How to Grow Arugula
This fast-growing cool-season salad green - often ready to harvest as early as 4 weeks after seeding - adds a tangy, peppery or mustard-like flavor to salads and mesclun mixes.
Seeds or Seedlings
5 to 7 days, 40F to 55F
Full Sun, Part Shade
DAYS OF HARVEST
30 to 40
Seeds germinate quickly even in cold soil. Plant as soon as soil can be worked in spring. Avoid planting after other cabbage family crops. Plant ¼ inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows, or broadcast alone or mixed with other greens. Gradually thin to 6-inch spacings using thinnings for salads. Make new plantings every 2 to 3 weeks for a continuous supply until about a month before your average first frost date. Slow bolting by reducing heat and moisture stress. Provide some shade for warm-season plantings. Fast-growing plants are good for intercropping and relay cropping. Often self-seeds. Is self-sterile and requires insects for pollination. Will not cross with other members of the mustard family.
When flowers appear, cut entire plants to stand 3 to 4 inches tall, and repeat as more flower buds appear. Use leaves fresh, and dry some for winter use. Leaves dry quickly and retain their flavor well. To dry, tie stems together and hang bunches upside down in a shady, dry, well-ventilated place. After drying, remove leaves from stems and store in an airtight container.
Your arugula will send up little white flowers with dark veins. It sounds like this part has already happened. Then little seed pods will form along the stem. These can be eaten fresh but beware, they are very spicy - they have a strong radish flavor. Next, the whole plant will start to turn brown. Cut off water at this point and let nature take its course. You may need to support the stems as they dry to keep them from falling over.
What happens next is up to you. Some people cover the stems with old nylon stockings or paper bags to catch the seeds as the pods open. I usually clip the stems and take the pods home when they're ready. You'll know they're ready when you hear a rattling sound when you shake the pods. I hang them upside-down inside a paper bag for a week or so.
The seeds will last five years. They are oval and red-tinged. There are 12 000 seeds to the gram.
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