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Tips From My Garden: How to Grow and Use Arugula

Marlene is an urban farmer who enjoys preparing meals from fruits and vegetables grown in her garden. Her friends call her "Garden Girl"!

Arugula

Arugula

I, possibly, am in denial because I won’t admit that I am a “foodie.” Though being witnessed by countless visitors and friends who call asking, “So, what are you doing right now?” I do have to admit that I watch a lot of food shows on television. I am immersed in the show as I pay close attention to the ingredients the television star chefs mix together to compile masterful meals during the fun and fact-filled half-hour shows. And, hear me on this, the show simply must not end until that magical moment when the chefs cut into the food and taste their marvelous creations right before my eyes.

Arugula in My Garden

I have an abundance of arugula growing in my back yard. This delicate arugula plant has big flavor, and it is a plant that is easy to grow and harvest. In this article, I share information about arugula and answer basic questions about how to grow, harvest, and store arugula. Near the end of this publication, I share my favorite (you’ve got to try this) arugula salad recipe.

Arugula Planting and Harvesting

Arugula is a cool season annual plant. Annual plants grow, drop seeds into the soil, and then die each year. When the time is right, the plant will grow again from the dropped seeds. In the case for arugula, you will begin to see arugula growing in your garden around early spring and fall when the ground becomes cooler.

  • This plant grows best in full sunlight.
  • Partial shade is alright, and you should have fertile, moist (but well-drained) soil. Space your plants about 12 to 18 inches apart.
  • Arugula grows to about 6 to 12 inches tall. However, when arugula bolts (See the heading titled, "What Does Bolting Mean?") the plant can grow as tall as 2 to 3 feet.
  • Arugula matures quickly. You can begin enjoying arugula in as little as 10 to 45 days after planting.
  • If you want to have a longer production time for your arugula, instead of pulling up the entire plant, harvest your arugula by picking the outside leaves first. This method of harvesting is called "sustainable" harvesting because you are prolonging the life of the plant while continuing to enjoy its production.

What Does Bolting Mean?

A cool season plant, like arugula, begins to stop producing when the weather becomes warm. When this happens, the stems begin to produce flowers. During this process, the plants become spindly and tall. Gardeners call this bolting.

Vegetable flowers are quite beautiful and for that reason, I tend to let many of my vegetables bolt until they whither or until I need to use the soil to plant a warm season crop.

Storing Arugula

I find that, once picked, arugula does not last very long. If you buy it at the grocery store, be prepared to use it right away. If you harvest it from your home garden, it may be kept for a maximum of three days, otherwise, it starts to become wilted and less flavorful.

Some chefs say never wash arugula until you are ready to use it. I kind of ignore that advice because if I have anything stored in the refrigerator, I like to be able to pull it out to use it immediately. Whether you wash or don’t wash your arugula before storing it, the best way to store arugula is to place the arugula onto a paper towel, roll up the arugula and paper towel, and then place this bundle into a plastic bag and store in the vegetable bin.

Arugula Is the Star on the Plate

Many chefs use arugula as an herb, but it is also used as a vegetable in salads and as a cooked green. It has a mildly spicy flavor. I prefer the younger leaves because, while spicy, the younger leaves have a mild hint of buttery sweetness.

I have seen most chefs use arugula in mixed green salads. Some use it as a garnish. And, I am seeing a larger number of chefs using arugula in cooked dishes. My true interest in arugula started when I saw a chef use arugula as a pizza topping instead of basil. I tried it and liked it so much I began growing arugula in my back yard.

My favorite salad: Arugula salad with iceberg lettuce, onions, radishes, and of course, arugula.

My favorite salad: Arugula salad with iceberg lettuce, onions, radishes, and of course, arugula.

My Arugula Salad Recipe

My favorite way of enjoying arugula is in a simple salad.

I am absolutely fond of the flavor combination of arugula and onions. When arugula is in season, I enjoy a salad with arugula almost every day. Here is a recipe for my favorite and simple Arugula Salad. You’ve got to try this!

Cook Time

Prep timeReady inYields

10 min

10 min

Serves 2 as a side dish

Salad Vegetable Mix

Onions, radishes, arugula, and lettuce.

Onions, radishes, arugula, and lettuce.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup iceberg lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/4 small onion, sliced very thin
  • 1 radish, sliced very thin
  • salt, to your taste preference
  • pepper, to your taste preference
  • 1 tablespoon Italian salad dressing

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients into a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Drizzle salad dressing onto mixed ingredients and toss.

