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.
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.