Arugula

Eruca sativa

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Description

Arugula, Eruca sativa, is a leafy annual vegetable in the family Brassicaceae which is grown as a salad green. The arugula plant possesses a rosette of basal leaves which grow low to the ground. The leaves of the plant are deeply lobed and dull green in color. The plant produces clusters of white or light yellow flowers which will develop into a seeded fruit. Arugula will reach maturity after 45–60 days and can reach a height of 20–100 cm (7.9–39.4 in). Arugula may also be referred to as rocket, roquette, rucola, or rugula and originates from the Mediterranean regions of Morocco and Portugal.

Uses

Arugula leaves are sharp tasting and can be used in salads or as a seasoning. They can also be cooked prior to consumption.

Propagation


Basic requirements
Arugula is best grown in the cooler temperatures of Spring and Fall as summer temperatures trigger flowering and the leaves become excessively bitter. Arugula grows best in full sun in a rich, well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 8.0. The plants can tolerate some light shade, particularly in hotter temperatures.

Planting
Arugula is commonly direct seeded and can be planted 1 to 2 weeks before the last frost date. Seeds can also be started indoors 4-6 weeks prior to the last frost to get a head start on the growing season. Arugula grows best in cool temperatures but can be damaged by frosts so it is best to provide it with cover if a late frost is forecast. Plant seeds by sprinkling on the ground and lightly covering with soil. Keep the soil moist. The seeds should germinate in 3 to 10 days.

Harvesting
Arugula is ready to harvest in about 40 days. Harvest leaves from the outside of the plant by pinching them off with your fingers or snipping them with a pair of scissors. The center of the plant should be left undisturbed to promote new growth.

Diseases

Bacterial leaf spot (Bacterial blight) Bacteria Pseudomonas syringae
Xanthomonas axonopodis

Symptoms

Small water soaked or brown spots on leaves; yellowing leaves

Comments

More common in cold temperatures; spread by seed or water splash

Management

Treat seeds with hot water prior to planting; remove infected plants immediately to prevent spread; do not wet foliage when watering; rotate crops regularly

Downy mildew Fungus Peronospora parasitica

Symptoms

Irregular brown flecks or spots on tops and bottoms of leaves; downy mold on underside

Comments

Spores can travel long distances by wind; poor air circulation and moisture can encourage fungal growth

Management

Do not wet foliage, water plants from base; avoid overcrowding plants; remove infected plants and any debris from soil

White rust Fungus Albugo candida

Symptoms

White blisters or pustules on underside of leaf; upper leaf turning yellow; leavaes necrotic

Comments

High moisture and cool temperatures encourage growth and spread of white rust.

Management

Rotate crops with non-cruciferous varieties to prevent disease build up; plough plants into soil; apply fungicide to foliage and soil

References

Morales, M. and Janick, J. (2002). Arugula: A promising specialty leaf vegetable. p. 418–423. In: J. Janick and A. Whipkey (eds.), Trends in new crops and new uses. ASHS Press, Alexandria, VA. Available at: http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/nc.... [Accessed 05 November 14]. Free to access.

Cornell University (2006). Arugula Growing Guide. Cornell University Vegetable Growing Guides. Available at: http://www.gardening.cornell.edu/home.... [Accessed 05 November 14]. Free to access.