Arugula (Eruca sativa), easily found in grocery stores like Rocket arugula or Roquette arugula and Astro arugula, the two most common arugula varieties, is a leafy green vegetable tasty to prepare salads and as microgreens. This vegetable belongs to the Brassicaceae family, including broccoli, cabbage, and mustard. It is native to the Mediterranean, and gardeners cultivate and enjoy it worldwide nowadays. Throughout this article, I will explain how to grow arugula from seed quickly.
Arugula is one of my favorite crops because it grows easily and quickly. Depending on your region, you can grow arugula all year round. With very little space, you can grow arugula from seed simply and fast. Continue reading to learn all about growing arugula from seed.
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Types of Arugula
Several types and varieties of arugula exist, each with different flavors, leaf shapes, and slightly different growth habits. Here are some of the most common types of arugula:
Rocket arugula or Roquette arugula: The most common variety is the Rocket or Roquette. The leaves are tender, rounded, and have a peppery flavor. In only 35 days, you can harvest this variety of arugula for eating.
Astro Arugula: This variety of arugula is known for its vigorous growth and resistance to bolting (premature flowering). It has smooth, lobed leaves and a peppery taste. Astro arugula is popular among gardeners for its reliability and consistent flavor.
Arugula Microgreens for Sprouting and Growing: They are popular because of their fast growth. This variety of arugula has a spicy and slightly zesty flavor. In about 12 days, you can harvest and consume your arugula microgreens.
Sylvetta Arugula: Also called “wild arugula” or “woodland arugula,” Sylvetta arugula has deeply serrated leaves and a robust and spicy flavor. Popular in Italian cuisine, particularly in traditional dishes like pizza and pasta.
Dragon’s Tongue Arugula: This arugula variety features elongated leaves with vibrant red veins and stems. Its appearance adds visual interest to salads and dishes and offers a peppery yet mild taste.
Italian Arugula: This variety has broader leaves and a milder flavor than other types. It is often found in Mediterranean cuisine and used in salads and as a cooking green. Italian arugula takes up to 50 days to be ready to be harvested.
Garden Arugula: This is a versatile type of arugula with a balance of peppery and nutty flavors. It is often used in salads and can be lightly cooked or wilted.
Select the type of arugula variety best suits your taste and desired growing time. Always use quality arugula seeds to obtain a high germination rate.
Where to Grow Arugula from Seed
Arugula does not have profound roots, so you can grow arugula from seed in pots, containers, and garden beds. I have grown arugula from seed in pots that were no more than 6″ (15 cm) deep, and they grew perfectly. The most important thing is that the arugula receives at least 6 hours of direct sunlight daily. During the summer, you should provide shade for the arugula at the times with the most intense sun.
In terms of soil, arugula is not very demanding. The pH required for arugula from seed to grow well is between 6 and 7. In addition, soil rich in nutrients and with good drainage is necessary. Learn more about how to measure soil pH. The best soil temperature for planting arugula falls within the range of 45°F to 65°F (7°C to 18°C).
When to Grow Arugula from Seed
Arugula is a cool-season crop that thrives in cooler temperatures and is less tolerant of hot weather. The best times to grow arugula from seed are during the spring and fall seasons when temperatures are mild.
Of course, you can also grow arugula from seed during the summer, but you must provide some shade during extreme heat, such as midday. Providing shade for arugula during the summer will allow it to develop properly.
In regions with cold winters, you can start growing arugula seeds outdoors in early spring as soon as you can work the soil and the risk of frost has passed. That is usually around 2-4 weeks before the last expected frost date.
For a fall harvest, sow arugula seeds in late summer to early fall, about 6-8 weeks before the first expected frost date. The cooler temperatures of fall provide optimal growing conditions for arugula.
You can grow arugula from seed all year round in areas with milder winters. It is important to avoid planting during the hottest part of the year.
How to Grow Arugula from Seed Step by Step
Growing arugula from seed is very easy. Just use quality arugula seeds to get a high germination rate.
Select a sunny to partially shaded location for growing. Arugula prefers cooler temperatures and can tolerate some shade, especially in warmer climates.
Ensure the soil is well-draining and enriched with organic matter. Arugula grows slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH range of 6 to 7.
In the Garden or Raised Beds: Create shallow furrows about ½ inch (1 cm) deep in the soil. Space the furrows around 6 to 12 inches (15 to 30 cm) apart. Sprinkle arugula seeds evenly along the furrows and cover them lightly with soil.
In Containers or Pots: Growing arugula in pots is very easy. Fill the container with a well-draining potting mix. Scatter the arugula seeds evenly over the surface and cover them lightly with a thin layer of soil.
Once you sow the arugula seeds, water them gently. Keep the substrate moist but not waterlogged. In a few days, you will observe that the arugula seeds germinate. Additionally, you can cover your seedlings with plastic sheeting to create the effect of a greenhouse.
Arugula benefits from the company of beets, carrots, cucumbers, and onions as suitable companion plants. What are companion plants? These plants are strategically grown together close to mutually benefit each other regarding growth, health, pest management, and overall productivity.
As a gardener, I love arugula and always want fresh arugula when I do succession planting. Sow new arugula seeds every 2 to 3 weeks to ensure a steady harvest throughout the growing season.
In our garden, we use a drip irrigation system. This way, we can save water and water the arugula correctly. In addition, with the drip irrigation system, I avoid wetting the arugula leaves.
Arugula Pests and Disease
Some pests and diseases can affect arugula. Some conditions, such as fungal diseases, are often caused by overwatering, so it is vital to keep the soil moist but not soggy.
Last year, aphids and snails attacked my arugula, but these insects are very easy to control. For aphids, I always release ladybugs, which are very effective. One ladybug can eat many aphids. Against snails, I use diatomaceous earth. Learn more about how to use diatomaceous earth.
The best way to avoid any fungal disease in arugula is to water properly without over-watering and ensure that arugula plants have good air circulation. That is why I always recommend using a drip irrigation system. As a gardener, I have used these irrigation systems for years on almost all my plants. I can assure you that you can drastically reduce the risk of fungal.
How to Harvest Arugula
Growing arugula from seed will allow you to harvest in a very short time. Fully developed arugula leaves are prepared for harvest 40 days from planting. Harvest young arugula leaves 21 to 28 days after planting. Collect microgreens 12 days after planting.
The outer leaves of the arugula are the oldest leaves of the plant, and those are the ones you should harvest first. Use sharp scissors previously disinfected with alcohol. Always disinfect the tools you use before harvesting any fruit or vegetable.
I prefer to harvest arugula leaves when they are young because their flavor is milder than the adult leaves. Strive to utilize the fresh arugula leaves at your earliest convenience. They can remain stored in the refrigerator for approximately one week. Learn more about how to harvest arugula without killing the plant.
I like to have arugula all year round to eat it fresh whenever I want. Growing arugula from seed is very simple and can be grown in pots, raised beds, or directly in the ground. When growing arugula from seed, the most important thing is to use quality, disease-free seeds.
Several types of arugula can be grown from seed. Choose the variety that best suits your growing and flavor needs. Astro and Italian arugula are some of my favorites. Even though the Italian variety takes more days to grow, I love the taste. You can grow different types of arugula from seed to try other flavors.
You can grow arugula from seed without difficulty using nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Additionally, you may need to provide some shade for the arugula to grow and develop appropriately during the summer. Spring and fall are the best seasons to grow arugula from seed.