Arugula: A Wonderful Herb to Plant in Your Garden

When it comes to salad greens, one of the most popular is perhaps arugula. It is known not only for its color but also for its aroma and flavor. Also called Rocket, Rucola, or Rugula, it is a staple in French and Italian cuisine, but has also grown popular all over the world because of its numerous applications, even outside of culinary uses.

Do you know where Arugula came from? Are you curious about its health benefits and its many other applications? Are you interested in planting arugula in the garden? Keep on reading the rest of this post, and we’ll share valuable insights with you.

What is Arugula and Where Is It From

Eruca SativaArugula is a cruciferous vegetable, although it is often overshadowed by its more famous counterparts, such as broccoli and kale. It has bite-size and tender leaves, which are known for their tangy flavor. Its botanical name is Eruca Sativa. It may be referred to as a ubiquitous salad green today, but it has a long history of use beyond food.

According to several historical accounts, arugula has been first planted in the European and Mediterranean regions, the same places where it is popularly incorporated in salads. One of the evidence that arugula has been long existing is the fact that it is a plant that appeared in the bible several times. In the Book of Kings from the Old Testament it was mentioned, although under a different name. It was called Oroth, but historians believe that arugula is the biblical green that is referred with such.

In Jewish holy writings, specifically from Talmud & Mishna, arugula has also been mentioned. These writings have been around since the first century AD. Josephus, a Jewish historian, also said Arugula.

For the ancient Romans, arugula was also planted, but for a different purpose. They believed in its effectiveness as an aphrodisiac. Back then, it was called eruca. One of the most famous personalities of the Roman times referred to arugula as an effective way to excite the sexual desires of people who are drowsy.

Pliny the Elder, a lawyer and soldier, has also written and researched about arugula. He has an encyclopedic masterwork that chronicled the different applications of arugula during his time. Based on his works, arugula is historically used as an aphrodisiac and natural anesthesia, among others.

In United States of Arugula, which was documented by David Kamp, the author has explored the modern history of the use of arugula. Based on his findings, at one point, the popularity of this herb rivaled that of free-range chickens, heirloom tomatoes, and artisanal cheeses.

What are the Different Varieties of Arugula

The following are the common types of arugula that you will find:

Also known as Eruca Selvatica or Rustic Arugula, one of its biggest differences with its counterparts is that it does not sprout quickly. Its sprouts might appear only after two weeks. It also has thinner leaves with a darker color compared to its sibling.

Wild Italian Arugula

This is the more traditional type of arugula, which is also known as Eruca Sativa. This variety of arugula can germinate already within just three days, making it perfect for impatient gardeners. It has rounder and broader leaves compared to what you can find from wild Italian arugula.

Common Arugula

In this variety of arugula, it has long and strap-like leaves. The most attractive characteristics of this plant are its ability to withstand the heat. With this, this is what you should grow in the garden if you live in a place with a hot climate.

Astro Arugula

Benefits for Your Health

For centuries, arugula has established a global reputation because of its medicinal value. With this, the following are just some of the health benefits that it can deliver:

  • Prevention of Cancer: As a cruciferous vegetable, Arugula has a high content of glucosinolates, which can be considered as the one responsible for protecting the body from cancer. Once eaten, it breaks down into powerful compounds that can help to deter the growth of cancer cells.
  • Healthy Weight: Are you struggling with weight loss? Your diet should consist of a lot of dark and leafy vegetables, which include arugula. Every two cups of serving only contain eight calories. It is excellent for a low-calorie diet while making sure that your body still gets the vitamins and minerals that it needs.
  • Improvement of Digestion: If you often suffer from digestive issues, Arugula can also offer an effective solution. It is a hydrating food, which will provide the nourishment that is needed by the digestive tract. It is also an alkaline food, making it excellent in restoring your natural pH level.
  • Diabetes Management: Comparable to other leafy vegetables, it contains alpha-lipoic acid, which has the reputation of being effective in lowering the level of glucose in your blood. It is also believed that such compound helps in slowing the nerve damage amongst diabetics.
  • Prevention of Osteoporosis: As you grow old, your bone health will be affected. The bones will end up being more brittle and won’t be able to provide the support that your body needs. Eating arugula can be a good thing as it is a potent source of Vitamin K, which will lower the tendency of suffering from a bone fracture. Also, it will make sure that your body will absorb calcium, which is crucial for bone health.
  • Clarity of Vision: Several studies in the past have also proven how arugula can be instrumental in having better vision. It contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are two antioxidants that can be good for the eyes. They will provide the protection that is needed by the eyes from UV damage and macular degeneration.
  • Cardiovascular Health: If you want to have a stronger heart, you must be able to find ways to incorporate arugula in your diet. It can help in regulating blood pressure, which is already one reason why it is good for the heart. It contains vitamins that will make you less susceptible to heart diseases.
  • Boosts your Libido: Since the ancient times, Arugula is already known for being an aphrodisiac. In a study conducted in mice, it was proven to be effective in boosting testosterone, as well as sperm production. If your sex life is boring, try Arugula!
  • Anti-Inflammation: It is also known to be anti-inflammatory. It can increase the defense of the body from damages in the tissues that can result to swelling and excruciating pain. It also has Omega-3 acids that will be helpful in improving the healing of the parts of the body that are affected by inflammation.

