Maybe you heard of the superfood everyone in the gym is talking about. You are wondering what is their secret super-healthy smoothie ingredient that was picked 10 minutes ago and which can grow incredibly fast.


You are right; that is arugula, full of energy, fast-growing, harvest as you need, and beginner-friendly vegetable for growing.


In this article, you will learn how to grow arugula, a delicious, nutritious green leafy annual vegetable that can be used in salads or cooked as a side dish.

What is Arugula?

Arugula (Eruca sativa) is a peppery leafy green vegetable with a mild taste and spicy bite. Its flavor comes from its seeds, which have a hint of nuttiness. Like other salad greens, arugula can be grown year-round in most climates. It’s easy to grow with a low-maintenance plant that doesn’t require much attention and tastes excellent on salads, pizza, pasta, and sandwiches.

arugula leaves fresh picked 1

Why is Arugula Called a Rocket in Europe?

In European history, the word “rocket” describes the specialty and delicacy of wild plants growing in the Mediterranean region.
Arugula, actually called roquette in France, is an edible vegetable from the brassica family of plants, and the garden rocket is an English version of that French word. It is also known as rucola in Italy and radicchio in Spain.

Why You Should Grow Arugula?

Consider growing arugula in your vegetable garden because it has superfood benefits on overall health and is loaded with many nutrients.
It is a fast-growing, easy-to-maintain salad green that will surprise you with peppery flavor in perfect pizza sandwiches.

The best thing is that you can harvest rocket leaves all year round and always have fresh, healthy boost dose ready. Vitamin K, C, A, folate, potassium, and calcium are some nutrients where this magic plant stands out.

It is also a great vegetable to grow in small and urban gardens, which are limited in size and space. Still, the main reason why we love it is its versatility. It can be added to many dishes and goes well with plenty of ingredients. You can even use it in smoothies to add extra nutrition to your fitness diet.

How to Grow Arugula?

Growing your own leafy green is a great way to add variety to your meals and a healthy alternative to the salad greens you can buy in stores. When you grow your own vegetable, you can choose the types you like best and control the number of nutrients and pesticide residues you eat.

Growing it, in your own garden is simple, and you don’t need much work to start. All you need is some seeds and a little space to grow them in.
You can start growing by planting seeds direct in your garden. If you don’t have a garden, you can start to grow arugula indoors and later put pots or containers on the balcony.

When and How to Plant?

You can grow arugula year-round, but it is most successful to plant it in spring and fall. In the summertime, leaves become more bitter cause hot temperatures trigger flowering. Flowers are edible, too, and many people love that spicy kick, peppery flavor.

The best time to start sowing seeds is in early spring.

When planting, keep in mind that arugula loves the direct sunlight but, during the summer, will tolerate light shade. It is also a frost-tolerant plant and will grow well in cooler climates as long as temperatures don’t drop below freezing.

You can make new plantings every 2 weeks until fall or a month before the first frost for a continuous arugula supply.

baby arugula direct seeded

Sow Seed

Sow arugula seed directly where it will be planted outdoors, about 2 weeks before the last frost date in spring. You can also start earlier by planting seeds indoors for about 4 to 6 weeks before the last frost date. Plant seeds in containers, pots, or seeding trays, and then transplant the seedlings when they reach 3 inches tall.

After germination, which happens in 4 to 10 days, it’s essential to keep the soil slightly moist but not wet, avoid watering the seedlings directly. When the ground has reached 4.5°C (40°F), you can transplant them to their final positions.

Space them 6 inches apart and 15 inches between rows. Arranging the plants slightly off-center to the sun’s direction will help them stay upright. Once established, the plants can be cut back to maintain the desired shape and size.

Soil  

Arugula can be grown in most soils as long as the soil is well-drained. Keep the soil moist but not soggy, and don’t let the ground get too cold. A soil pH of 6.1–6.7 is ideal but will tolerate various conditions. To help keep the soil from turning acidic, add compost, manure, or a lime-based fertilizer.

Although arugula can grow in almost any soil type, it performs best when grown in a well-drained garden bed.

Watering

For optimal growth, arugula should be watered daily or every other day. A good time to water is right after sunrise, while the soil is still damp. Wait until the evening, and the leaves will absorb the moisture.

Arugula needs about twice as much watering as lettuce. Watering once every two days should suffice, but you will need to water more often in dry climates. Remember to keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy.

growing arugula in containers

Fertilizing

Arugula is not a heavy feeder, so apply fertilizer only just if there is a problem. Otherwise, leave plants alone until they show signs of a second or third set of leaves.

