Growing Arugula, planting, care and Harvesting – A Full Guide
Arugula which is scientifically called as Eruca is a green leafy vegetable. It can be used as an additive in soups, sandwiches, salads, pasta, and many other recipes. If you love to grow Arugula on your own, it is easy to do. For growing the arugula plant in a proper manner, you will be required to start the arugula seeds along with the preparation of the garden and then the transplantation of seeds. There will not be any problems with growing arugula as it can be grown in any normal garden soil.
Starting the Arugula seeds:
- The first thing you will have to do is to buy the common arugula seeds. There are two essential types of arugula seeds which you can purchase. They are common arugula and wild Italian arugula. Wild Italian Arugula is the one which has more amount of flavor, but it is quite tough to cook as it is stemmy and is prone to bolting quickly which will lead to a taste which is bitter. Ensure that you are getting the packets of common arugula if you need lush leaves which are easy to cook.
- The seeds have to be started at the time of starting stages of spring or autumn season. Arugula will be able to establish itself in an easy manner in the climatic conditions which are mild and cool. The seeds have to be started at the time of starting stages of spring and autumn so that the arugula growing temperature would be perfect when you are transplanting the seedlings into your garden.
- Fill the container which has cells with the light potting soil which is rich in terms of nutrients. Take a container which consists of separate cells from a garden center which is present in your locality or any of the home improvement stores. Ensure that each and every cell has a hole for drainage. Each cell has to be filled mostly with a light soil consisting of organic compost.
- The arugula seeds have to be planted in the cells present in the container. Put one seed or two seeds in each one of the cells and then you will have to sprinkle some amount of soil on the topmost layer of the seeds. The seeds have to be placed about a ¼ th inch beneath the soil surface.
- Watering has to be done on every alternate day for keeping the soil in a moist condition. In the starting, it is very much essential to maintain the seeds well watered. It is always perfect to water them on alternate days or whenever the top one inch of the soil looks dry when you touch with your fingers.
- Make sure that you are being careful regarding the overwatering of your plants. If there is waterlogging in the plants, there are chances of root rot which would take place very quickly.
- The cells have to be kept in the indoor locations in the sunlight until you see the plants to start sprouting. It is always best to keep the cell container in the indoor locations when you are waiting for them to sprout. This will prevent them from getting destroyed by harmful elements. The cell container has to be placed closer to a window so that the seeds in the cell container would get sufficient amount of sunlight or make use of a grow light which is standard or any of the incandescent light bulb to get some additional amount of light.
- The seeds will take about a week for sprouting.
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Sowing Arugula Seeds into the soil:
- You can go ahead with the plantation of Arugula when there is no danger coming from frost. You can also go with the plantation of Arugula for the harvest at the time of summer or spring. At the time of spring, you can sow arugula seeds directly into the soil present in your garden after the danger coming from frost has gone, so you will have to wait until the time of the last frost.
- As the commencement of autumn takes place, the plantation of arugula can be done prior to 1 month or 1 ½ month of the first frost which will let you harvest arugula before the climatic conditions become colder.
- When you are sowing arugula seeds in rows, then they have to be sown at a distance of 1 foot from each other. Plenty of seeds have to be sprinkled in each and every individual row. After the sprouting of seeds takes place, the seedlings have to be thinned in such a way that they are at a distance of 5 inches from each other. This will let the plant to have a sufficient amount of space for growth.
- You can also make use of the seedlings which are thinned out for making a salad.
- New seeds have to be sown for every 15 to 20 days. This will help the growers to get harvest continuously mainly at the time of the growing season. Arugula plants generally have the ability to get harvested after 1 month of the plantation.
- The growing season of the arugula plant typically ranges from the end of the spring to the end of the summer or to the early stages of autumn based on the date of the first frost.
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Preparation of the garden for growing Arugula:
- Select a location in your garden which would receive at least six hours of sunlight on a daily basis. Arugula is the plant which will grow at its best when it gets an adequate amount of direct sunlight, but it will not be able to tolerate the climatic conditions which are warmer. So, you will have to search for a place in your garden which will be able to get an adequate amount of direct sunlight all across the day time and will be somewhat shaded by the time of the afternoon.
- The soil which is present in your garden has to be enriched by adding some amount of organic material. Some of the organic materials you can consider adding are dead leaves and compost. This will also help the seedlings to adjust to the new atmosphere in a quick manner.
- Add some amount of perlite or organic material for increasing the drainage. For the arugula plants to survive, it is very important to see if the soil drains well. If the soil in your garden seems to be restored too much amount of moisture, you will have to go ahead with the addition of organic material or perlite to the soil. This will lead to an improvement in drainage.
