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Seeds from Italy

How to grow arugula

img-0238.jpgArugula

Wild Arugula or Cultivated Arugula.  Both are a wonderful addition to a salad, but are also good cooked with pasta, wilted on a pizza, or in a fritatta.  Cultivated arugula has a nice pungent taste that gets ‘hotter’ as the plant becomes more mature and also in the summer.  It is ready in 35-40 days.  Wild arugula, by contrast, is slower growing (50-55 days), is a bit more pungent, and is more cold hardy.

Culture.  Direct seed 4-5 weeks before the last frost date.  Scatter seeds in a well prepared bed (30-60 seeds per square foot).  Tamp seeds firmly or cover them with a thin layer of sifted compost and tamp well.  Keep moist until seedlings emerge, which should be 3-8 days, depending on temperature.  Begin harvesting when they are 3-4 inches tall by pulling individual plants, thinning out your planting.  As they get a bit larger, you can just cut an entire section about ½ inch above the soil line with a sharp knife.  Taste becomes sharper as the plants mature and the temperature increases.  If you allow them to flower, you can still eat them, but they will be a bit hotter.  Succession plant every 2-3 weeks for a continuous harvest.  If you grow in 4-foot wide raised beds, an 18 inch section should provide you with plenty of arugula for 2-3 weeks.  

Diseases and pests.  For all practical purposes, no pests or diseases bother arugula. 

Harvest, storage, and use.  Use to spike salads.  Cook with pasta – wilt arugula in some good olive oil with a clove or so of minced garlic.  Add pasta about a minute or two shy of being al dente.  Add a ¼ cup or so of water or broth, cook until the pasta is done.  Add salt & pepper if desired.  A nice grating cheese goes well with this.  You can also cook arugula in a fritatta along with some chard or spinach or just by itself.  To store, rinse and store in the crisper section in a plastic bag.