Arugula, otherwise known as rocket, offers a peppery flavor that tastes great in soups, as salad greens, sandwiches, and much more. Fresh arugula is also a top favorite among many, not just for flavor but also because it lasts in the fridge for two weeks after plucking.
You might need some tips for harvesting arugula, but I can't stress enough; harvesting arugula couldn't be easier.
You can even grow arugula in your vegetable garden or in your home as a house plant.
So, carry on reading; we'll give you all the secrets on how to harvest arugula seeds.
How do I know when to harvest arugula?
So, your Arugula seeds have sprouted? What next? Knowing when is as important as knowing how to harvest arugula. When will depend on whether you're planning on pinching or cutting.
It will usually take about three weeks from sowing before you can begin to harvest. As the perfect cool weather crop, you can plant arugula in USDA Hardiness Zones 3-6 when the soil thaws. You can harvest as soon as you can see three or more rows of leaves.
In the warmer 7-11 Zones, you can plant arugula in early spring to harvest in late spring; or late summer for a fall harvest.
Knowing how to harvest arugula means checking if the outer leaves are long enough. Pick the milder baby greens when they reach two inches long.
If your taste buds crave the more pungent and peppery mature leaves, you'll have to wait until the leaves are over three inches long and the plant is bigger.
Will arugula grow back after cutting?
Yes, that's the beauty of the arugula plant. Learning how to harvest arugula seeds properly means you can allow your leaves to grow back.
When cutting the leaves, make sure to leave all the new leaves on the stalk, the smallest baby leaves, and a handful of the bigger, more mature/older leaves.
You won't do your arugula any damage if you harvest half the plant in one go. Instead, cutting this salad plant back will encourage new growth for a longer harvest.
If you're routing around your garden for a few salad leaves, you can pinch off a few immature leaves from the outer edges of your arugula.
As long as you leave plenty of young leaves, they'll keep growing into maturity so you can keep cutting.
Can arugula be harvested multiple times?
Harvesting your arugula multiple times from one season is easy. Choose to graze, cut, or pull, depending on how much use you want from your arugula plant. It's easy to harvest more leaves in batches using a clean pair of gardening leaves or scissors.
Cut the more mature leaves first (look for the ones about 3 inches long) at the base of their stems.
Next, snip the younger leaves from the center of the plant, being sure to leave any new growth, some small and some bigger leaves.
Pinching only a couple of leaves off the arugula (via grazing) ensures the rest will continue to grow for multiple harvests.
Cutting involves cutting back your arugula up to a third with shears. Then, just like with grazing, your plant will grow back for multiple harvests.
If you go for the third option, you won't get multiple harvests but can pull the entire plant out of the grown for a large harvest. Do this towards the end of the season when the leaves are longer and flowers begin to form.
5 tips for harvesting arugula
There's so much more to know about how to harvest arugula seeds.
Check out the tips below to ensure your salads, garnishes, and pizzas get the best-tasting arugula.
- Always avoid harvesting in full sun to ensure your greens don't rapidly wilt after you've picked them.
- Always pick your arugula leaves during the coolest and driest time of day, usually when the sun is going down. Your arugula leaves will be freshest either at the crack of dawn or the end of the day.
- Never harvest in wet weather to avoid soggy leaves.
- If you're after an authentic peppery, spicier flavor, harvest your leaves when they are at least six inches tall. Then, cut at the base of the stalks.
- Always watch out for how hot it is outside. You might see tell-tale signs that your arugula will bolt when it's hot outside. For example, at the top of your plant may sit small, weed-like, lobe-less leaves which will shortly be followed by flowers (ready to bolt). Cur the leaves quickly before your plant bolts.
Can you harvest arugula after it bolts?
A key method to knowing how to harvest arugula is to understand when and how the plant bolts and what to do with it afterward.
As soon as the weather reaches the high 70 or 80s, arugula spouts a white flower from its stalk. Turning the leaves bitter and very peppery, most folks prefer to harvest their arugula before this point.
You'll need to harvest your entire crop by picking whole plants out of your garden, which is perfect if you need a lot of arugula for a large recipe.
But you absolutely can harvest arugula even after it has bolted. Some people are really into spicy, extra peppery flavors, like those who love curry and other spicy foods.
What do I do when my arugula flowers?
Like I said, when your arugula flowers (bolts), you can pull it all out of the ground to enjoy those mature, peppery leaves at the end of the season. As the roots are short, you can pull them easily by hand to remove the whole head and roots.
You can even cut the plant at the base, leaving the roots, and you may be in with a chance for it to grow next spring.
However, if your arugula plant has gone super wild and you notice a thick, woody stalk, you shouldn't eat that part. But, even in this case, you can pluck the leaves off the thick stalk and add them to an arugula pesto.
When people ask how to harvest arugula, they don't realize you can harvest the arugula flowers too. Although they have a robust and mustardy flavor, they are a tasty addition to any dish.
How long can you harvest arugula?
Arugula is an easy plant to keep alive for longer durations, at least until the weather gets too hot.
Practicing the ‘come and cut again' harvesting methods mentioned above means you encourage new growth by consistently harvesting, meaning you get a longer harvest.
If you enjoy a longer growing season because you live in mild summers or mild winters, you can delay flowering (bolting) with this cut and come again technique, getting even longer out of your arugula plant.