photo credit: Mike the Gardener
|What? You haven’t had an arugula salad mixed with walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette? You don’t know what you are missing. Make that arugula from your own garden and the flavor is out of this world.
Arugula is a member of the mustard family and is a sturdy leafy vegetable that tolerates cold weather very well. In fact, arugula is a great choice for cold frame gardening. Arugula’s pointed, lance shaped leaves carry with them a strong aroma and an almost peppery flavor.
arugula recipes that use this tasty vegetable in other ways. Even easier than eating arugula, is growing arugula.
WHEN AND WHERE TO PLANT ARUGULAArugula loves rich soil, so be sure to mix in plenty of compost into the area where you will be planting your arugula. Because arugula is easy to grow, and cold weather tolerant, sow seeds directly into your garden or containers. Yes, arugula, as with most leafy greens, is a great vegetable to grow in containers.
I have found the flavor of arugula is best in early spring and late fall, although harvesting some crisp cold arugula leaves from a cold frame has wonderful flavor as well.
ARUGULA SEED SPACING, DEPTH AND DAYS TO GERMINATIONDirectly sowing arugula seeds is the easiest option since arugula tolerates most weather. If your ground can be worked, you can plant arugula seeds. Although, I will admit, I have had much better success when I warm the soil up just a bit. I do this by placing a plastic tarp over the soil, during the day, for a couple of hours.
When sowing your arugula seeds, space them out six to eight inches. I have grown them closer, but it can get overgrown and hard to trim back when it comes harvest time. In my opinion anyway. Let me know in the comment section below how you made out by planting your arugula closer.
Arugula seeds are on the smaller side so you won’t need to plant them very deep. A quarter to a half inch deep into your soil is all you will need. If your soil is very friable you can go a bit deeper if you think a watering or two will bring the seed to the top, which can happen on ocaision.
You can expect your arugula seeds to germinate in seven to ten days. Although if you hydrate your seeds first for a few hours, you can get them to germinate a little faster.
WHEN CAN I HARVEST THE ARUGULAArugula, like most other leafy green vegetables, can be harvested as you need it or as you would like to consume it. I’ll get more into harvesting in a moment, but for now, you can expect your arugula to be ready for harvest in as little as 45 days. You can let your arugula grow longer as you will see how in a moment under the harvesting section. But the 45 to 60 time frame is when your arugula will be ready. As always, time may vary based on your growing zone.
HARVESTING YOUR ARUGULATender arugula leaves will be ready for harvesting in roughly six to eight weeks (as noted above). You can harvest the entire arugula plant if you wish, but you will get far more production from your arugula plant if you harvest only what you are going to consume and then let the plant continue to grow. Simply snip off, with sharp scissors, as many leaves as you need. Try to take no more than half the plant and leave the central leaf buds for additional growth. Doing this will allow you to harvest arugula for a longer period of time.
FINAL NOTES: WATERING, FEEDING AND GENERAL CAREDo not overwater your arugula. Just water enough to keep the soil moist, not saturated. Spread some fresh compost around the base of your arugula plants every 4 to 6 weeks. This will keep your soil nice and rich.
Share your thoughts in the comment section below and don’t forget to listen to me weekly on the Vegetable Gardening Podcast.
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