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How to Grow Arugula

Arugula is a cool-season leafy crop. Sow seed as early as 3 weeks before the last frost in spring,
Grow arugula
Arugula is a cool-season leafy crop. Sow seed as early as 3 weeks before the last frost in spring.

Arugula is a cool-weather crop. Sow arugula seed in the garden as early as 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Grow arugula in temperatures ranging from 45° to 65°F (10-18°C). Plant arugula so that it comes to harvest in cool weather.

Sow succession arugula crops every 2 to 3 weeks for a continuous harvest. If summers do not get very warm, continue planting until about a month before the average first frost date.

In hot summer regions where winters are mild, plant arugula in late autumn for harvest in winter and spring.

Yield. Grow 5 to 6 arugula plants per household member.

Planting Arugula

Site to Grow Arugula. Grow arugula in full sun; it will tolerate partial shade. Plant arugula in soil rich in aged compost. Add aged garden compost to planting beds before growing. Arugula prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.

Arugula growing in rowArugula Planting Time. Arugula is a hardy, cool-season annual grown best in spring and early summer in cold winter regions and in fall and winter in warm-winter regions. Sow arugula seeds in the garden as soon as the soil can be worked in spring, usually 2 to 3 weeks before the average date of the last frost in spring. Cool temperatures produce the sweetest tasting arugula. Grow arugula in temperatures ranging from 45° to 65°F (10-18°C). For best flavor and to avoid bolting, plant arugula so that it comes to harvest in cool weather. Arugula requires about 40 days to come to harvest depending upon the variety.

Arugula Planting and Spacing. Sow arugula seed ¼ inch (6mm) deep and 1 to 2 inches apart (2.5-5 cm) to start. Later, thin plants to 6 inches (15 cm) apart when the seedlings are 4 inches (10 cm)  tall. You can eat the thinnings. Space rows 12 to 18 inches (30-45 cm) apart. You can also broadcast arugula seed with other greens and harvest leaves when small.

More tips at Arugula Seed Starting Tips.

Companion plants for arugula. Greens. Not peas, beans, or strawberries. Arugula is a good choice for intercropping with larger crops.

Container Growing Arugula. Arugula can be grown in a container. Choose a container at least 6 inches deep to accommodate the roots.

Caring for Arugula

Water and Feeding Arugula. Keep plants evenly moist. Add aged compost to planting beds before planting and again at midseason.

Arugula Pests. Flea beetles can attack arugula. Cover plants with a floating row cover. Use yellow sticky traps to help control pests.

Arugula Diseases. Arugula has no serious disease problems.

Arugula harvest

Harvesting and Storing Arugula

Arugula Harvest. Arugula is ready for harvest 40 days after sowing. Pick young, tender leaves when they are when they are 2 to 5 inches (5-7.5 cm) long. Pick new leaves from the bottom of the plant. Clip individual leaves for cut-and-come-again harvest. New leaves will sprout from the center crown. Harvest whole plants by pulling out plants or cutting whole plant just above the root. Older leaves are more bitter flavored than young leaves.

More on arugula harvest and storage at How to Harvest and Store Arugula.

Storing and preserving. Arugula will keep in the refrigerator for 1 week.

Arugula Varieties to Grow

Arugula Varieties. ‘Astro’ and ‘Runway’ are early arugula varieties and very good growers. Also, try ‘Rocket’ and ‘Italian Wild Rustic.’

Common name. Arugula

Botanical name. Erica sativa

Origin. Southern Europe and Western Asia

More about arugula in the kitchen at Arugula: Kitchen Basics.

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