Grow rocket, arugula is one of the most particular salads, due to its characteristic spicy flavor that makes it ideal in the kitchen to give sparkle to different recipes. A salad that is not just a side dish but can be used in sauces or as an aromatic herb to combine with meats and cheeses, or to put on toast and wraps.
The rocket is also called arugula or ruca, its botanical name is Eruca vesicaria and is a plant of the Brassicaceae or cruciferous family, therefore a relative of cabbage and radishes. As a property, the vegetable has a good content of mineral salts and the fresh rocket is also rich in vitamin C.
It is a very simple plant to grow and productive, which is why it is a recommended cultivation of the organic family garden. From the point of view of adversity, it often happens to find the leaves pierced by Altica and other small insects, which do more aesthetic damage than substance. The beauty of this crop is that it is very rustic and therefore can be kept for a good part of the year. It also has a short crop cycle, so from sowing to harvesting the step is short.
How to sow rocket
Suitable climate. Rocket is very adaptable and is therefore particularly easy to put in the garden. Like many other garden crops, it fears water stagnation, which favors getting sick, and drought, which can cause it to grow early to seed. Frosts can damage it but it resists the cold well, withstanding temperatures up to 5 degrees.
The ideal terrain. Any type of soil is good for growing a rocket, with a preference for a soil that is draining but rich in organic substance, not tending to dry out in the heat.
Sowing period. Rocket can be sown from March to September, however, with tunnel cultivation it is possible to extend the cultivation period and have this fresh salad available for harvest practically all year round. Arugula seeds last a long time: a sachet of seeds purchased during the year can also be used for 4 years. The rocket germinates quickly and has a rapid growth: a week after sowing you will already see the seedlings sprout and after a while, you can collect the first leaves to put in salads.
Sixth of planting or broadcasting. The rocket can be sown easily by broadcasting, or in rows. Broadcasting is faster, the seeds are sown and then raked light, to cover them with earth. Sowing in rows, on the other hand, has the advantage of a better distribution of the plants, which remain well ventilated. In this case, it is necessary to keep 25 cm between the rows and 5/10 cm between the plants. The seed must be buried at a shallow depth, even half a centimeter is enough.
Growing in pots
Being an undemanding plant, the rocket is also well suited to growing in pots, has no particular requirements in terms of soil, and can also be placed in a medium-small pot.
To obtain good results, it is advisable not to sow rocket on the balcony too dense, to leave spaces that allow you to wet the earth without irrigating directly on the leaves of the plant and that favor the recirculation of air between the leaves.
Arugula is a simple plant to grow, which, except for anchovies, has few problems with diseases and parasites and which requires low maintenance, also thanks to its short cultivation cycle.
Intersociations and rotations
The rocket as a plant does not have major problems of intercropping and alternation: it adapts to any other crop and can be close to any horticultural that leaves enough space for its leaves.
As always, it is better to rotate, avoiding that the rocket follows cultivation of rocket of the previous year, but also of other plants of the same family, therefore to avoid succession with cabbage and radishes and especially with oriental brassicas such as mizuna and mibuna, which they have very similar characteristics to rocket.
Irrigation. Arugula requires frequent watering after sowing and until the seedlings are rooted, after which it becomes a little more tolerant. In any case, if the rains do not intervene, it is still a plant to be wet. Irrigation on rockets should be done often but with little water, it does not like large quantities of water but it is necessary to wet frequently to keep the soil moist. The same philosophy for growing rocket on the balcony, compared to the vegetable garden, however, the cultivation in pots needs an even more regular supply of water.
Weeding. Weeding is necessary, both to keep the soil ventilated and to keep it clean from weeds and weeds, which if they develop a lot can suffocate the arugula seedlings.
Diseases and pests. Rocket plants fear altic lice, terrestrial lice that pierce the leaves of the rocket and generally attack crucifers. Apart from these ground fleas, they are quite resistant plants, also thanks to their short cycle. If they are planted well spaced, they do not fear fungal diseases, so on naturally humid soils, it is better to choose to sow by row rather than broadcast.
Collect the rocket
The leaves of the rocket can also be plucked immediately, obviously, it is better to wait until the plant is strong enough to be able to vegetate again without difficulty, therefore generally it is expected that the leaves reach 7-8 cm in height. This height is usually reached in about a month after sowing, which is the ideal time to start the harvest.
The young leaves are the most tender, while growing up they become a bit more leathery. To carry out the harvest, the leaf is cut near the collar, a plant can throwback even 5-6 times, so it continues to harvest.
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