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How to Harvest Arugula Without Killing the Plant

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Arugula is a fast-growing leafy green; you can harvest it multiple times throughout its growing season, which may be all year around. Throughout this article, I will explain in detail how to harvest arugula without killing the plant so you can get more fresh arugula leaves in the harvest season. In addition, I will also explain how to harvest arugula seeds to obtain new seedlings.

Arugula microgreens are harvested within a few days of sowing. Suppose you want to eat the young arugula leaves (the less bitter ones) in some arugula varieties. In that case, you can harvest them in just 21 days. For your arugula plants to give you the most leaves possible, you must harvest arugula leaves correctly. Continue reading to learn how to harvest arugula without killing the plant.

When to Harvest Arugula

When to harvest arugula? Depending on the variety of arugula you have planted, the time to start harvesting arugula varies a little. For example, if you want to obtain arugula microgreens in just 12 days, you can harvest them. On the other hand, you should wait at least 21 days to obtain young arugula leaves.

Most arugula varieties reach full maturity in 30 to 45 days. The larger leaves of arugula are more spicy and slightly more bitter. I prefer the young leaves, which are milder and less bitter, but it is up to the taste of each gardener whether they want young leaves or adult leaves for their meals.

Nonetheless, regardless of the variety of arugula you are growing. You can start harvesting once the leaves reach a size suitable to eat or even earlier if you prefer harvesting baby arugula leaves.

how to harvest arugula without killing the plant infographic
Infographic on how to harvest arugula without killing the plant.

How to Harvest Arugula Without Killing the Plant

Harvesting arugula without killing the plant is easy, but you must follow a few steps correctly. By harvesting arugula correctly, you will surely get more arugula leaves during the season. Of course, it is not an eternal way to get arugula leaves because the plant has one production season, and then it will not produce anymore.

Harvest the outer lower leaves of the arugula first. Choose the outermost leaves of the arugula plant for harvesting. These leaves are the oldest and tend to be the largest. Leave the inner, smaller leaves to continue growing.

Cut to the base of the arugula plant. Position your scissors or shears just above the base of the leaf you want to harvest and snip it off. Make a clean cut to prevent tearing or damaging the plant.

Never cut more than one-third of the arugula leaves at a time. Avoid harvesting more than one-third of the plant at a time. That allows the arugula plant to continue growing and producing more leaves. You can harvest again in about a week when the new leaves have reached a suitable size.

It would be best if you always left some leaves on your arugula plant because they are necessary for photosynthesis. That will allow the plant to continue to grow and develop.

Continue harvesting arugula leaves as needed throughout the growing season. Frequent harvesting will encourage the plant to produce more leaves.

Following these three steps, you can harvest arugula without killing the plant. Always use disinfected scissors to prevent the arugula plant from getting sick and continue to grow correctly.

harvesting arugula without killing the plant
How to Harvest Arugula Without Killing the Plant? Cut to the base of the arugula plant. In the image above you can see how to make the correct cuts to harvest arugula.

How to Cut Arugula for Salad

Cutting arugula for salad is very simple. You can cut the whole plant and wait for new leaves to grow or use the method I explain in this article to harvest some arugula leaves.

Select the outer leaves of the arugula plant and cut them at the base of the arugula plant. The new arugula leaves will not come from the cuts you made, so it is important to cut the base of the plant. Cutting arugula leaves in this way will give you consistently fresh leaves of arugula for salads.

Will Arugula Grow Back After Cutting?

Will Arugula Grow Back After Cutting? Yes, arugula grows again after cutting it. To harvest arugula without killing the plant and keep it growing, follow these three steps:

  1. Continually harvest the outer leaves of arugula that are the oldest.
  2. Cut close to the base of the arugula plant.
  3. Never harvest more than 1/3 of the arugula plant.

Your arugula will grow back after cutting it using these three simple steps. This way, you will get fresh arugula leaves for much longer than if you harvested the whole arugula plant.

will arugula grow back after cutting
Will Arugula Grow Back After Cutting? Yes, arugula will regrow after cutting if you follow proper harvesting techniques.

Can You Harvest Arugula After It Flowers?

Can You Harvest Arugula After It Flowers? Yes, you can still harvest arugula after it flowers. The flavor and texture of the leaves may not be as desirable as when the plant is in its pre-flowering stage.

Arugula tends to become more bitter, and its leaves are tougher once it starts to flower. However, if you still want to use the arugula leaves to eat after flowering, you can do so. Just be aware that the taste may be different from what you expect.

How to Harvest Arugula Seeds

Harvesting arugula seeds is a relatively simple process that allows you to save seeds for future plantings.

Arugula plants will produce seed pods after they flower. These seed pods will eventually turn brown and dry out. Allow your arugula plants to grow until the seed pods are fully mature and have dried on the plant. Select a few arugula plants you will let grow fully only to obtain seeds.

Test a few arugula seed pods by gently squeezing them. If the seeds inside are hard and no longer green, they are ready for harvesting.

Using pruning shears or scissors, carefully cut the mature seed pods from the arugula plants. Place the harvested seed pods in a clean paper bag or envelope. Avoid using plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and cause mold.

In a dry, well-ventilated area, spread the seed pods on a clean cloth or tray. Leave them to dry for at least a week or until completely dry and brittle. Make sure the area is free from humidity, as moisture can cause the seeds to mold.

Once the arugula seed pods are dry, gently crush them with your fingers to break them open. The arugula seeds should easily separate from the pods. Store arugula seeds in a dry place.

how to harvest arugula seeds
Arugula seed pods.

Final Conclusions

All of us who love to eat arugula always like to have some fresh leaves available for salads and pizza toppings at home. That is why I consider it very important to know how to harvest arugula without killing the plant. By following all the steps mentioned in the article, you will harvest arugula leaves correctly and allow new arugula leaves to grow back.

Normally, as explained in the article, you will get 2 to 3 times more arugula leaves than if you harvest the whole plant. Then, the arugula plant will stop growing, and you will have to plant new plants. To constantly have fresh arugula leaves, planting new seedlings every three weeks and harvesting using the method explained is best.

Never harvest more than 1/3 of the arugula plant to allow new leaves to grow. Also, it is essential that you cut the leaves at the base because no new arugula leaves will grow back from that cut. New leaves will grow from the arugula plant. Following the above steps will allow you to harvest arugula without killing the plant.

If you want to get more fresh lettuce leaves I recommend you read our article on how to harvest lettuce without killing the plant.


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About Henry Morgan

Henry Morgan is an agronomist horticulture founder of The Garden Style Company and The Garden Style Website. He previously worked for Mondelēz International as an Agronomist Engineer specializing in agricultural products management in highly populated areas. In 2000, Henry started working with farmer-producers in agricultural businesses selling wholesale fresh produce and retail plants in Van Buren, Arkansas. Nowadays, Henry lives in California, where he offers expert consulting services for organic vegetable gardening. As a science writer working with his wife, Julia, Henry shares his passion for gardening and farming, trying to reach and teach as many folks as possible.

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