Please Rate This Recipe

This dish serves 2 people as a side salad or serves 1 as a dinner salad. (My favorite dressing is a tie between Kraft’s “Zesty Italian” and Wishbone’s "Robusto Italian"). I hope you enjoy this salad!

How Many Calories Are in Arugula?

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), ½ cup of arugula has 0 Calories.

Why It Is the New Spinach

Arugula is also known as “rocket” and “rucola.” It belongs in the cruciferous vegetable family along with other vegetables such as broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, turnips, cabbage, broccolini, daikon, kohlrabi, and watercress.

Spinach belongs to the leafy green family of vegetables, and while arugula and spinach belong to different vegetable families, many nutritionists refer to both arugula and spinach as “super foods” because both of these vegetables reportedly help lower blood pressure, control diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. It is also said that both of these vegetables enhance athletic performance. Does anyone remember Popeye the Sailor Man? He is the cartoon character who, after eating a can of Spinach was able to effortlessly defeat his foe, Brutus. I imagine now, Popeye could have easily eaten arugula for the same results.

Some scientists say there is a chemical in arugula that may help slow the progression of several types of cancers. Mainly the reports mention, lung, colon, melanoma, esophageal, prostrate, and pancreatic cancers. Arugula is rich in vitamins A, K, and C. As with spinach, arugula is rich in folate, potassium, and calcium.

I have found that in preparing meals, whether eaten raw or cooked, I can substitute arugula in the same type of dishes where I would ordinarily use spinach.

The Value of Arugula

I hope you have discovered the value of arugula, a tasty and nutrient rich plant. Add this easy growing plant to your garden to enhance your dishes and enrich your health. Don't worry if you do not have a lot of space. Arugula grows easily in a container or small area of your garden.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2016 Marlene Bertrand

Comments

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on July 14, 2018:

Easy is the word of the day. Everything in my garden is easy to grow. I hope you are settled soon. Have a beautiful and blessed day.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 14, 2018:

O good to know...easy sounds good to me. When I get settled I will give it a try. Angels are on the way to you today. ps

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on July 13, 2018:

Hi Patricia, when I was introduced to arugula I immediately thought about growing it. I am glad I did. It is really easy to grow and harvest.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 12, 2018:

O really enjoy arugula ...had some today in my salad...a nice serving of it. I also like to add it to a sandwich on the rare occasions when I eat bread. I will have to check out growing it. Angels are on the way to you this evening ps

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 26, 2017:

Oh, by the way, Audrey, arugula is best grown in the colder season. I would plant it in the fall months. You don't need to bring it in during the winter because arugula can withstand a bit of frost.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on June 26, 2017:

Hi Audrey, I am happy you discovered this exciting plant. If I were forced to eat arugula with every meal I would not complain.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on June 25, 2017:

Hurray! This vegetarian has now discovered another nutritious addition to salads. Thanks. Gave this hub 5 stars. Your introduction to arugula will inspire anyone to give it a try.

Question. When is the best time of year top grow arugula and can it grow inside during cold months?

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 25, 2016:

Hello DDE. Thank you for visiting and for your feedback. I am glad you learned about this beautiful vegetable called arugula.

DDE on October 25, 2016:

Beautiful! I learned about the facts for the first time and it is an educational hub.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 22, 2016:

Hi grand old lady, like you, my husband and I are trying to eat healthier. I am glad I discovered arugula because not only is it flavorful, it has a lot of health value.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 22, 2016:

Hello Faith Reaper. Well, if you like a spicy leafy vegetable, then arugula is your choice. I was in the dark a few years ago. But I am glad I found out about arugula because now it is one of my favorite veggies. It is easy to grow. In the south, you do get a lot of warm days, but even in the south there are at least a few months where the weather is cold enough for arugula. It is worth a try and if it doesn't work, at least you won't have put a lot of time into it.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 22, 2016:

Hello Your Cousins. I think arugula is one of those vegetables that has to be consumed with something else. It is very spicy on it's own. I hope you have a chance to try my recipe. Thank you for your feedback.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 22, 2016:

Hi janshares. Thank you. I really like arugula. I had not heard of it until a couple of years ago, and when I tried it, I knew I had to add it to my garden. I'm glad I did.

Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on October 22, 2016:

Hi Marlene, informative hub! I love arugula salads served at restaurants. I've never made it at home but I use the spring mixes which contain arugula. The taste is just as you described and makes you feel like you're doing a healthy thing. I appreciate the new facts I learned from this hub: bolting (what a gorgeous flower) and that arugula is in the cruciferous family of vegetables. Excellent job, Marlene.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on October 22, 2016:

I've never heard of arugula, Marlene. Sounds yummy, especially being I like spicy. I will look for it and if I like it, I will consider planting it. I wonder if it grows here in the Deep South being it is so hot here for so long?

Your recipe looks so refreshing and simple ...my kind of recipe!

Blessings

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on October 22, 2016:

Thank you for this article about growing arugula, and adding a recipe for arugula salad. At my age, the husband and I are eating more salads, so we can add this to our list:)

Your Cousins from Atlanta, GA on October 22, 2016:

Arugula is such a heathy choice, but I've only tried it once and didn't like t that much. I think I will try again using your recipe. Thanks for the information.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 21, 2016:

Hello rebeccamealey. Thank you. Yes, it makes an excellent herb because of its spiciness.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 21, 2016:

Yes, Blond Logic, arugula is a spicy leaf. I like spicy. In fact, the radishes in this salad adds to the spiciness. But, too much is too much so I do tone it down with a mixture that includes other lettuces, but it has to be a plain lettuce like iceberg lettuce, otherwise, I'm just introducing more spice.

Mary Wickison from Brazil on October 21, 2016:

I have grown this before here in Brazil. In fact, you must be a mind reader because I bought some more seeds a few days ago. The variety here is quite spicy, almost like radish leaves. I tend to use it in a salad as well instead of cooking it but it was so strong.

I like your idea of mixing it with lettuce as you get a variety of greens. On its own, it was a little too spicy.

Thanks for the info.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on October 21, 2016:

Interesting sounding veggie. I like that it can also be used as an herb. That salad looks so fresh and delicious!

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 21, 2016:

Hahahaha! You are welcome, billybuc! But, look at it like this... arugula is an easy crop to crow. Plant it and while you are taking care of the rest of your farm, the arugula will be taking care of itself. If you like having something different, arugula is it.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 21, 2016:

Hello MsDora. Thank you for visiting. I have to laugh at your comment about me being excited about arugula. I am absolutely tickled about it. I have been growing it for years, but this year it grew in abundance and I am having a lot of fun with it.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 21, 2016:

Hello ChitrangadaSharan. Thank you for visiting. Yes. You are right. Arugula does have a little bit of a mustard green flavor. It also has a little bit of bite and if you pick the leaves young, it has a tender, sweet flavor along with the natural, robust flavor. I would use it in any dish that calls for greens.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 21, 2016:

Hello Jodah. Thank you for visiting. Yes. Arugula is known by many names, more than what I have listed here. I hope you get to try the salad.

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on October 21, 2016:

Excellent hub and you increased my curiosity so much that I searched for Arugula in Google. I have not heard about Arugula earlier. What I understand that it tastes similar to mustard leaves and that is quite popular in India. It has got that pungent taste and I love it in various recipes including salads.

Thanks for sharing the interesting information !

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on October 21, 2016:

Thanks for these facts on arugula. It's not very popular here, but you seem so excited about it, I will look into growing it. I grow spinach but a change is always welcome.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 21, 2016:

I've never grown it but now you've got me interested. Thanks a lot, Marlene! Just what I need, another crop. LOL

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on October 21, 2016:

Hi Marlene. I had never heard of arugula, but it looked very familiar. Later in the hub when you said it was also called "rocket" it all made sense. Rocket is the common name for it here in Australia. Yes a wonderful salad vegetable. Good article.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 20, 2016:

Hello RTalloni. This is such a simple salad, but it includes a combination of ingredients (arugula and onion) that I simply cannot get enough of.

Marlene Bertrand (author) from USA on October 20, 2016:

Hello Rangoon House, arugula is one of those greens that I look forward to eating. I even eat it for breakfast with eggs.

RTalloni on October 20, 2016:

Thanks for a closer look at a flavorful and nutritious addition to salads.

AJ from Australia on October 20, 2016:

We eat arugula nearly every day in our house - it is the main ingredient in all of our salads, so I enjoyed collecting a new recipe from you.