Name: Rocket, arugula, rucola, Italian cress, roquette Eruca sativa
Description: Rocket is an easy to grow herb with a peppery flavour. It is an annual which grows quickly, hence its name. The leaves can be used in green salads, pesto, dips and sandwiches. They are a nice addition to gourmet pizzas, in stir fries or as a ‘bed’ to place other food on instead of a bed of lettuce.
Close up of leaves
Start picking the leaves once they are about 7cm in length. The leaves become tough and bitter after the plant has flowered. The creamy white flowers are also edible.
Rocket contains the compound sulforaphane which is said to have anti cancer qualities. It is a good source of Vitamins A and C.
Size: Rocket grows to a height of about 50cm.
Conditions:Rocket grows best in fertile, well drained soil in full sun or part shade. It can be grown in pots or in the open ground. Add blood and bone and compost to the soil before planting.
Rocket prefers cooler weather and although it will survive hotter weather may ‘bolt’. Rocket will also go to seed if it is subjected to frost or allowed to dry out so mulch well.
It grows well with most other herbs and vegetables.
Rocket enjoys regular feeding with all purpose plant food, worm juice tea or fish emulsion,
Propagation:Rocket grows easily from seed planted at a depth of 3mm or sprinkle seed on the top of soil which has been turned over and cover with seed raising mix. Seed germinates in ten to fourteen days.
Packet of rocket seeds
Alternatively, seedlings can be bought from nurseries.
Plants take about two months to mature but can be picked after three weeks if you want baby leaves. Keep some of the seeds from the last plant to go to seed and use these for planting. The plants that grow from these seeds should be less likely to bolt.
When to Plant: Seeds can be planted from autumn through to spring. For a continuous supply of rocket plant a few seeds every few weeks.