Growing Arugula: Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Arugula | The Old Farmer's Almanac


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Botanical Name
Eruca sativa
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Planting, Growing, and Harvesting Arugula

The Editors
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Also known as “rocket” or “roquette,” arugula is a fast-growing, cool-season leafy green that adds a tangy, mustard-like flavor to salads. Here’s how to plant and grow arugula in your garden!

About Arugula

Arugula stems from the warmer parts of Europe—namely Italy and along the Mediterranean, through Turkey and into western Asia. A member of the mustard family (Brassicaceae), it’s a relative of other common garden plants such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale

Arugula is often found in mesclun seed mixes, as it grows quickly and has a bolder flavor than most greens. Plant in early spring or early fall and you will be able to harvest young leaves 6 to 8 weeks after sowing. The seeds will germinate quickly in cool soil and seedlings are capable of tolerating a light frost, but consider protecting plants with cloches or row covers nonetheless! Arugula is not very picky when it comes to soil quality and is a great choice for container gardens.


When to Plant Arugula

  • Arugula seeds will germinate in soil temperatures as low as 40°F (4°C), so sow them outdoors as soon as the soil can be worked in spring. See local frost dates.
  • Sow in late summer or early fall for a fall or winter harvest.

Choosing and Preparing a Planting Site

  • Arugula does best in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil, but will tolerate a wide variety of conditions. It prefers slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6 and 7.
  • Plant in full sun (6 or more hours of sunlight) for the best results. Arugula will also grow in partial sun.
  • Avoid planting arugula in areas where its relatives (other Brassicas) have recently been planted, as pests and disease may persist. 

How to Plant Arugula

  • Plant ¼-inch deep and about 1 inch apart in rows 10 inches apart. Alternatively, broadcast arugula seeds alone or mix with other salad greens.
  • Seeds germinate in about a week (or slightly longer in cold soil). Speed up germination by soaking seeds in water for a few hours prior to planting.
  • Sow new seeds every 2 to 3 weeks for a continuous harvest later on!

How to Grow Arugula

  • Keep soil evenly moist; his helps to prevent bolting in warmer weather.
  • Thin seedlings to about 6 inches apart, using the thinnings for salads.
  • To reduce heat stress and prevent bolting, provide some shade for warm-season plantings.

Arugula salad greens


How to Harvest Arugula

  • The leaves taste best when young. Older leaves can be tougher and will have more of a bite!
  • Harvest leaves when they are about 2-3 inches long.
  • Pull up the whole plants or cut individual leaves as needed.
  • The white flowers are also edible. 
Wit and Wisdom
Cooking Notes

Packed with vitamins and minerals, arugula is often used fresh or in cooked dishes. Toss arugula into…

  • Salads
  • Soups
  • Omelettes and eggs
  • Sandwiches
  • Grains
  • Pizza toppings (Dress arugula lightly in a lemony vinaigrette.)