Gardeners Guide to Growing Vegetables
Chapter title – Arugula
Brassicaceae – Botrytis Group
The name Brassicaceae derives from the genus Brassica, which the family includes. The name Brassica means “cabbage” in Latin. The genus contains cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower among others. The family Brassicaceae contains over 330 genera and about 3,700 species, many of which are of economic importance as food crops. An older name for the family, Cruciferae, refers to the flowers that are standard across the family. The four-petaled flowers resemble a crucifix, thus the name Cruciferae. The older name is still sometimes used in place of Brassicaceae.
The Botrytis Group includes cauliflower, Romanesco broccoli and broccoflower.
Arugula does best in full sun, but it will tolerate some shade.
Arugula likes fertile, moist, light and well-drained soil with a ph around 6 – 6.5.
Arugula can survive winter temperatures south of USDA Zone 8.
Origins and History:
Harvested as a food crop at least since the Sixth Century, BC, arugula has a long history. Originating in the Mediterranean area, arugula had the reputation of being a sexual stimulant. This reputation was so strong that growing it in monasteries during the Middle Ages was forbidden. Many writers at the time recommended mixing it with lettuce to lessen the aphrodisiac effect. Arugula also found use as an anesthetic. Traditionally, people gathered arugula from the wild or home gardens to add to their salads.
Arugula is propagated by seed only.
Arugula is an annual and will flower in late spring to early summer if left un-harvested.
Plant Height, Spread, Spacing:
Arugula, depending on the variety, will grow from six to twelve inches tall and should be spaced about twelve to eighteen inches apart in the garden. The plant will reach from fifteen to twenty-four inches tall if allowed to bolt.
Flower Color, Description and Fragrance:
The white or light yellow, cross-shaped flowers have four petals and are from one quarter to one half inch in diameter. The flower clusters appear at the top of the plant on a long stalk.
Arugula flowers will not self-pollinate, so they rely upon insects for pollination. They will now cross-pollinate with other members of the Brassica family like cabbage, broccoli or cauliflower. You can save the seed to use to plant more arugula.
Arugula will grow from fifteen to thirty inches tall. The deeply divided leaves will be from eight to eighteen inches long. Leaves on young plants are edible, but become strong and bitter on plants left to bolt to flower. A central stalk, covered with rough hair, will grow up to thirty inches tall and developed the flower heads. Beak shaped seed pods develop after flowering. These one to three inch long pods will bear small, round seeds. Arugula is an annual plant that will complete its cycle the same year it is planted.
Plant arugula seeds about two weeks before the last expected spring frost in the spring. Arugula seed can handle cool weather and soil, so early sowings will probably germinate. Cover the seed with a light covering of soil. Press in, then mist with water. Plant seed every two weeks to assure a continuous supply of leaves. Stop sowing by mid to late spring, then continue again in late summer for fall crops.
Keep the soil moist, but not soggy, until the seeds germinate. Germination should occur in seven to fourteen days. Keep the soil moist while the seedlings grow. If the seedlings dry out, they will become stressed and may bolt to flower. Plant later crops of arugula in the shade of tomatoes, peppers or other tall plants to keep them from getting too hot.
Supplying an adequate supply of water to arugula is crucial to success, especially if the weather turns hot and dry. During hot spells, shade arugula to keep it from bolting.
Arugula’s growing season is short enough that few pests have time to cause problems for gardeners growing it. However, it is a member of the Brassicaceae family and subject to most of the problems associated with it.
The cabbage looper is a caterpillar that is about one to one and one half inches long. They move by “looping” their bodies and using their front and rear legs to walk. The adults are moths that are active at night. They do not over winter in the north, but migrate in annually when the winter warms. They feed on cauliflower and other members of the cole family. Their feeding can completely defoliate a plant.
Hand pick the caterpillars
Slugs are slimy creatures that look like shell less snails. They eat the leaves and can defoliate the plants, especially young ones. Controls:
These caterpillars are the larval stage of cabbage butterflies. These small yellow or white butterflies lay their eggs on cabbage and other cole crops. The resulting caterpillars eat voraciously and can defoliate plants.
To Control them:
Hand pick the caterpillars
Cabbage Root Maggots
The cabbage root maggot is the larval stage of the cabbage root fly. Control of the maggot is difficult. Control of the fly is easier. The fly lays its eggs near the base of the plant and is only active in cool weather. The eggs hatch and the larvae burrow into the roots, leaving channels in them. The plant will wilt and possibly die. Insecticides are largely ineffective. The best control is to use a row cover over the plants during cool weather. This prevents the flies from laying eggs.
You will find these small insects on the undersides of the leaves or on new growth. They feed by sticking their snouts into the plant and sucking out the juices. Plants can become stunted and grow slowly. Severe infestations can kill the plant. Ants sometimes tend aphids for their waste products, a sticky substance called honeydew. Rub small infestations off with the fingers. Control larger infestations with insecticidal soap, neem, rotenone or diatomaceous earth.
These small, black insects appear on the plant’s leaves. When they feed, the leaves look like a shotgun blasted them, leaving scores of tiny holes. The insects jump quickly from leaf to leaf when disturbed. Flea beetles attack many different kinds of plants in the garden.
Natural controls include:
Row covers placed over the rows as a barrier to keep the insects away from the plants.
A trap crop like radish or daikon may draw them away.
Disease Problems Include
This fungal disease begins as small, black dots. The dots expand and develop a grayish colored center. It can spread during wet weather. Small plants and seedlings will die. Larger plants will develop unsightly lesions on the heads, making them unmarketable. They are still edible, but you must cut the bad parts away and wash the remainder well. The fungus can infect the roots. There are no controls for this disease. There are only preventative measures. The disease can live in the soil for three years, so rotating crops so you do not plant cabbage in a bed for four years should eradicate it. Sterilizing the soil in a bed can also eradicate it. Work the soil well and wet it down. Place black plastic over the bed and allow the hot, summer sun to heat the soil. This may kill the fungus. Do not compost infected plants. It will attack all cole crops like broccoli, kohlrabi, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.