If you notice plants have small leaves and starting to become yellow, the soil is probably not sufficiently amended. In that case, a soil test would be advisable, and you can fertilize with a 10-10-10 balance of organic fertilizer and water regularly.

When and How to Harvest Arugula?

Harvesting arugula is easy because the plant is ready to harvest in 40 days, and you can pick leaves all year long. Cut the stem where the leaf node meets the stem. Then gently pull up the leaf to gather it into a bunch. Cut the plants down at ground level or up to one inch above the soil surface.

That will allow the rocket to continue to grow but ensure the plant will not dry out.

Make sure to leave the center of the plant and some leaves attached to keep the plant healthy. The greens should be fresh and crisp and should look bright green and vibrant, and the leaves can be used immediately. After picking and washing can be stored for up to a week in the refrigerator in a plastic bag.

growing arugula in garden

Companion Plants

Companion planting improves the growth and health of plants by growing them together.

Arugula’s ideal companions are cool-season greens like lettuce, spinach, and bush beans. It is also an excellent companion to root vegetables like carrots, beets, onions, and celery.

You can also plant it near herbs like dill, chives, mint, rosemary, and thyme, which will repel pests from the your garden.

Avoid planting arugula with strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes, causing these plants to prefer more acidic soil. Growing them together can result in poor growth for both plants.

Common Problems 

While arugula is a fast-growing plant, it is also susceptible to many pests such as aphids, thrips, spider mites, flea beetles, and leafminers. Because these pests can reduce the crop yield, it is best to remove them from the plants.

  • Downy mildew and powdery mildew are fungal diseases that can make you problems. Both are found on leafy greens, so it would be advisable to wash your greens thoroughly before consuming them.
  • Bacterial leaf spot is a fungal disease that can infect your vegetables. It is a symptom of a wet leaf that turns red, orange, or brown and can be found anywhere on the plant.

Some facts

  • Arugula is a cool-season annual and is often grown as a cover crop to protect soil from erosion and provide nutrients to soil-building microbes.
  • The leaves are often eaten as a snack. They’re also used in salads and are often paired with tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions.
  • It has been grown for more than 2,000 years and was first cultivated in ancient Rome.
  • Ancient Romans banned the arugula from monastery gardens because of the plant’s aphrodisiac properties.

arugula salad

Conclusion

In conclusion, arugula is a member of the mustard brassica family, along with broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and turnips. Still, it is a close relative of the spinach and lettuce families. Arugula is high in nutrients and has a mild, peppery flavor with slightly bitter taste flowers. It is best when fresh and young, so pick leaves with bright, vibrant colors. You can harvest leaves at any time of year but is especially easy to grow in the spring.

Arugula is an excellent source of vitamin K, A, C, folate, potassium, and calcium, which gives it the superfood title. The health benefits of a garden rocket can lower the risk of cancer, diabetes and prevent osteoporosis. It will also help you burn fat, regulate metabolism and increase muscle mass, making it the perfect rocket fuel for preparing healthy smoothies. As arugula is fast-growing and can be harvested year-round, it is an excellent choice for small urban gardens.

Frequently asked questions

Are Arugula Flowers Edible?

Yes, flowers are edible as long as they are picked before the plant goes to seed. If the petals are left on the plant, they will dry out and fall off. Blossoms have a more spicy, peppery flavor than leaves.

Why Does the Arugula Plant Have Spines Growing all Over it?

The leaves of the arugula plant can have a natural defense mechanism that acts as a deterrent to insects and other pests. These spines are actually modified leaves that grow all over the plant. The plant uses its own natural defense system to protect itself from pests and other animals. Spikes grow when the plant reaches maturity and don’t have any soil in the pot left for further expansion. To avoid arugula becoming uneatable, harvest leaves sooner and don’t leave mature leaves to grow after the plant reach maturity.

Is Arugula Lettuce?

Arugula is not lettuce but a member of the mustard or brassica family. It’s often used as a substitute for lettuce in sandwiches and salads. Leaves are mildly peppery in flavor and are used to substitute for basil or cilantro in Mexican, Thai, and other Asian dishes.

Is Arugula Healthy?

Arugula is often recommended as a part of an overall healthy diet because it contains some of the best nutrients. It is healthy because it includes some of the highest amounts of vitamin C, especially when compared to other greens such as kale, collard greens, and turnip greens. In fact, rocket provides 50% of your daily requirement for vitamin K. Arugula is packed with phytonutrients and antioxidants that help the body fight off infections and diseases, including cancer. It is also a great source of vitamin K and fiber.