Want to grow your own salad in the garden? If you do, consider planting arugula. This peppery, leafy green can be made into delicious salads. Whether you are a beginner gardener who just started gardening or an expert with many years of experience, planting arugula is easy. Our how to grow arugula guide here will guide you through the process.
We will start our guide with a brief introduction so you get to know what arugula is. Then, we will explain how to plant arugula from seeds, caring, and maintenance. The last sections will be for harvest, storing, common pests and diseases, and some useful growing tips that you can try. Ready? Let’s start now.
- 1 About Arugula
- 2 Cultivars to Grow
- 3 How to Grow Arugula: Seeding
- 4 How to Grow Arugula: Caring and Maintenance
- 5 How to Grow Arugula: Harvesting and Storing
- 6 How to Grow Arugula: Common Pests and Diseases
- 7 Growing Tips
Let’s start our how to grow arugula guide with a brief introduction. Eruca vesicaria, more popularly known as arugula, is a leafy green that has a peppery flavor. Due to its flavor, it is commonly added to salad mixes. In general, arugula grows best in cool weather but there are cultivars better suited for hot weather (like Garden Tangy, for example).
Arugula is very easy to grow. Including even if you are a beginner gardener who just got started. In fact, arugula can be a great first-time plant. Not only it is easy to grow, but it also grows quickly. How quick? Very. You can harvest the young leaves in just a few weeks after planting seeds.
Arugula isn’t picky when it comes to where it is grown. You can grow it in the ground in your garden. You can grow it in a container. That’s up to you. Growing arugula in a container is different only when it comes to watering as containers tend to dry quickly. Other than that, the growing process is the same.
Cultivars to Grow
Before we delve into how to grow arugula, there is something you need to know first. That is, there are plenty of arugula cultivars to grow. Arugula comes in various characteristics. Some cultivars are spicier than others. Some others, have better heat tolerance, making them easy to grow in hot weather areas. Here are four of the most common cultivars.
If you just want to try growing arugula in the garden, the most familiar and common cultivar is your best option. Rocket cultivar is the classic variety and can be found easily in supermarkets and restaurants. Rocket cultivar has a crisp and peppery flavor. The leaves are serrated. This cultivar likes cool weather.
2. Wall Rocket
Want to grow arugula to make for an incredible garnish? Look no further than Wall Rocket or wild arugula variety, then. Compared to other cultivars, this one has a more refined flavor and is also less bitter. Unlike standard Rocket cultivar, Wall Rocket grows quite well even during warm weather.
3. Garden Tangy
Arugula in general likes cool weather. Not surprisingly, it can be difficult to grow in areas with hot weather. Do you live in an area with hot weather? Don’t be discouraged yet. Some arugula cultivars like Garden Tangy has better heat tolerance than other cultivars. Coming from Italy, Garden Tangy is used to the Mediterranean climate which is hot.
4. Slow Bolt
Some gardeners grow arugula for its flavor. If you are one of these gardeners, consider growing Slow Bolt cultivar. This cultivar produces leaves that have an almost spicy taste. The leaves are also fuller and wider, making it an incredible ingredient for various dishes. If you want to add flavor to your salad, Slow Bolt is the best for you.
5. Red Dragon
When talking about arugula, you probably thinking about a leafy green. Red Dragon, however, is not your ordinary arugula. It has a colorful selection, bringing a more attractive look than a green pallet. It has toothed leaves that look like oak-leaf. Red Dragon grows best in cool weather so the best time to plant it either in spring or fall.
How to Grow Arugula: Seeding
Now let’s start our how to grow arugula guide. The first thing to do is to prepare the planting beds. Alternatively, you can grow arugula in a container. Don’t worry, we explain how to do both.
How to grow arugula in the ground:
- Arugala likes well-drained soil that has rich humus content. However, arugula is forgiving and not picky. It can tolerate various soil conditions.
- You can immediately plant arugula in spring once the soil can be worked.
- If you want to harvest in fall or early winter, sow arugula seeds in late summer.
- Plant in rows. Within each row, each seed should be planted a quarter-inch deep. Leave about 1-inch space in-between seeds.
- Water and keep the soil moist
- The seeds should germinate in 7 to 14 days.
- If you want a continuous harvest, sow new arugula seeds with 2 to 3 weeks intervals.
How to grow arugula seed in containers:
- Prepare growing containers. Since arugula has shallow roots, large or deep containers are not necessary. Just be sure that each and every container can contain each plant until harvest.
- Fill the containers with potting mix. Use your hand to press the potting mix and flatten them. Do this gently.
- Broadcast the arugula seeds as uniformly as you can.
- Pat the seeds gently onto the soil using your palm.
- Cover the seeds lightly with potting soil. If you prefer, you can add a thin layer of seed-starting mix over the seeds. Pat the seeds gently.
- Water the seeds carefully. A gentle spray using a hose should be enough. Avoid disturbing the seeds or pushing them into the soil.
That’s how to grow arugula in the ground and containers. When it comes to light, arugula prefers full sun to partial shade. So whether you are growing the seeds in the ground or containers, be sure that they at least get partial shade. If possible, designate a place where they can get full sun.
