegetable, you can direct sow the seeds in early spring after the daytime temperature settles above 40 degrees F.

Choose a location with well-drained soil and from six to eight hours of daily sun. Before sowing, clear the planting site of debris and large rocks and cut back any grass or weeds. Then cover it with a 4-inch layer of well-rotted vegan compost .

Sprinkle your arugula seeds thinly over the compost’s surface, then tamp them down lightly with your hands. Cover the compost with a thin layer of vermiculite to help it drain freely and keep it from compacting.

Water the planting area well and continue watering as needed to keep it moist through the growing season. Watering with a fine spray is best streams of water create channels in the compost and may disturb the seeds.

Bolting arugula.

Arugula seedlings typically sprout within a week. After the first one appears, test your compost’s moisture level daily by sticking your finger into it.

If it feels or looks wet, don’t water. If it’s dry and powdery, the plants may “bolt” by directing their energy away from leaf production and into flowering. And water-stressed arugula leaves taste bitter!

Within a month to six weeks, the seedlings develop into rosettes of 2- to 3-inch leaves. To harvest the greens, snip them back to 1 inch from the surface of the compost.

Leave at least one leaf on each rosette to make the food it needs to grow a second crop of leaves.

Shade cloth. danielmee33 CC BY 2.0

In two or three weeks, you’ll have a second crop.

Repeat the harvesting process as long as the plants yield a decent number of leaves or until they bolt naturally with the onset of warm weather.

If you’re growing arugula, where summer is long and hot, protecting it with a shade cloth may give you one or two extra harvests.

If your arugula’s leaves look shot full of tiny holes, flea beetles are the culprits. Control them veganically with a companion planting of marigolds. The strong scent makes it harder for the beetles to home in on the arugula.


When to Grow Arugula

Arugula is amiable to cooler temperatures the best time to grow your arugula garden is in the early, cooler days of spring, or in later fall. Arugula is so fun to grow because it matures so quickly – typically within 4-7 weeks of planting.

For example, if you plant your arugula by the middle of March, you will most likely see your harvest in the months of April and May. A fall arugula crop can be planted in mid-summer.


Arugula

Arugula is a salad green also sold as rocket or by its French name, roquette. This member of the mustard family is truly a rocket: it germinates quickly — even in cold, wet soil — and grows rapidly. Full-sized plants are often ready to eat just a month after germination.

Arugula is an acquired taste. It has a smoky, peppery, complex flavor and scent that some even call skunky. To begin appreciating arugula's distinctive flavor, start by adding little pieces of leaves to regular salads. Before long you'll probably find yourself adding more and more leaves, and may eventually want nothing but arugula in your salads!

Arugula growing in a raised bed

There are a number of different types of arugula. In general, the thinner and spikier the leaves, the more peppery the flavor. Start arugula from seed outdoors directly in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked. Plant it just a quarter of an inch deep, covering it with a light layer of fine soil. Arugula is not fussy—it is only a slightly modified weed—so it will grow in most soils. It does best in rich soil with plenty of organic matter, and has its best flavor when it is not stressed by heat or lack of water.

Once summer arrives, arugula leaves quickly turn bitter and the plant shifts into flower production. When this happens, it's time to remove the plants and sow a new crop. Like most greens, it's difficult to grow arugula during the heat of summer. To maintain a continuous supply of young, tender leaves, sow a pinch of seeds somewhere in the garden every two or three weeks throughout the growing season. In late summer, sowing arugula under shade cloth will let you get plants established for a fall harvest. When cold weather comes, just cover the bed with Garden Quilt to get another month or more of good salads. In warmer zones, arugula can usually be grown as a winter crop without cover.

Flea beetles love to munch arugula, and can severely damage the leaves. Garden fabric (row cover) is the most effective solution.

Because arugula plants are relatively small and have compact root systems, you can plant them close together, or even in a pot. As leafy greens they have less need for full sun and will even grow in partial shade or where tall plants create shade. In hot regions afternoon shade is better than full sun, as the plants will not bolt as quickly.


Watch the video: Growing Arugula