Culinary and Other Applications

Now that you know the many health benefits of arugula, you might be hooked with this herb. When you learn about its culinary applications and other uses, for sure, you will love it even more. You will question yourself why you have not yet planted it in your herb garden.

  • Salads: This is perhaps the most popular use of this aromatic herb. Whether it is vinaigrette or balsamic, regardless of the other veggies that are used, arugula will be a delicious treat for a healthy meal. It has peppery notes and chewy leaves that are sure to be a treat for the mouth.
  • Pizza: The distinct aroma of arugula will also make it an excellent choice for pizza toppings. This will work perfectly work for a frozen pizza that has been store-bought. Lemon vinaigrette and arugula will be perfect!
  • Sandwiches: Eating healthy does not need to be too much of a sacrifice. If you want a healthy snack, a sandwich that uses whole grain bread is a good idea. You can add Arugula, which will provide the sandwich with more flavor compared to using lettuce.
  • Pasta: Tossing arugula in your pasta while it is dressed with your choice of sauce will give it a unique flavor. You can top your pasta with its leaves or add it to your sauce when it is already almost cooked.
  • Soups: When cooking your soup, before taking it out from the source of heat, you can consider adding arugula leaves. Make sure to add it only when the soup is almost done. Otherwise, the leaves will wilt and it can be too bitter.
  • Eggs: Looking for a healthy way to start your mornings? Why not eat an omelet that contains tomatoes, arugula, and other greens? You can also consider adding your meat of choice.
  • Liqueur: This is made in Ischia, which is found on the Neapolitan coast. This arugula-flavored liquor comes with a distinct flavor and aroma. It has a lovely and soft palate. The aftertaste is bitter, which can be attributed to the use of arugula as one of its main ingredients.
Pizza with Arugula

The Distinct Aroma of Arugula Makes It an Excellent Choice for Pizza Toppings

How to Effectively Grow Arugula

Given all of the beautiful things about arugula that has been mentioned above, it is no longer surprising that many people would love to have it in the garden. If you are thinking of the same thing, the following are some of the most important things you should consider.

Best Ways to Plant

If you live in a place where it is cold, there is no need to worry. Arugula is known for its ability to resist even cold temperatures. The best way to plant this herb is through its seeds. Start by sowing the seeds, preferably in spring or late summer. During this time, it is best to have it planted in a location that receives full sun. On the other hand, if you will plant it when the weather is already too hot, it will be good if you can find a shade that will serve as protection from the extreme weather during the first few weeks of the plant.

When planting the seeds, sow it at a depth of at least ¼ inch. More so, make sure that there is at least an inch of space in between each plant. Gradually, space should be increased to six inches.

More often than not, it will take at least four weeks before the plant can grow. This, of course, will depend on the external conditions, such as the effort that you exert to make sure that the herb will thrive.

How to Harvest

When can you begin harvesting the leaves of your plant? This is quite tricky, especially for someone who does not have extensive gardening knowledge. Generally speaking, it will take approximately 40 days before you are ready to harvest arugula.

During the harvest time, pick off the tender leaves from the outside of the plant, starting from the base. Do not harvest from the center. Instead, leave it growing so that you can harvest it in the future. It will also be best to throw away large leaves as they are usually bitter. When harvesting, never pull the whole plant. If you want the supply to be continuous, pick only the amount of leaves that you will need.

Harvest Arugula

Pick off the Tender Leaves from the outside of the Plant

Once you have harvested the leaves, you have the option to use it fresh. If you will save it for use later on, proper storage and handling are necessary to preserve its freshness. Rinse it with cool water and dry using paper towels. Wrap it in plastic or keep in a container with an air-tight seal. For best flavor, be sure to use it within two days.

Care and Maintenance

The good thing about arugula is that growing the plant does not take too much of an effort on your end. Maintaining the right condition of the soil is important. Ideally, it should have a pH level of 6 to 6.5 It can also grow in well-drained soil, but if such is the case, you need to water it more frequently to provide the moisture that is necessary for the plant’s survival.

Fertilizing the soil is one thing that will prove to be necessary if you want the plant to be healthy. While many fertilizers can prove to be effective, one that you ought to consider would be a fish emulsion, specifically if there are yellow leaves. If there are flea beetles, on the other hand, adding a free cover will be a good way to protect the plant from infestation.

Conclusion

If you love salads, arugula is one thing that you should plant in the garden. The good thing is that this aromatic herb is useful beyond salads. Outside of the culinary world, it can also have several uses. Plus, as it has been noted above, it is packed with an abundance of health benefits. With this, if you are thinking of growing arugula, pay attention to the tips that have been mentioned above, and it will easy for you to achieve successful outcomes.

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