Need some expert tips for how to grow arugula (aka Rocket)? Arugula is my favorite salad green, and I’ve been growing it successfully for over a decade now. Below are my top tips on growing arugula, so you can have a happy harvest of the BEST salad greens almost all year long.
Why I’m an Expert with Growing Arugula….
Arugula is my absolute favorite salad green, and I almost always eat salads made up only of arugula from my garden. With a slightly peppery taste, Arugula gives salads a nice bite. Some people might add arugula to their salads, but me, I’ll eat the whole salad made of arugula.
I also love eating arugula on homemade pizza, and my absolute favorite homemade pizza recipe is my Goat Cheese Arugula Pizza, with tangy pesto, creamy goat cheese, and peppery arugula on it. Mmmm….
If I’m not eating arugula as a salad or as a pizza topping, you’ll find me eating it in one of these delicious and creative arugula dinner recipes. Seriously, I grow arugula almost all year long and none of it goes to waste. I am known in my family as the obsessed-arugula-eater.
Due to my arugula addiction, I’ve grown arugula for over a decade now, and I’ve really mastered the techniques for successfully growing arugula.
Expert Tips for Growing Arugula (aka Rocket)
You do not have to be a professional gardener to grow Arugula. It is very hardy, very cheap, and grows very quickly.
One of the great things about growing arugula is that when you harvest, if you cut it 1-2 inches above the dirt line, there’s a really good chance it will give you another harvest. After that cutting, you might get another one. However, even though you can get a few crops from one plant, it is not a perennial.
When you cut down one crop of Arugula, think about throwing more seeds in the same area so that you can have more Arugula in a few weeks. If you do this right, you can have a succession crop of arugula, one after the other. You can even time it out so that there is always some ready to be harvested.
Arugula is one of the first plants you can start growing in the Early Spring. Check out my post on Early Spring Garden Planning to learn about other plants you can grow early.
How to Grow Arugula:
Arugula is not picky about the soil because it is quite hardy, however, the more nutrients in the soil, the happier it will be. This is a common feature of Brassicas (for more information on where to grow it in your garden, check out my Crop Rotation Guide post).
Wherever you sow it, remember that Arugula likes full sunshine in the Spring and the Fall, but if possible, give it some shade in the summer, to prevent it from sun scorching.
Expert Tip: Even in my Garden Zone 8a (South Carolina) Hot Summers, I can still usually grow arugula. Arugula bolts quickly in hot sunny places in the summer. So in the summer, plant it in a shady spot of your garden. A great place to consider is in the shadows of your tall tomato plants.
Arugula grows easy from seed, and you can simply sow them directly into the soil. Choose a sunny place in the spring for your arugula patch. Here are some organic seeds you might want to try.
You can begin sowing in the spring as soon as your soil is thawed. Arugula is one of the first plants I plant in the early spring, and it can handle spring frosts easily. If you’re concerned about losing your arugula harvest, you can be safe and protect your plants from the frost. Here are my best tips on how to protect your plants from the frosts.
Expert Tip: Every few weeks, if you want a continual harvest, keep direct sowing some arugula seeds in your arugula section of the garden. When the late-spring weather seems to be hinting that summer is getting closer, stop sowing seeds in that sunny spot of the garden. Sow the arugula seeds in a shady spot in your garden for the summer harvest. Enjoy the last few weeks of “spring arugula” and then plant something else in that spring arugula spot (late spring crops do well here, including carrots, peppers, or tomatoes). By the time your “spring arugula” is officially done, your “summer arugula” should just be ready to start harvesting.
Expert Tip: Keep sowing arugula seeds in your shady summer spot until about 4 weeks before your first frost date in the fall. 4 weeks before your first frost date, start sowing arugula seeds in a sunny spot in your garden again. By the time this arugula patch is ready to harvest, hopefully, your summer heat is done. This is the toughest time for my non-stop arugula harvesting. Sometimes, our summer extends all the way to our first frost, so I occassionally have a few weeks without arugula. Be patient with the things you cannot control, like weather, and keep trying.
For a winter harvest, the soil cannot be frozen. If you live in a colder climate, consider growing arugula in a cold frame or a cloche. Learn more about how to extend your gardening harvests in this article. You can also grow arugula indoors during the winter. It is not prone to going leggy like other plants, so you can have pretty good luck with growing arugula indoors.
Since I live in a warm climate, I can keep sowing arugula seeds during the winter. Since I love growing arugula, I always buy a HUGE packet of arugula seeds and I go through them in about a year. You can check out these organic garden seed companies to compare/contrast the prices for arugula seeds.
Arugula seeds, if stored properly, can stay good for up to 3 years. I have never experimented with the 3-year-mark, though, since I plant so much arugula.
Proper Maintenance for Arugula:
For the most part, arugula is super easy to grow. I’ve never had any problems with pests with my arugula plants. If you’ve ever had pest problems with your arugula plants, let me know in the comments, and I’ll research the problem and add helpful info here.
The biggest problem for arugula is that it bolts easily in the heat of the summer. If arugula bolts, the stems get a bit tough and woody, flowers appear on the tops of the plants, and the leaves are more bitter. You can still eat the leaves, but you might not like the taste as much. You can also eat the flowers! The flower petals are kinda spicy, and it’s really tasty on sandwiches.
If your Arugula bolts and you don’t harvest/eat the flowers, it will eventually self-seed itself. However, the new plants will have smaller leaves.
Expert Tip: I find that planting the summer arugula in the shade and then harvesting the leaves constantly helps keep arugula from bolting. Keep eating your arugula!
When it is time to harvest your arugula, start by picking the outer leaves of each plant. Remember to cut the tops and leave the roots in the earth in order to hopefully get a few harvests from the same plant.
And again, make sure you keep picking your Arugula. If you allow the plants to form flowers (aka bolt), the leaves will become bitter. Of course, since this is such a quick growing plant, if you cannot keep up with the Arugula and it forms flowers, you can always start a new batch and have more Arugula in just a few weeks.
It’s such an awesome, easy-going, quick growing plant for your garden. Let me know about your arugula growing adventures in the comments below!
More Awesome Gardening Tips:
- Spring Garden Planning
- Early Spring Garden Planning
- The Insanity of Spring: A Gardener’s Reflection
- Seed Saving Tips: How to Save Kale Seeds