South Texas Gardening with Bob Webster

Argula



Arugula is an aromatic salad green. It is also known as rocket, roquette, rugula and rucola, and is popular in Italian cuisine.
In Roman times Arugula was grown for both it's leaves and the seed. The seed was used for flavoring oils.  On another interesting note, Rocket or Arugula seed has been used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions dating back to the first century, AD. (Cambridge World History of Food).
 Part of a typical Roman meal was to offer a salad of greens, frequently Arugula (spelled Arugola), romaine, chicory, mallow and lavender and seasoned with a "cheese sauce for lettuce"
Grow Arugula At Home:
Arugula is one of those great, simple greens to grow at home. Sow the seeds in a sunny location in succession plantings (approximately every 20 to 30 days) from early spring to fall.

Arugula performs best in spring to early summer. After that time, plant it under the shade of an "airy" tree (not dense shade), or under shade cloth. It is not fussy at all, although too much drought and summer heat will cause the leaves to be smaller and more "peppery".

This plant does go to "seed" fairly quickly. But use the flowers in your salads and collect seeds for future plantings. And if you make your "succession" plantings, then the new plants will be ready as the older plants are going to seed.
Harvest:
To harvest simply pick the young leaves and the plant will keep generating new ones for months. Older leaves are a bit tougher and hotter.

The flowers are small, white with dark centers and can be used in the salad for a light piquant
flavor.
How to Store:
Rinse the leaves in cool water and dry on paper toweling. Wrap leaves tightly in plastic or a zip lock bag. Best if used within two days.
Substitutes:
You can substitute water cress for a similar peppery flavor. You can also use fresh baby spinach (but the flavor will not be the same). Also dandelion greens have a tart flavor but a bit more bitter.
 
Source: http://www.gourmetsleuth.com/Articles/Produce-440/arugula.aspx

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