[Market-farming] Arugula, how many plantings

Harriet Allen hattie_allen at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 10 13:38:56 EDT 2011

I grow a lot of this stuff.  At first I didn't know much about it, but have come to like it.  It is extremely popular at my market and with my customers.  I eat it now with a dressing of balsamic vinegar, Olive oil and a little tamari and Lemon...and tomatoes if I have them.  Very nice.  Very popular in Italy where it is abundantly grown and available everywhere for much less than you would buy it here for...but also eaten more mature I think than most of what I sell.  Still, mine has a very good bite to it because our weather is warm here.
In summer, it goes in each week...every week and I get one cutting from it. I learned how to do this from Paul and Alison Wiediger in Kentucky where the are a similar climate...I think they are 6B.  I'm 7A and it will get very bitter in summer and go to seed quickly if you don't harvest and use quickly.  It grows for LESS than three weeks and is planted very thickly like salad mix--I would use my earthway seeder, but it just jams up with that type of seed, so I either hand sow it, or use the little Johnnys handheld seeder...very tedious.  Would love a nice expensive seeder.  Keep it moist until it germinates.  In summer that means watering it everyday sometimes.  I cover it with rowcover and with shadecloth when it is really brutal here.  I usually give it one good quick weeding with the little colinear hoe and that is enough. It grows very quickly and outcompetes many weeds, but of course it is always nice to give it a good clean seedbed.
  I sell every bit...Often 100 bags at a market. (It is triple washed)  And what I don't sell is coveted by local restaurants--but at a wholesale price...still better than throwing it out!
In fall and spring, I have a chance to plant it less often and harvest it more than once and also sell some of it more mature.  If I cover it, it is fairly hardy and I can cut it at least until Christmas here.
If I do not cover it with rowcover, the harlequin bugs ruin it. Nevertheless, it is my best seller and the crop I probably make the most money from.  Quality is important and the ability to taste it so you know if it is really too too bitter when cutting it more mature.  Fresh arugula can't be beat.
Also, keep it COLD after harvest.  Get the heat out of it immediately, harvest in the morning and  In the refrigerator at 32 degrees.  If I do that, it will stay good for two weeks and people love that kind of shelf life.

Hattie's Garden
Lewes, DE 19958Zone 7A--about 8 miles from the ocean  
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