- The dirt has to be raked. The soil in your garden has to be raked in a gentle manner so that it would be uniform and free from any of the rocks which are big in terms of size, clods of dirt or sticks. Ensure that you are raking an area in your garden which will measure a minimum of about 2×3 feet.
- You will have to then make small holes at a distance of 15 inches from each other. Make use of a small hand shovel which is generally used for gardening for digging holes as possible depending on the seedlings you have. Make them to the depth of the cells. Each and every hole should be at a distance of 14 inches from each other.
Transplantation of the arugula seedlings:
- The seedlings have to be watered in their cells just before you are going ahead with the transplantation. It would be easy for you to do the transition.
- The container has to be flipped and the seedlings have to be pulled out. Now, you will have to turn the cell container slowly and in a careful manner upside down. Now, the seedlings have to be pulled out in a gentle manner without causing any sort of damage to them or without even separating them from the soil.
- The seedlings have to be kept in the holes which you have dug so that the soil surface will match up. Push some amount of soil available in your garden towards every plant for making sure that all the gaps are filled and there is support for seedlings.
- As a final step, the seedlings have to be watered as soon as the transplantation of all of them is done. Now your arugula would be ready for harvesting within a month once the leaves reach the length of 4 inches.
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Growing Arugula in pots:
- Growing Arugula in pots is simple. This is because of the shallow roots of arugula, you will not need a container which is deep and large for its growth. Select a container which is wide enough. Though you can consider growing arugula in anything, a container which would be able to self water will make the growing of arugula easier.
- Like most of the salad greens, the seeds of arugula are also tiny. So, you will have to be very careful when you are planting them and make sure that you are not planting them at too much depth. The pot has to be kept in full sun for a longer time. At the mid of the day, make sure that your arugula is under partial shade.
- The pot has to be filled with potting soil medium and then, flatten the soil in a gentle manner making use of your hand.
- Start the distribution of seeds in an even manner into the potting soil medium.
- By making use of your palm, pat the seeds onto the soil in a gentle manner.
- The seeds have to be covered in a light manner by making use of the potting soil medium or you can also consider putting a thin layer of seed starting mix on the seeds and then pat them again in a gentle manner.
- Water has to be added in a careful manner by making use of a gentle spray from the hose. Make sure that you are not allowing any water pressure to cause disturbance to the seeds and make them go deeper into the soil.
- The soil has to be kept moist in a uniform manner until you see the emergence of seedlings which will take up to 1 to 2 weeks. When you see that the seedlings have reached a length of 2 inches, you will have to thin them in such a way that they are at a distance of at least 2 inches from each other.
How to harvest Arugula:
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- The Arugula has to be harvested when it has reached a height of 6 inches. Once it reached this specific height, then it would be old enough for harvest. The arugula plant will take approximately one month to 1 ½ month to reach a height of 6 inches.
- Most of the people will love the taste of the tiny leaves much better as they will not be spicy. So if you want the taste of the leaves to be better and milder, then you will have to harvest them when they are at a height of 2 to 3 inches.
- The arugula leaves which are smaller are the ones which can be considered for salads or garnishes as they taste great.
- The Arugula leaves which are longer and larger will be spicier. The longer and larger the leaves are, the spicier their taste. So pick off the leaves which are large at the edges of the arugula plant to add some amount of spiciness to your dishes.
- You can also consider adding the larger leaves to your salads and cook them like you generally cook spinach. You can also consider adding them to your soups.
- While few people prefer using their fingers to pinch off the leaves from the arugula where the leaves meet the stem, few people prefer using a gardening tool. You can make use of garden scissors which are sharp to have an easy cut of the leaves or you can also make use of a bread knife which is serrated for the removal of leaves.
- The scissors or knife have to be washed after the harvest of arugula is done.
- It is always fine if you are harvesting all the arugula leaves or even the complete plant, but if you are interested to maintain the arugula plant even after the harvest, it is always better to remove ¼th or ⅓ rd of the plant material so that there would be adequate amount of plant to grow and also for replacement. This will maintain the health of the arugula plant and keeps it surviving. Arugula plant is an annual and the plant will keep on producing the leaves after the actual leaves have been removed.
- The flowers of Arugula plant will be white in color. As soon as these flowers are grown on the plant, the arugula leaves will start tasting more bitter once they are picked. So always try harvesting arugula before you see the appearance of flowers on it.
- The flowers have to be picked immediately you see their formation on the plant.
- The flowers of arugula can also be consumed if you wish to.
