Arugula: Care, Growing Guide, & Facts
Arugula Plant Description
Arugula (Eruca vesicaria) is a tasty salad green that grows quickly as an annual leafy vegetable in the Brassicaceae family. It has a slightly spicy and tangy flavour.
The leaves are highly lobed and range in length from 3 to 6 inches. They form rosettes as they mature.
Arugula may be sown in the early spring or late summer as a cold-season vegetable. They grow up to 2 to 3 feet tall and 1 to 1.5 feet wide, and are seen in the Mediterranean.
How To Plant Arugula?
i. When To Plant Arugula?
Approximately 40 days after sowing, arugula is ready to harvest. So, if you plan ahead, you may have two arugula seasons: one in the spring and early summer, and another in the late summer and early fall. It won’t grow well in the mid-summer heat.
As soon as the soil is malleable in the spring, you may begin planting. Sow new seeds every two to three weeks until the weather warms up in the summer or frost comes in the fall for a continuous crop.
ii. Selection of Planting Site
It’s best to plant in a sunny location with well-draining soil. Growing in a container is also a possibility. Pests and diseases that afflict the Brassicaceae family as a whole may persist in the soil, so avert planting where other members of the family have been in the previous year.
iii. Spacing, Depth, and Support
Seeds must be placed about a quarter inch deep and an inch apart in rows approximately a foot apart. Plants in nursery pots should be placed at the same depth as in their prior container. There will be no need for a support system.
How To Care Arugula?
Arugula thrives in full sun, which usually means at least six hours of direct sunshine every day. However, when the weather warms up, give some midday shade. This will help to keep the plants from withering and bolting, allowing you to get the most out of your harvest.
Arugula thrives on well-drained soil with a pH range of slightly acidic to neutral. They may grow in a wide range of soil types, but require a nutrient-rich loam.
For optimum development and flavour, arugula, like many other crops, requires frequent irrigation. Water as soon as the top inch of soil feels dry to keep the soil wet but not saturated.
This might involve watering every morning in arid conditions. If you don’t water your plants on a regular basis, they’ll bolt, and the flavour of the leaves will be ruined.
iv. Temperature and Humidity
Temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees, Fahrenheit are good for arugula. It can’t withstand frost and doesn’t enjoy the summer heat.
You may extend the growing season of arugula by covering it with row covers and shielding it from the sun. The ideal technique, though, is to plant it at the appropriate time.
It does not require high humidity and may thrive in desert locations if given enough water.
You might not have to feed your arugula unless you put it in nitrogen-rich soil. A shortage of nutrition is indicated by pale leaves. Before planting, add compost to your soil to improve it.
Arugula is a self-pollinator with the ability to cross-pollinate through insects and the wind.
Varieties of Arugula
Arugula varieties differ in flavour, colour, and other characteristics. Here are a few of our favourites:
1. Those who appreciate a moderate arugula flavour may enjoy ‘Astro II.’ In as little as seven weeks, this type develops.
2. Another mild variant is ‘Apollo.’ It has oval leaves and is relatively heat resistant.
3. Rucola Selvatica a Foglia D’Ulivo is how Italian speakers refer to ‘Olive Leaf.’ The leaves of this wild species are flat and thin, with a spicy but not overwhelming flavour.
4. With its beautiful purple-veined leaves that are fashioned like oak leaves and a moderate flavour, ‘Red Dragon’ is great for salads.
5. ‘Sylvetta’ is praised for her ability to bolt slowly. It has slender, pungent leaves.
Arugula vs Spinach
Arugula and spinach are frequently paired in salads, and despite their distinct flavours and textures, they’re frequently substituted for one another in dishes.
Arugula has a strong pepper flavour, but spinach is mild and slightly sweet. Spinach leaves are also larger than arugula leaves and lack the deep lobes that arugula leaves have.
Regardless of the type, your arugula should be completely developed and ready to harvest in four to seven weeks. Harvest the leaves once they reach around 3 inches in length.
Young leaves are soft and delicious, but as they age, they become harsh and bitter. If you want the plants to keep growing, only harvest the outer leaves by cutting or pulling them away from the base, leaving the crown alone.
Alternatively, if the weather is still mild, you can clip off all the leaves just above the soil and the plant may regenerate. Eat the blossoms but not the leaves if you wait too late to harvest them and the plant bolts.
After the leaves have grown to full size and are too bitter to eat, the blossoms appear. For a peppery taste, pluck them off and add them to a salad or sandwich. As quickly as possible, use fresh leaves. They may be kept in the fridge for up to a week.
Arugula in Containers
Arugula plants are compact and self-contained, making them ideal for container gardening. This is a practical technique to keep your plants close to your kitchen so you can pick them on a regular basis.
Containers also make it easier to transfer plants out of direct sunlight during the day when the weather warms, prolonging the growing conditions. You don’t need a particularly deep container because the roots are rather shallow.
A diameter of at least 6 inches and a depth of at least 6 inches should suffice. Check for drainage holes in the container.
Unglazed clay is an excellent medium for evaporating excess soil moisture via its walls. A self-watering container can also make maintenance much easier.
Arugula does not require any trimming other than frequent harvesting. However, if you see any damaged or diseased leaves, remove them as soon as possible to avoid the spread of the problem.
How To Propagate Arugula Plant?
Saving seeds is the most efficient way to grow arugula. This is a cost-effective and handy way to propagate your favourite types of plants. To prevent cross-pollination, ensure that different kinds are separated by at least 800 feet. Here’s how to keep seeds alive:
• Let your arugula plants blossom before harvesting the seed heads, which should become brown and brittle.
• Cut the seed heads from the plants and dry them thoroughly in a cool, dry place with excellent air movement.
• Rub the seed pods between your palms to release the small black seeds. Remove the rest of the plant materials. It’s easier to see and catch everything if you do it on a white sheet.
• Put the seeds in an enclosure or a jar to keep them safe. They should last for at least six years.
How To Grow Arugula From Seed?
Arugula is often grown from seed. One to two weeks before the last frost in the spring, it can be direct-seeded in the garden. Even at temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the seeds can germinate.
Cover the seeds lightly with dirt and keep the soil uniformly damp but not wet. Within a week, the seeds should germinate. Thin the seedlings to about 6 inches apart as they emerge, reserving the young greens you thin for consumption.
Arugula Potting and Repotting
For potting arugula, a good all-purpose, well-draining, organic potting mix should suffice. To prevent repotting and upsetting your plants as they quickly grow, aim to pot them in a container that is spacious enough for their mature size.
Because arugula is an annual, there is no need to overwinter it. If you can supply adequate light, you might be able to grow plants indoors during the winter. To augment natural sunshine, grow lights can be used.
Common Pests and Diseases in Arugula
Arugula plants are resistant to disease. However, bacterial leaf spot and powdery mildew are possible. Furthermore, because arugula has a short, early growth season, you’ll likely escape most insect infestations in the spring, but not if you plant again in late summer.
Slugs, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, aphids, and diamondback moths all like arugula plants. Keep a watch out for bug eggs and manually remove any that you find.
Aphids can be killed by spraying water on them. Use beer traps, diatomaceous earth, or any conventional approach to keep slugs away from the fragile foliage.