Arugula The Garden Rocket

The first time the strong rich peppery flavour of garden rocket burst on my tastebuds. I was hooked on the stuff. Next thing I knew I was growing it in my hydroponic unit to feed my cravings.

Since then I have curbed that ravenous urge and eat it now in moderation.

The herb is known by not one but a few other names. Arugula as known in the US, Roquette in France, Rucola and Eruca shortened from its scientific name Eruca Sativa.

The following is how I grow it, eat it and even take spectacular photos just for the fun of it.

How to Grow Arugula Garden Rocket

Rocket seeds are small brown and oval shaped and are early germinators. Rocket my name rocket by nature.

In compost, sow 2 cm deep. Keep the media moist and covered until the seed sprouts and develops it first true leaf. This is not the 2 leaves that develop first but the second set or single leaf.

Once you see them then uncover and place it in a light warm place.

Germination will happen in about 2 weeks if you keep the soil warm and moist. Pot-on into a pot where they can grow to maturity and continue to pinch out the tops to reap the young tender leaves and stop them from bolting (growing flower stalks).

To germinate the seeds by hydroponic method, place them on a growing medium in a seed nursery.

If you don't have a nursery unit use some absorbent paper and keep it moist and under a light. The seeds will germinate in a few days to a week in the warmth.

Once they have sprouted and are big enough to handle transfer to the hydroponic unit. I just germinate mine right there in the little baskets under the grow lights.

If you do sow them in the early winter months keep them fairly warm or sow them in late winter through to June. Rocket is a frost hardy annual so can be transferred to the greenhouse or cold frame once they become young plants.

Rocket doesn't wait around to grow. It's a very vigorous plant and will bolt before you can make the count down 3 2 1 all engines running, we have lift off!

As I said before, just keep pinching out any flower buds that form to continue reaping tender leaves.

Growing to Bloom

The flowers are a creamy white colour with 4 dark veined petals that are quite small.

Some gardeners allow them to develop for garnishing salad.

Take note that the leaves of the rocket will become tougher once that happens.

Benefits of Garden Rocket

Without a doubt vitamin C is abundant in this herb. To eat it throughout winter, grow in succession indoors for a continuous supply and as a stimulant to give some oomph to your love life like the Romans did.

It is popular to mix it in salad with other leafy greens but I like to pair it with cheese as a sandwich raw or toasted. Try steaming them along with spinach drizzled in melted butter. Oooh!

In your spare time though you can just sit and admire this weed-like herb or even take great photos of it like I do. Is is just co-incidence that this photo looks like the flames of a rocket up-side-down?

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