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- The arugula leaves have to be rinsed by putting them under running water which is clean. Keeping the arugula leaves in a colander will be better or you can also consider keeping them in a simple bowl too. Put the arugula leaves under slow running water and move them around so that all the dirt which is present on the arugula is completely washed off.
- Now, you will have to dry the rinsed arugula leaves by making use of a paper towel. For this, you will have to spread two paper towels which are clean on a counter. The leaves have to be placed on these paper towels and you will have to dry them in a gentle manner by pressing the paper towel on to the leaves. The leaves have to be blotted until they are completely dry.
- If you are having a salad spinner with you, it would work well for drying the arugula leaves.
- Make use of a paper towel which is clean and dry to keep the leaves. You can also make use of clean cloth in place of paper towel. The arugula leaves have to be stacked on top of each other in a gentle manner while you are folding them in a paper towel. You can also keep the paper towel in a plastic bag for storing them for a long time.
- The plastic bags which are perforated will work very well as the air will be able to reach the arugula leaves.
- The leaves of arugula will last for a long time when the climatic conditions are colder, that is up to 4°C. The crisper drawer which would be present in the refrigerator is the one which works well for the storage of arugula leaves, but you can also consider placing them on one of the shelves of the refrigerator if required.
- After the completion of 10 days or if the environment in the refrigerator is too cold, the arugula will start wilting and the leaves turn yellow in color along with the formation of Brown spots. Though the arugula would be able to last for up to 10 days, its flavor will be at its best for one week. Make sure that you are not freezing Arugula.
Facts about growing Arugula:
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- The seeds of Arugula have to be kept moist if you want them to sprout within a time span of 4 to 6 days. Make sure that you are not making the soil wet. The seedlings have to be thinned so that there is a distance of a minimum of 4 inches in between the plants. To get a continuous harvest of arugula, you will be required to go with the plantation of more seeds for every 15 to 20 days.
- You can start sowing the seeds of arugula at the end of summer to get a harvest for autumn or in the early stages of winter. Plant at a depth of ¼ th inch and at a distance of at least 10 inches from each other. As an alternative, the arugula seeds can be broadcasted alone or you can also combine them with other types of greens.
- Arugula can also be grown in the indoor locations if provided with sufficient amount of space. They will grow up to a height of 2 feet in a small pot. This would be sufficient for salads. Plant the seeds of arugula in the top layer of the potting soil medium. You will have to start the seeds in the early stages of summer.
- The seeds of the arugula can be directed at the time of spring as soon as the soil is prepared or you can also start the seeds indoors prior to 3 months of the last frost which appears at the time of spring. Arugula will grow at its best when the climatic conditions are cool at the time of spring and autumn.
- There will be the formation of tiny seed pods across the stem. These are edible and can be consumed fresh. But be aware that these would be too spicy and they have a radish flavor which is strong. After that, the entire plant will start turning brown.
- Arugula sprouts can be grown to get a green vegetable which is fresh and healthy all across the year. You can also harvest the sprouts when they are young, immediately after the first germination of seeds in the growing stage. Arugula is an annual plant which has a spicy flavor.
- Arugula has to be planted in full sun in a soil which is fertile and drains well. Like any other herb which will require to grow green leaves, arugula will be benefitted by compost or any fertilizer. Watering has to be done when the soil becomes dry. Then, you can enjoy the flavor of arugula which is seasonal and also unique.
- Most of the herbs and leafy greens get benefitted from cutting back for every few weeks. Arugula can be considered as one of those leafy greens which grow well when there is a good cut back. Arugula is a self-sowing plant, that means if you allow it to flower and release its seeds, it will grow on a regular basis.
- When you consume arugula when it is raw, it would give your body healthy isothiocyanates. They will not be available when you eat arugula which is cooked. Anyways, by consuming arugula which is cooked in a light manner, your body will be able to absorb more amount of specific nutrients and carotenoids than when it is consumed raw.
- If you let the leaves of arugula to mature for too long when they are on the arugula plant, they will get bitter in terms of taste. The flavor of arugula will be pungent because of glucosinolates which consist of a high content of sulfur.
- Arugula is an annual which belongs to the family of broccoli and cabbage. It is mostly used as an ingredient in salads which are mixed with lettuces and cabbages. It will give a sharp and peppery flavor to the salads. But, in the ancient times, arugula is termed as “Rocket” and it is considered to be a herb which is used for medicinal purposes and also in salads.
- Arugula companion plants are carrots, beets, dill, cucumber, bush beans, mint, onions, thyme, spinach, nasturtium, rosemary. Make sure that you are not planting Arugula with strawberries.
- Like most of the leafy greens, growing arugula hydroponically is also possible in the controlled environments so that it can be produced all across the year.
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