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Arugula is a spring or fall green that is typically grown from seed. Often called rocket, the leafy vegetable is prized for its strong, peppery flavor. There are two basic types of arugula: cultivated and wild. The wild varieties have a more pungent taste. Popular varieties include Rocket and Wild Italian Rocket.
Arugula likes cool temperatures, a fair amount of sun and plenty of moisture. With a garden fork, work some high-nitrogen fertilizer into the top 5" or 6" of soil. Partition the garden bed into small sections using pebbles or other materials. These areas make it easy to plant successive crops for a longer harvest of tender greens.
In early spring, when soil temperatures are 40 and 65 degrees, it is safe to plant the seeds. Scatter the seeds across the soil in one section of the garden bed. It is fine if seeds overlap as the seedlings will be thinned later on. Cover the seeds with 1/4" of fine garden soil and gently water them in. Keep the bed moist until the seeds germinate.
The arugula seeds should germinate in about a week. When the seedlings are 1" tall, thin them so that the plants are spaced 3" to 4" apart. To remove them, simply snip the plants at the soil line with a pair of scissors.
Many gardeners use shade tents to give arugula a bit of protection from the hot summer sun. Consider using floating row covers suspended by wire hoops. Secure the corners with bricks or rocks to prevent them blowing away.
Arugula is typically ready for harvest between 35 and 45 days after sowing. To harvest, simply pull the outer leaves off near the base of the plant, leaving the inner leaves to continue to grow. Many gardeners prefer to harvest the entire plant by pulling it from the ground, roots and all.
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