Eruca vesicaria ssp. sativa
Also known as
Rucola, Arugula, Colewort, Roquette, Roket (Afr.), Salad Rocket
4 months to reach maturity
This plant has a mild fragrance
Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa is better known by the names Garden Rocket or Salad Rocket. This quick and easy to grow annual salad herb produces masses of serrated leaves that have a slightly peppery mustard taste. Rocket is tolerant of cooler conditions making it a useful salad crop to grow in pots and containers on windowsills or in greenhouses through the winter months. Rich in potassium and vitamin C, Rocket's young leaves can be picked from four weeks onwards and added to mixed salads or used as a garnish. Older leaves with a deeper taste can be treated as spinach substitute and added to a variety of cooked dishes. Summer grown crops of this salad leaf can bolt (produce flowers and seed) very quickly - like a rocket even - during hot, dry spells. Providing some shade and maintaining moisture leaves will help to keep the leaves tender and tasty.
Common problems with Rocket
Rocket is generally disease free but can be bothered by Flea Beetles which leave the leaves peppered with holes.
How to harvest Rocket
Leaves can be harvested throughout the year about four weeks after sowing. Pick leaves regularly, either treating plants as a ‘cut-and-come-again’ crop or pick a few leaves from multiple plants. If you pick lots of leaves from only one or two plants, it will weaken those plants growth. Rocket flowers are edible and can be picked and used as garnish. Allow one or two plants to go to seed. These can be either allowed to self seed, collected once ripe for either immediate use or stored in paper envelopes for the next year.
How to propagate Rocket
Undercover: Sow seeds from February onwards or direct sow from April to September. thinly into trays of pre watered compost. Create rows roughly 15cm (6") apart and 6 to 8mm (1/4") deep in trays of pre-watered compost. Sow the seeds thinly and cover with sifted compost. Germination should take between 5-12 days. When large enough to handle, seedlings will need to be thinned out to 15cm (6") apart. Add these thinning's to salads.
Special features of Rocket
Rocket is a medium feeder and needs a moderate amount of nutrients. Grow alongside other Brassicas such as Cabbage and Kale or as speed crop in between parsnips and carrots.
Can be grown in containers, indoors or outside.
Grow as a cut and come again crop on windowsills over winter.
Other uses of Rocket
Rocket is a pungent tonic herb and has a high vitamin and mineral content, most particularly rich in potassium and silica. Rocket tea is a mild stimulant and a cough remedy.
Leaves and flowers have a peppery flavour and are great in salads. The younger leaves are milder and more tender. Leaves can be lightly cooked, added to sauces, stir-fried or sautéed in olive oil.
Edible to Sow Under Cover in May
Successional sow small batches on a sunny windowsill or in a heated propagator, ready to plant out later in the month.
Edibles to Plant Out in August.
Young plants started off indoors can now be planted out.