How to Grow Arugula: Caring and Maintenance
The next section in our how to grow arugula guide is for caring and maintaining. When it comes to caring and maintenance for arugula, there are three things to do:
- Keeping the soil evenly moist.
- Thinning out the seedlings so the plants are about 1-3 inches apart from each other.
- Arugula doesn’t like heat and it can suffer from heat stress. Due to this, provide your plants with some shade if you are planting in the warm season.
That’s how to grow arugula. It is as simple as it gets. Prepare well-drained soil with rich humus content, thin them out, provide shade when the weather is hots, and water well from start to finish. That’s all about it. In time, you will be rewarded with amazing yields of arugula.
How to Grow Arugula: Harvesting and Storing
Our how to grow arugula guide wouldn’t be complete if we don’t tell you how to harvest this spicy leafy green. As we said in the beginning, you can start harvesting the young leaves as soon as they are a few weeks old. Some gardeners young leaves to have the best flavor, but to each his own.
Arugula typically flowers and go bolt quickly, especially in hot temperature. Once they go to flower or go bolt, the leaves will become bitter and bitter, thus unsuitable to be eaten. This is why harvesting earlier is better than later. Keep this in mind especially if you live in a region with a hot temperature.
How to harvest arugula is just as simple as how to grow arugula. The harvesting process goes more or less like this:
- Cut or pluck individual arugula leaves. Pick a few leaves from each plant. Don’t pick more than a third from each plant.
- If you see the plants show signs of bolting or they become too crowded, pull up the entire plant at once. This way, you enjoy the harvest while leaving enough space for the other plants.
- If you want a milder flavor, pick the younger leaves.
- If you want a sharper, stronger taste, pick the older leaves.
- Other than the leaves, you can also harvest the white flower that arugula grows. Similar to the leaves, the flower also has a sharp spicy flavor. They make an excellent garnish.
Now you know how to grow arugula and how to harvest it. Next, we will tell you how to store the leaves that you harvest. Here’s how the storing process goes:
- You can place fresh leaves inside the refrigerator. This will keep the leaves fresh for up to 10 days. To store the leaves, prepare a perforated plastic bag and paper towel. Wrap the leaves with a paper towel, put them into the bag, and place it inside the crisper drawer.
- Alternatively, you can freeze the leaves in the ice cube trays. To store the leaves, wash the leaves thoroughly and cut them down so they fit the trays. Pour olive oil to cover them and then freeze. Leave a bit of space in each cube to allow for expansion. Thaw the cubes when needed.
How to Grow Arugula: Common Pests and Diseases
Knowing how to grow arugula is important. So is knowing the common pests and diseases that may affect arugula. If you know these before you plant arugula, you will be better prepared and equipped in case any of pests or diseases trouble your arugula plants. Check your arugula plants regularly for common pests and diseases below.
Common pests that can affect arugula are cabbage loopers, flea beetles, birds, and slugs.
- Cabbage loopers
These small green pests eat their way through arugula leaves. The longer they feed on the plant, the more damaging they become. Use floating row covers to prevent the moths from laying eggs on your plants. To control them, you can remove them by handpicking or sprinkle your plants with diatomaceous earth.
- Flea beetles
The damage that flea beetles can be as mild as small holes in the leaves and as bad as the destruction of the affected plant. Unfortunately, spotting these flea beetles can be difficult due to their size. If you do spot these tiny pests, you can control them by sprinkling diatomaceous earth or grow arugula with marigolds.
Birds do enjoy arugula as snacks, unfortunately. To deter them, use the net or row covers.
Slugs like to eat arugula, causing large holes in the plants. As they are damaging, you need to control them. To control slugs by sprinkle diatomaceous earth around your arugula plants.
Two of the most prevalent diseases in arugula is leaf blight and downy mildew.
- Leaf blight
Leaf blight is caused by a bacterial infection. Two of the signs of the infection are the yellowing of the leaves or wet brown spots on arugula foliage. To reduce the likelihood of leaf blight, water directly at the base of the plants. As for affected plants, immediately remove them and rotate crops.
- Downy mildew
Mold growing underneath the plant or flecks on the leaves can be signs of downy mildew. To prevent this disease, thin out the plants and water directly at the base of the plants. If there are any infected plants, remove them immediately.
- As our how to grow arugula has shown above, the plant can tolerate various types of soil. If you want your arugula to grow optimally, prepare well-drained soil with rich humus content for the seeds to grow in.
- Arugula can be harvested very quickly. Even just a few weeks after planting the seeds, they can be harvested.
- Like any other garden plants, thinning out is necessary when growing in the ground. Don’t throw away thinned out young arugula plants, though. Instead, cook them into delicious peppery garnish or salads.
- Arugula is neither demanding nor picky. You can grow it with little difficulty if you know how to grow arugula. That being said, it needs to be watered regularly and consistently. To ensure the best growth and satisfying yields, keep your arugula plants well-watered.
- Arugula grows very quickly. In case your arugula is damaged or suffers from pests or diseases, you can remove them and reseed. Now that you know how to grow it, that should be a cinch.
As our how to grow arugula guide has shown, growing arugula is not difficult. That’s right, regardless of your experience of gardening. Being an easy-to-grow vegetable is among the best things about arugula. The other is that it can be used for many dishes, thanks to its rather peppery flavor.