Although arugula has been grown since ancient times, only recently has this member of the cabbage family (it looks like lettuce though) gotten the attention it deserves for its bold, peppery flavor. It’s easy to grow, so plan on planting some so you can toss it into your salads and other dishes. Make sure to harvest the leaves while young. (Mature leaves tend to be bitter.)
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Like many lettuces, arugula is will grow in almost any sunny corner of your yard, but keep it handy so you can keep harvesting it so the leaves don't become too bitter to enjoy.
Because it thrives in cool weather and declines once summer heat sets in, arugula is ideal for getting a jump-start on the growing season. Make more of your garden space by succession planting. Get arugula in the ground in early spring while it's still too cold to plant tomatoes, eggplants, and other heat–loving vegetables. As you harvest it, arugula makes room for summer crops.
Caring For Arugula
For prolific harvests, plant arugula in a sunny spot that gets half-day or all-day sun and has moist, well-drained soil rich in organic matter. You can start seeds in early spring for an early-summer harvest and again in late summer for fall harvests. Though it's usually grown from seed, you may be able to find seedlings at your local garden center. Plant them about the time of your area's last expected frost date in spring. For fall crops, start the seeds indoors then transplant in mid- to late-August.
Water arugula regularly to keep the soil moist but not soggy. If your yard has clay soil, grow this plant in a container or raised bed to give it the conditions it needs to produce lush leaves. If your soil is low in nutrients, incorporate compost or a slow-release fertilizer into the planting hole.
You may be able to extend arugula's growing season by a couple of weeks by spreading a 2- to 3-inch-deep layer of mulch around the plant to help keep the soil cool as days get hot. (Arugula declines once temperatures rise above 80°F.) A layer of mulch also helps the soil stay moist in dry weather and prevents weeds from growing, making arugula care a cinch.
More Varieties of Arugula
Eruca 'Sputnik' mixture of arugula varieties that brings a subtle variety of tastes, as well as a wide array of leaf sizes and shapes. 40 days to harvest.
Rounded leaves offer a milder flavor than most varieties. Good heat tolerance. 38 days to harvest.