Growing arugula: what did I do wrong?

Ok, nature wins this year… [swearing.gif]

I planted arugula from seed in mid spring; by mid June I picked off the first bunch of leaves and used them in a sandwich. That was it! After that, the leaves came in more and more scrawny looking. Then the stalks started growing tall and lanky. Everytime a flower would open (seemingly overnight) I would pinch it. For every flower/bud I’d pinch, two or three would take its place. Got to the point where I just gave in. Now I basically have a bed of wilted arugula stalks and the stray yellow-ish leaf.

What did I or didn’t I do?


It’s a cool-season crop.

So when should I have sowned the seeds? Can they go in the ground in September then?

Normally, yes. With the cool summer you’ve had you might be able to sow seeds now, but best to wait another three weeks or so. Be sure to plant more every two weeks.
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We’ve had two lone arugula plants going since late April and can barely keep up with how much of it we’re getting off them… and we love arugula. I think the climate here is perfect for leafy greens and stuff like parsley / cilantro. Basil on the otherhand is tough, and my tomatoes are still blooming (planted in April, sigh)… not even any fruit set yet!

Thanks for the link Bob.

treat arugula like radishes. stagger your plantings so you always have tender young leaves

When I lived in Fresno, I asked the Arugula lady at our Farmers Market how she kept her lettuces going in that heat. They planted in the sun in cool weather, and under trees in the heat of the summer. It seemed to work for them- even in the armpit of California.

I disagree about Fresno. The armpit of California is, was and will always be . . . Coalinga.

California is going to need more arms to support its armpits soon. How can you honestly choose between:

Moreno Valley


Plant it now. Don’t wait til September. Then plant another little strip in 2 weeks, and another 2 weeks later. The first hard frost will kill it. If you have room, put some radicchio in to. Radicchio is more cold tolerant and the staple green of Veneto. If you cane find it, it helps to get a little bird netting over the emerging plants. Get some 1 x 6 boards and make a rectangle that fits over your seed bed. Staple bird netting or chicken wire on top like a roof. Make it sturdy enough to re-use. Once the seedlings are up a few inches put it over your next bed or hang it on the fence. You’d be surprised how hungry little birds are in the fall. And braised then roasted with some sage, onion and olive oil then poured over polenta, TASTY TOO, (despite their crunchy little bones.)

One of the classic dishes from the regions surrounding the Po Valley is “osei scampai.” Which I think is dialect for “uccelli scapatti.” It translates to “birds that got away.” In my Mom’s villages in Veneto they use chicken. In my Dad’s villages they even use pork. It’s kinda taunting the hunters… but pretty hilarious and a classic dish, always to be served poured over polenta.

OK. If we have to chose one of these, I vote for Barstow.

Brawley would be a good choice, too.