Are you an arugula lover and can’t pass up an opportunity to add this veggie to nearly everything? We hear you! The distinctive flavor of fresh arugula is incomparable in salads, soups, and other recipes; even better, arugula offers lots of health benefits. The reason why today we’ll be sharing with you everything you need to know about how to harvest arugula.
Arugula is full of antioxidants and may protect you against certain types of cancer. Arugula may also fight inflammation. It has ample vitamin K, which is good for your bones and may help prevent osteoporosis. So if you ever get the chance to grow your arugula, it is essential to know when and how to harvest arugula.
Though harvesting may initially sound intimidating, you have nothing to worry about. However, there are essential steps you ought to master first; with the right tools and equipment, you can be confident you’ll master how to harvest arugula like a pro.
How to Harvest Arugula
Harvest Arugula leaves
- Harvest arugula when the plant is 6 inches or 15 cm tall. Once it has reached this height, it should be old and full enough to be harvested.
- Choose younger leaves for a milder flavor. Most like the taste of the smaller leaves better, as they’re not as spicy. Harvest the leaves when they’re 2–3 inches long for a better, milder taste.
- Select large, older leaves for a spicier taste. The larger and more prolonged the leaves become, the spicier they’ll get. Pick off large leaves around the edges of the plant to add a kick to your recipe.
- Use sharp garden scissors for an easy cut or a serrated bread knife to remove the leaves.
- It is recommended to pinch off up to a third of the entire plant at once.
How to plant arugula?
Plant ¼-inch deep and about 1 inch apart in rows 10 inches apart. Alternatively, broadcast arugula seeds alone or mix them with other salad greens.
Seeds germinate in about a week (or slightly longer in cold soil). Speed up germination by soaking seeds in water for a few hours before planting.
Sow new seeds every 2 to 3 weeks for a continuous harvest later on.
How to care for arugula?
Keep soil evenly moist; this helps to prevent bolting in warmer weather.
Thin seedlings to about 6 inches apart, using the thinnings for salads.
To reduce heat stress and prevent bolting, provide some shade for warm-season plantings.
How do you pick arugula so it keeps growing?
Harvest the first baby leaves about 3 inches long by clipping the individual leaves 1 inch above the soil with sharp scissors. Take only a few leaves from each plant so the plants continue to produce. As the plants grow, you can harvest leaves of various sizes.
Will arugula grow back after cutting?
To harvest, cut arugula at the base of each leaf off the main stem. You can decide for yourself when the leaf is big enough for a mellow, spicy flavor and a tender green, harvest when the leaves are young about three to four inches. Arugula will grow back once cut, so don’t pull the stems.
How do I harvest arugula from my garden?
There are three ways to harvest arugula: graze, cut, or pull. Grazing means pinching a couple of leaves off the plants, leaving the rest to grow. You can do this early in the season, as soon as the leaves are two inches long. Later, you can cut up to 1/3 of the plant with shears. As with grazing, the plants will grow back. The third option is pulling out the entire plant.
How do you harvest arugula without killing the plant?
- If you want to harvest baby arugula or keep your plants alive as long as possible, the best way to gather is to pick individual leaves or practice “cut and come again” harvesting.
- You can harvest the outer leaves first and cut or pinch them off right above the plant’s crown and as close to the ground as possible. Depending on how big the plants are, you can take a handful or two of leaves from each plant, but always leave ⅓-½ of each plant intact.
- Consistently harvesting from your plants encourages new growth, so pick leaves regularly. Anytime you do a large harvest, give your plants a few days to a week to recover.
- If you have a longer growing season, you can delay flowering by practicing cut and come again harvesting.
- Instead of plucking off individual leaves, cut the top portion off of the plant. Leave several inches of the plant behind, but go ahead and cut the main stem and the young leaves attached to it. With many plants, you don’t want to cut off more than 1/3 of the plant at a time. Arugula is a vigorous grower, so you only need to leave a few inches with 3-4 leaves for it to grow back.
Would you harvest before arugula starts to bolt?
As warm weather approaches, your plants will start to bolt, which means they send up a flower stalk, and the leaves turn even more bitter than expected. Before this happens, you may want to harvest the rest of your crop.
How to store arugula?
Arugula is at its best when you eat it fresh; however, you can also keep it in the refrigerator.
To refrigerate the arugula, wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel and store them in a perforated plastic bag or loosely closed.
Place the greens in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator, where they will keep for up to 10 days.
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Harvest whole Arugula plants
- Harvest whole arugulas by simply picking entire plants out of your garden. Arugula has a shallow root system, so pulling up plants for a big harvest is not tricky.
- Just loosen the soil with your fingers or a garden tool and pull the plant out.
- Another option is to cut off a whole plant about an inch above the soil and leave the roots behind. If you do this during cool weather, there’s a chance your plants may regrow and give you some baby arugula leaves in a few weeks.
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Additional Tips on How to Harvest Arugula
- Once white flowers grow from the arugula plant, the leaves will taste more bitter once picked. Try to harvest the leaves before the flowers appear.
- Wash the scissors or knife after harvesting the arugula.
- It’s OK if you’re going to harvest all of the leaves or the whole plant, but if you want to maintain the plant after harvest, it’s best only to take off a fourth or a third of the plant material so that there’s plenty to grow and replace it immediately. This will keep the arugula healthy and thriving.
- Don’t pick arugula in full sun to keep wilting to a minimum.
- Though arugula can be preserved frozen, it is not recommended as it will lose its flavor.