A bacterium that can enter the leaf margins causes Black Rot. It can also enter damaged areas of the leaf and infect seed. There is no control once the disease begins. It begins at the leaf margins, which turn yellow. The yellowing continues to form a “V” shaped lesion. Once it starts, it will spread to the rest of the plant.
The problem manifests itself above ground by yellowing leaves and stunted growth. Pulling the plants reveals club shaped roots instead of the fine root system of a normal plant. There is no control for this fungal disease. The only control is prevention. Once in the soil, it is difficult to get rid of. Buy only uninfected seedlings or grow your own. Liming the soil can tame the disease, but should be done with care. Raising the ph of the soil to 7.2 or higher can help the plants resist the disease. Use a soil test to determine your soils ph. Do this before and after treatment to see how much it helped. Use hydrated lime. This is ineffective on muck or sandy soils.
This fungal disease infects cabbage grown in warm temperatures. During cool weather it usually does not develop. The leaves turn yellow, curl or warp. Usually the effect is more noticeable on one side of the plant. The vascular vessels of the plant may turn brown and the leaves become brittle and dry. Some varieties are more susceptible than others are. Summer planted varieties may show symptoms, and then recover as the weather cools. There are no controls and once it is in the soil it can live for many years. Use resistant varieties and practice crop rotation.
Arugula contains high levels of dietary nitrate, which can help lower blood pressure and enhance athletic performance. The high levels of Vitamin K can help prevent osteoporosis and its alpha-lipoic acid levels can help those with diabetes. Arugula also has sulforaphanes, which can help prevent certain types of cancer.
The primary use for arugula is fresh, in salads and on sandwiches. Young leaves are best for this. Some cooks like to add older leaves, which are stronger in flavor, to soups, stir fries and egg dishes when the dishes are almost done cooking.
Harvest young leaves when they reach two to three inches long, starting at the outer edge of the plant. Leave the center leaves and the plant will continue producing leaves. Alternatively, harvest the entire head when it reaches maturity. If weather conditions are favorable, the plant may sprout again.
Arugula should keep well for three to four days after harvest. Rinse the leaves, towel dry and store in a plastic bag placed in the crisper drawer in the refrigerator.
Apollo – A Dutch heirloom with smooth, oval leaves and a milder flavor. It holds up fairly well in heat. (40 – 45 days)
Astro II – Another milder arugula that matures early. (35 – 38 days)
Olive Leaf aka Rucola Selvatica – A Foglia Di Oliva – a wild, Italian type. It has an intense flavor, but not overpowering. (45 –50 days)
Sylvetta – Narrow, spicy leaves. Slow to bolt. (45 – 50 days)
Beautiful, three-dimensional, oak-type leaves add loft to salad mix.
Astro Arugula (Roquette)
Organic Seeds, Plants, and Supplies
This variety is early, heat-tolerant standard variety with more shallowly-lobed leaf.
Sylvetta Arugula (Roquette)
This is a wild arugula variety popular with chefs; also known as Wild Rocket.
Bellezia Arugula (Roquette)
It has dark-green, deeply-lobed leaves on upright plant for easier harvest.
Sylvetta Arugula (Roquette)
This is a wild arugula variety popular with chefs; also known as ‘Wild Rocket.’
This is a standard salad arugula for salad mix, bunching, and edible flowers.
Wasabi Arugula (Roquette)
This has the same nose-tingling sensation as wasabi condiment in Japanese cuisine.
This variety has dark-green, deeply-lobed leaves on upright plant for easier harvest.
Surrey Arugula (Roquette)
Achieve wild arugula appearance with faster, easier-to-grow variety.
Astro Arugula (Roquette)
This is an Early, heat-tolerant standard variety with more shallowly-lobed leaf.
Dragon’s Tongue Arugula (Roquette)
Unique salad mix component due to unusual coloring and piquant flavor.
Principle – Nutrient Value – Percentage of RDA
Energy – 25 Kcal – 1%
Carbohydrates – 3.65 g – 3%
Protein – 2.58 g – 5%
Total Fat – 0.66 g – 3%
Cholesterol – 0 mg – 0%
Dietary Fiber – 1.6 g – 4%
Folates – 97 µg – 24%
Niacin – 0.305 mg- 2%
Pantothenic acid – 0.437 mg – 8%
Pyridoxine – 0.073 mg – 6%
Riboflavin – 0.086 mg – 7%
Thiamin – 0.044 mg – 4%
Vitamin C – 15 mg – 25%
Vitamin A – 2373 IU – 79%
Vitamin E – 0.43 mg – 3%
Vitamin K – 108.6 µg – 90%
Sodium – 27 mg – 2%
Potassium – 369 mg – 7.5%
Calcium – 160 mg – 16%
Copper – 0.076 mg – 8%
Iron – 1.46 mg – 18%
Magnesium – 47 mg – 12%
Manganese – 0.321 mg – 14%
Phosphorus – 52 mg – 7.5%
Selenium – 0.3 µg – <1% Zinc – 0.47 mg – 5% Phyto-nutrients Carotene-ß – 1424 µg Carotene-a – 0 µg Lutein-zeaxanthin – 3555 µg Source: https://www.nutrition-and-you.com/arugula.html Cooking and Preparing: Other than adding arugula to stir fries, soups and stews, arugula is normally consumed raw in salads and on sandwiches. Top of Page
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