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Growing Arugula Leaves (Rocket Lettuce)

I love arugula leaves, and they’re super easy and fast to grow

Arugula is an acquired taste as the leaves can be spicy, but many people love it. This green grows super fast, ready in 45 days for larger leaves but you can also harvest baby leaves earlier than that.

Arugula is also called rocket and often grows wild in many areas.

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How to grow arugula leaves

Arugula is a cool season crop and does best with cooler temperatures. The hotter the weather, the higher chance the plants will bolt and flower. You can sow arugula 4-6 weeks before your last frost until the days start to get too hot in May. I always succession plant arugula to spread out the harvests ( learn more about growing greens year-round).

You can also underplant arugula under taller plants like beans, peas or tomatoes to offer it some shade from the hot sun.

Arugula is cold hardy and excellent in the fall and winter garden. Sow again later in the summer until 4-6 weeks before your fall frosts or later with hoop tunnels as season extenders.

I always leave some arugula flowers for the bees in the early summer and often save the seeds

Arugula is easy to grow, but as a leafy green it appreciates some nitrogen in the soil.

Add some aged manure and/or compost to your bed before planting. Keep your arugula watered, especially during drought. You can sow densely for baby leaves, but arugula won’t grow larger leaves unless they have enough space. I tend to sow some crops for baby greens then thin out the seedlings  to allow the plants to grow larger after about 3 weeks.

My fav rocket variety is ‘Astro’. One variety I’m looking forward to trying this year is called ‘dragons tongue’ from west coast seeds

Dragons tongue harvest

Saving Arugula (rocket) seeds

Many greens like lettuce and arugula will self pollinate and seeds can be easily saved. Saving seeds does take up garden space, and you’ll need to leave at least 20 plants for genetic diversity. Because arugula flowers are white and pretty and the bees like them so much, I leave a patch of arugula to self-sow and it often re sprouts later in the fall or the following spring.

The flowers will create green pods which then dry and become brown over a couple of months

Once the pods are dry I harvest a bunch and place a paper bag over them and gently crush the bag to separate the seeds from the pod. You can separate the left over dry plant matter from the seeds and compost them. Store seeds in a cool dry place.

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