Arugula can grow in zones: 4-9. Arugula seeds prefer rich humusy soil with pH of 6 to 6.8, but will tolerate wide variety of conditions. Evenly moist soil will help slow bolting, which is when the plant begins to flower to makes seeds. Growth is low and compact until heat causes the plant to bolt. Plant the seeds 1/4 inch deep and 1 inch apart in rows. Arugula does best when soil temperatures are between 40-55 F. The seeds should germinate in about 5-7 days (1). When the seedlings are 1 inch tall, thin and plant them 3 to 4 inches apart (2).They should be watered daily. Arugula prefers full sun or partial shade. After 40-45 days, arugula leaves can be harvested when they are 4-6 inches long. Wrap several paper towels around the arugula leaves and store them in the vegetable compartment. Using the paper towels will prevent moisture from coming and ruining them. Arugula leaves can also be stored by chilling inside a Ziploc bag in a freezer, or drying on a clean piece of paper (3). Harvesting the young leaves encourages the plant to continue producing new leaves for several months. Without frequent harvesting, the arugula goes to seed and stops producing new leaves. Stop harvesting the leaves when you notice decreased vigor or flavor in the leaves. This allows the plant to grow taller and develop flowers, then the seeds can be collected (4).
Culinary and Medicinal Uses
Young tender arugula leaves are great to use in salads, sandwiches, and burgers. Fresh arugula can be used in soups, stews, juices, pasta, dip, and cooked as a vegetable (5). Arugula is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins A, C (to boost the immune system), and K (for bone strength), folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and manganese. It also derives a lot of nutritional value, such as antioxidant benefits from glucosinolates and detoxifying power from enzymes. Arugula also provides high levels of protein, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, zinc, copper, and pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) for raising good cholesterol levels and lowering the bad. Its flavonoid content has multiple benefits: to prevent cholesterol from sticking to arteries, lower blood pressure, increase blood flow, lower inflammation, and improve blood vessel function (6).
Significance to Cultural Communities
Native to the Mediterranean region, arugula blossoms and leaves have long been a popular ingredient in the cuisines of Italy, Morocco, Portugal and Turkey (7). In Roman times, Arugula was grown for both its leaves and the seed. The seed was used for flavoring oils. On another interesting note, Arugula has been used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions (mixture that stimulates sexual desire) back to the first century A.D., especially when combined with other natural plants with similar libido-boosting qualities, such as chicory, dill, lettuce, and lavender (8). Arugula was brought to America by British colonists but it was not until the 1990’s that arugula became known as a popular culinary ingredient in the United States (7).
From the Community Voice (an excerpt)
“I have been trying to make this dinner since July 1993. I know that sounds ridiculous — chicken with arugula and tomatoes seems almost too basic to be named something let alone to have been stuck in my brain for that long, especially since my brain has seen stickier days. (I forgot to photocopy the immunization forms for camp, again!…Again!) The thing about this dish is that the first and only time I had ever eaten it happened to have been in Florence on my first and only trip to Italy. I shared it with Andy, who was studying art there for the (very hot) summer, and it was seminal in its simplicity. Not a single extraneous anything — just the highest quality chicken, arugula, and tomatoes and some sort of bright dressing that enhanced instead of distracted from the main event. Even though I was (am) half Italian, it was probably the first time the most fundamental rule of cooking hit me: The best shortcut in the kitchen is to start with ingredients that need no help from the cook.
Of course, I was 22 in 1993 — I had no real use for shortcuts in the kitchen. Fast forward seventeen Julys — it’s 93° at 6:30, I have two hungry kids and no plan for dinner. What I do have is a bag of beautiful, fresh arugula that instantly pulls up my Florentine epiphany. And 20 minutes later, I have dinner”
- Jenny Rosenstrach, "Chicken and Arugula Epiphany." Dinner A Love Story (9).
1. "How to Grow Arugula | Guide to Growing Arugula." Heirloom Organics. http://www.heirloom-organics.com/guide/va/guidetogrowingarugula.html.
2. "How to Grow Arugula." DIY Network. http://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/outdoors/gardening/how-to-grow-arugula.
3. "Arugula | Herbatorium." Herbatorium RSS. July 14, 2009. http://www.herbatorium.com/tag/arugula/#.
4. Allonsy, Amelia. "How to Harvest Arugula." Home Guides. http://homeguides.sfgate.com/harvest-arugula-36624.html.
5. "Arugula Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits." Nutrition And You. http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/arugula.html.
6. "What Is Arugula Good For?" Mercola. http://foodfacts.mercola.com/arugula.html.
7. "Arugula." Specialty Produce. http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Arugula_301.php#sthash.5rQxyPJG.dpuf.
8. Bowman, Barbara. "Arugula." Gourmetsleuth. http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/articles/detail/arugula.
9. Rosenstrach, Jenny. "Chicken and Arugula Epiphany." Dinner A Love Story. July 12, 2010. http://www.dinneralovestory.com/warm-chicken-and-arugula-salad/.