If onions are the vegetable that makes you cry, then arugula is the leafy green that makes you laugh. Maybe “laugh” is a bit of a stretch, but it at least makes you chuckle.
Take Steve Martin in the 1990 crime comedy My Blue Heaven. He plays Vinnie, a New York mafia snitch in witness protection experiencing suburban culture shock and has gotta get some — arugula that is.
- “Arugula! I haven’t had arugula in six weeks,” Vinnie says to a grocery store manager.
- “What’s that?” he responds.
- “It’s a veg-e-ta-ble,” Vinnie says.
- It’s a rare movie scene when a veggie gets the laugh.
That being said, arugula is also known as “Rocket” and is well known for its mildly bitter, tart, and peppery flavor. The leafy green stands about 6-12 inches, and 7 ounces has only about 50 calories while delivering valuable calcium, potassium, and vitamins A, B, C, and sometimes K. Arugula can typically be harvested in four weeks.
Maybe those things don’t necessarily inspire you to start a hydroponic arugula garden. But arugula was considered an aphrodisiac by the ancient Romans. Now you have a reason for growing arugula — adding it to your love interest’s salad. Arugula salad, honey?
Fast Facts About Growing Arugula
One of the wonderful things about this salad staple is that growing arugula hydroponically tends to be relatively easy. These are some things to consider.
- Most Suitable Hydroponic Method: Deep Water Culture System
- Best Grow Medium: Coco Coir
- Time to Germinate: 7-10 Days
- Time to Maturity: 4 Weeks
- Optimal pH Range: 6.0 to 7.5
- Optimal Nutrient Mix: CaNO3, MgSO4, and NPK
- EC Range (Nutrient Strength): 0.8 to 1.2
- Growing Difficulty: Easy
Growing Arugula Hydroponically
Water culture systems rank among the most commonly used in arugula hydroponics. That’s largely because they are so simple to make and everything the plant needs to flourish is right in the water. More than a few DIY gardeners use everyday household materials to create hydroponic gardens. These typically include the following.
- A container to hold the nutrient solution
- Home aquarium air pump
- Air stones to make bubbles
- Net pots to hold the arugula in place
- Growing medium
A deep water system doesn’t require giant vats. The term “deep” usually refers to about 8-10 inches of water. The roots remain submerged and the arugula hydroponics fast-tracks the green to full maturity.
It’s not uncommon to soak the seeds for a few hours before placing them in a moist medium. One of the faux pas to avoid is thinking they will germinate faster if left in water longer. Seeds also need oxygen, so it’s advisable to remove them from the water after 3-4 hours.
Arugula Growing Tips
When growing arugula, you can expect germination at about 7 days for seedlings, and a first harvest after about four weeks. If you have a green thumb — or you’re just lucky — expect a second harvest 1-2 weeks later. These are some quick tips on how to maximize your arugula yield.
- How Much Sunlight: 12-18 Hours Daily
- What is the Best Temperature: 50-75 degrees with an “ideal” of 65 degrees
- When to Harvest Arugula: At about 4 weeks, then again at 6 weeks.
- How to Harvest Arugula: Pinch baby greens and use gardening scissors for mature leaves
- What to Do About Arugula Bolting: Clip off white flowers as long as you can
- How to Harvest Arugula Seeds: Once the seed heads turn brown, cut the stalks, and let dry.
Leafy green aficionados may be inclined to pinch off baby greens before a fully mature harvest is ready. That tends to be okay when growing arugula, like other leafy greens. It’s important to know that arugula leaves tend to lose some of their desirability after going to seed. That’s a good reason to nip those pretty flowers, at least until after a second harvest. But seasoned growers know that if a plant wants to go to seed, that plant will find a way. The good news is that dried arugula seeds kept in cool, dry storage maintain vibrancy for several years.
Pass the wine and dressing, honey. I made you a delicious arugula salad. It’s been six weeks!
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