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ARUGULA, (Rocket, Regula, Roquette) Cruciferae Eruca vesicaria subspecies sativa

HABITAT: Native to the Mediterranean.

USES: Young leaves are added to salad greens and also used to flavor soups.

HABIT: A cool season annual forming a rosette of dark green, irregular, wavy-edged deeply lobed leaves. If allowed to flower, hairy erect stems reach 3 feet. One inch yellowish 4 petal flowers have dark red to purple-brown veins. Leaves have a strong, tangy flavor.

SEED GERMINATION: Seeds should be sown directly outside in a sunny location where they are to grow. Seedlings may be started indoors but transplanting stress diminishes eating quality. Cover seeds lightly and maintain constant moisture (not wet) at all times. Temperature should be 60-65°F. Germination should occur in 7 to 10 days.

CULTURE: Thin plants to six inches apart, keep well watered and feed with manure tea for best results. A rich, moist soil is essential for tender, tasty leaves. Space rows ten inches apart. The first harvest may be made six weeks after planting. Continue harvesting as long as tender leaves are produced. Old leaves are coarse. Plant successive crops since plants are typically harvested from only one time. Grow in light shade during the heat of summer for best results. To achieve the best flavor, grow in a rich soil. A poor soil, hot temperatures, and lack of moisture will produce a bitter taste, a tough texture, and plants will have emetic properties.

INSECTS: Flea beetles love Arugula, cover with floating row cover completely sealing the edges or apply an approved insecticide.

DISEASES: None noted.