Monday, March 31, 2014

A is for Arugula (Also Called Rocket)

One of the  aurugula plants in my garden
My biggest challenge with growing arugula has never been how to plant or care for it... the thing grows like a weed even when unattended ... but how to keep it contained so it doesn't take over the whole garden.

I generally plant it in inhospitable areas of the yard, or where I have a weed problem and I put it there to overwhelm the weeds. That way, it can happily take over, reseed whenever, and I can pick baby leaves when I'm in the mood for the salad but largely ignore it. Not that I don't love the salad. I do. It's one of my favourite munchies while I garden. But like I said, the thing grows and grows....

So if  your gardening space is limited in some way, it would be advisable to grow your arugula in a container.

How to grow arugula


Arugula grows well in Autumn and prefers full sun or semi-shade and well-drained soil. Turn the soil over, work in compost, rake it even and water thoroughly the day before you sow. Sow the seeds 1-1.5cm deep in rows that are 30cm apart.
Water it well as it grows, preferably at the end of the day, ensuring that the soil is always slightly moist, otherwise it will go to seed too quickly.

You can start harvesting the baby leaves after a month of planting. Pick only a few leaves from each plant and remember that the older the leaves are, the stronger their flavour will be. 

Also keep in mind that the frequency with which you nip out the flower and seed buds will determine the duration of your arugula harvest.

For a continuous harvest, you may choose to sow some arugula seeds every couple of weeks. I tend to let one or two plants go to seed and let them reseed the patch.


Here's a very simple recipe that I found online and which I adapt and use quite often:450g/1lb tomatoes chopped into chunks
  • 50g/2oz  arugula, stalks removed
  • A dash of salt
  • A dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • 3-4 tbsp good quality extra virgin oil
Put the tomatoes on a salad bowl and toss with salt and pepper, add the rocket leaves and toss again, then drizzle the salad with olive oil. Serve immediately.

Sometimes I add strawberries with feta, apple chunks or avocado to the above recipe. For a warm rocket salad, I add freshly roasted pumpkin, butternut or squash with nuts into the mix, with or without the tomato.

You  can also throw in a few arugula leaves into your lettuce salad from extra flavour, or put it into a casserole or stew to use as a herb/add flavour, though I haven't tried the latter yet.

Anyhoo, try it; grow it in a small container if you're not sure you'll like the taste of it. At worst, you'll end up with a container full of pretty white flowers:-)

56 comments:

  1. Hi Damaria .. I love Arugula .. and particularly in salads, or sometimes as a veggie ..

    Good to see the red earth of South Africa .. and planting it in a pot to contain it - we do that with mint here, otherwise it runs and runs!

    Cheers and lovely having the recipe too .. looks like you make up things as I do ..love those combinations .. and they make tasty differences ...Hilary

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    1. Hey Hilary

      I get the feeling sometimes you miss SA quite a bit:-)

      I enjoy experimenting with recipes and food combinations. I find very interesting tastes that way. Though sometimes family is not thrilled with the results.

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  2. Hi Damaria - I'm stopping by on the A to Z.

    Thanks for posting the alternative name, because, being a Brit, I know this one as Rocket. The sound of the warm butternut squash salad sounds delicious.

    Happy blogging,

    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles
    Fantasy Boys XXX

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    1. We also call it rocket here, Sophie, and it took me a while to work out what the arugula people spoke about was. But most of my readers are American.. sooo...

      Enjoy your A-Z tour. I'll be by to see you later.

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  3. Hi Damaria, Thanks for your post. It's timely for me as I am just starting a garden. I love rocket but was a bit daunted to plant it. It always seems such a delicacy, I thought it would be tricky to grow. Now I know different! I shall go plant some today.
    Happy growing, Wendy

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    1. Glad my post helped clear that up, Foxygwen. Good luck with your own plant. I'd love to know how it works out.

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  4. I wonder what it is called in our local language. I'll find out. I long to grow something in our balcony, but the pigeons mess everything up!

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

    Vidya Sury
    A to Z Challenge
    Affirmations
    The ABCs of Living with Type 2 Diabetes

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    1. Ouch! Sorry about the pigeons. Back when I lived in a flat I was soo frustrated because I wanted to grow things. Then, I didn't see how I was ever going to make it happen. I feel fortunate that it's a reality now.

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  5. You must have good soil for it to grow so well. Reading this I suddenly wanted a salad. Yum! Shells–Tales–Sails

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    1. It is good soil, thanks Sharon. I have a few neighbours who have cattle = access to free manure. The family who gardened before me also took very good care of the soil... and never used chemicals on it. So it's a good place.

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  6. I am happy to visit your blog, its nice and beautiful, I am not into gardening, and I do not know about this plant, but I do appreciate your post!

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    1. Thank you for your visit. I think you and I would have something better in common through my other blog, Storypot, where I talk about writing and publishing. (http://damariasenne.blogspot.com). I looked up your profile and couldn't find your blog though. Please post your link here so I can check it out?

