Name: Eruca sativa aka arugula
Type of Plant: Salad green with a slightly spicy flavor that’s in the Brassicaceae family (aka mustards or crucifers) so you know it’s nutritious. Arugula is best grown in full sun.
Why I love this: How can you not love a salad green that’s easy to grow from seed, extremely tasty, can be used in pesto and on pizza, and is able to withstand several nights of frost? I was picking arugula this year on Christmas day! Every year in the spring I buy several packages of arugula seeds and we start them as early as April in the garden. Generally we’ll make four sowings through the growing season, about every four weeks, with the last one in mid-August. That’s the crop we’re still harvesting now.
Arugula is high in vitamins C, K, and the B-complex group as well as a source of beneficial phytochemicals.
A Word to the Wise: Don’t buy arugula as plants – buy the seeds so you’ll have enough. Secondly, when the leaves are about four inches long you can start to harvest by cutting the most mature leaves off first. Later in the season when all the plants are growing large you can just harvest entire plants with scissors. If you’re growing Tuscan kale as well, you have the ingredients for a great fresh pesto through the fall and into the winter!
The younger the greens are the milder they are, so if you don’t like a strong peppery flavor harvest them early before they get too mature.