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  7. I have no idea what these are called in my part of the world.
    Let me see if I can find out

    Ishithaa
    #AtoZChallenge

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  8. I tend to kill every plant I so much as look at, but it is fascinating to see how it should be done.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings

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    1. I'm also learning as I go along. Used to be I grew what I didn't manage to kill. LOL!

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  9. I had no idea that arugula spreads on its own. I only recently tried eating it for the first time. I love it, the rest of the family thought I was trying to serve them some kind of noxious weeds.

    Looking forward to following along!

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  10. Arugula - a good eye opener for me and my mom. We thought it was so uncool now my mom says she wants to trying this out!

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  11. My first year doing A to Z, and today I've found a lovely recipe - thank you
    http://aimingforapublishingdeal.blogspot.co.uk/
    Twitter: WriterBizWoman

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    1. Glad I provided an nice introduction. This is my first year too. Having a lot of fun.

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  12. Arugula is not my favorite plant, I usually substitute spinach in recipes, but I look forward to reading your A to Z picks. Around here the rabbits love salads so I usually don't plant any salad greens.

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    1. Glad to have you Denise. I hope I do have some of your favourite plants in the mix.

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  13. Am reading about Arugula for the first time! Dont know what is it called here. Thanks for sharing about it :)
    Shilpa Garg
    Co-Host AJ's wHooligan for the A to Z Challenge 2014

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  14. I started eating Rocket in salads when I relocated to Sydney. It's quite abundent here. thanks for the recipe.

    #AtoZChallenge

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  15. You make me wish I'd picked up that container of organic arugula at the discount store yesterday.... I'll give it another try soon. Looking forward to reading your posts.

    Julie @ Julie 2 Jules
    A= Eating on Autopilot

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    1. Good luck with it if you do manage to get the plant.

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  16. I didn't realize arugula grew like a weed! Why is it so expensive in the stores then??? Now I wish I'd grown it myself when we had a garden, I love it in salads.

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    1. Maybe it depends on the type of soil and availability? I'm in the Southern Hemisphere (South Africa) in a semi-arid region with summer rainfaill and mild winters, so it could very well be the weather allows for it to grow like this, whereas it could struggle in other areas. But for me here, it self-seeds like you wouldn't believe, lucky me:-)

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  17. Hi, This is so informative. Didn't have any idea about it. Thanks for the nice post.

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  18. Hi Damaria,

    I'm stopping by on the A-Z Challenge. I live in Nova Scotia, Canada, a colder maritime climate. Theoretically it's spring but it's currently snowing! I don't have a garden of my own (yet) but I'm working on it . . . I love reading about other people's gardens, especially in other climates.

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  19. Love rocket lettuce Damaria, tks for the informative post and the recipe :) Looking fwd to your daily posts.

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  20. That's an interesting and informative post, Damaria! Hope to read more of them. Stopping by from A To Z Challenge.

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  21. Nice post! Love that you added a recipe! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  22. I am not a cook, so I always appreciate recipes.

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    1. Happy to provide more. Though I tend to improvise rather than following them as they are:-)

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  23. Wow, there are a lot of bloggers doing the A to Z thingy! I am not sure I would have enough to say to have joined in :-) Maybe next time.

    I didn't realise rocket was also called Arugula. Here in Australia I am just letting mine go to seed and it will come up again later in the year to be added to salads during the hotter months.

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    1. I was also a bit nervous when I entered Nana, but I prewrote the posts for this blog and that has helped quite a bit.

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  24. excellent A-Z theme- love to garden and since we moved to upper Northern California I've been challenged by a shorter growing season and deer!!! I'll try the arugula outside of the fenced garden to see if perhaps they wont like it! It would be a great ground cover close to the house ....If they do- phooey- I'll move it inside the safe fenced area! Cheers!

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  25. Yum! I tried arugula for the first time last year and just love its peppery, robust flavor! I've never tried growing it, but I might need to this autumn! Thanks for the tips! ~ Angela, A to Z participant from Web Writing Advice (http://www.webwritingadvice.com/) and Whole Foods Living (http://wholefoodsliving.blogspot.com/)

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    1. Good luck. I hope it grows well for you too.

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  26. Hello there.
    Your gardens look great. All the best with the challenge!
    Entrepreneurial Goddess

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    1. Thank you. Good luck with the challenge too.

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  27. Hi Damaria,
    Thanks for this. I love rocket. My favourite way to eat it is in a simple salad with tomatoes and feta cheese. :) I call it y Christmas Salad because of the colours. Look forward to more of your posts on the A-Z.
    Monica

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    1. Hi Monica

      Tomatoes with feta is a very nice combination. I love that with a few ingredients here and there, I can get a completely different salad and still enjoy my rocket.

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  28. I believe my hubby makes his Italian Wedding soup with this! I will have to ask! Jan recently posted http://www.mermaidsandcashmere.com/bee-balm-aka-wild-bergamot/

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    1. I wonder what Wild wedding soup is like. Never heard of it.

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  29. I've heard about rocket but never been able to correlate it to a plant in India, Damaria. Must investigate this. Thanks for sharing.

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    1. I did a quick search and apparently in India, the mature seeds are known as Gargeer. Now I've learnt a new name:-)

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