Rocket has undergone a renaissance and a whole range of varieties are now available in a variety of leaf shapes.
Rocket ‘Dragons Tongue’ is a distinctive wild rocket variety with striking purple-red leaf veins which contrast beautifully with the dark green leaf.
It is the essence of a lightly flavoured rocket – honeyed, grassy and only lightly peppery. Something a bit little bit different for the salad bowl, whilst having excellent flavour.
Rocket ‘Dragons Tongue’ has been developed and bred in Britain. This variety will grow in even the most inclement weather conditions. The plants are bolt-resistant, so don’t run to seed, allowing you to keep picking the leaves over a long period. Easy to grow, this cut and come again variety can be harvested almost year round. Sow directly outdoors during the spring through to autumn, and under protection during the winter. The plants grow best in full sun and well-drained, moist soil.
The tangy leaves add a distinctive flavour to salads. They also give a lift to cooked dishes, add a few leaves at the end of cooking, they give a sweet and earthy, warm peppery finish to roasted vegetables, pasta bakes or risotto.
Sow directly into a bed containing any good fertile, well drained soil. Use a line to mark out the row. Sowing in a straight line allows you to identify where your rocket seedlings are and which are the weed seedlings to pick out.
Sow just a small quantity at one time, and then sow successionally, to harvest over a longer period. A 1m (3ft) row is usually enough to get you started. Late summer sowings will carry on cropping into the winter if the plants are protected by cloches.
Sow direct in spring for summer greens, and in autumn for winter greens.
Sow thinly 6mm (¼in) deep in drills spaced 45 to 60cm (18 to 24in) apart. Sow the seeds thinly along the row, spacing them out as evenly as possible. The distance between the seeds should be about 3cm. (1¼in) Cover the seed lightly with soil. Remove any weed remnants or large stones as you go to ensure the plants have a good start.
Water the seeds in well using a watering can with the rose attached. This means you drench the soil but minimise disturbance to the seeds.
Flea beetle can be a problem in summer, nibbling holes in rocket leaves. The best defence is to cover the row with a length of horticultural fleece.
Rocket will always want to flower in summer, because this is the time of year when all crucifers naturally flower, then produce seed.
As autumn approaches, cover crops with sheets of horticultural fleece to keep the cold at bay, and you could be cropping right through to first frosts.
Harvesting: 25 to 45 days.
Simply pick the young leaves and the plant will keep generating new ones for months. Older leaves are a bit tougher and hotter. Pick over the whole row rather than just one or two plants as this would weaken them.
As the flower buds appear pinch them out to prolong cropping. The flowers are small, yellow with dark centers and can be used in the salad for a light piquant flavour.
Rinse the leaves in cool water and dry on paper towelling. Wrap leaves tightly in plastic or a zip lock bag. Best if used within two days.
Arugula is a nutritional powerhouse, containing significant folate (folic acid) and calcium. Exceptionally high in beta carotene, vitamin C, and a good source of iron, Arugula is a member of the same family as cabbage and broccoli and like all such vegetables; it contains cancer-fighting phytochemicals called indoles.
You can substitute water cress for a similar peppery flavor. You can also use fresh baby spinach (but the flavour will not be the same). Also dandelion greens have a tart flavour but a bit more bitter.
The genus Diplotaxis is from the Greek diplous, meaning ‘double’, and taxis meaning ‘row’, because of the double row of seeds in the seed pod.
The species name tenuifolia means ‘with finely-divided, slender leaves’.
Eruca is a classical Latin name used by Pliny.
The term arugula (variations of Italian dialects around Arigola) is used by the Italian diaspora in Australia and North America and from there picked up as a loan word to a varying degree in American and Australian English, particularly in culinary usage. The names ultimately all derive from the Latin word eruca.
Vernacular names include Garden Rocket, Rocket, Eruca, Rocket salad, or Arugula (American English), In Italy, it can be known as Rucola, Rugola, Rucola gentile, Rughetta, Ruchetta or Rucola selvatica.
Throughout the world there are variations: Rauke or ruke (German), Roquette (French), Rokka (Greek), Ruca (Catalan), Beharki (Basque), Oruga (Spanish), Rúcula (Portuguese) krapkool (Flemish), Arugula Selvatica, arugula sylvatica, aeruca rocket, eruka psevnaya (Russian), oruga (Spanish), jaramago (Spanish),
Roman rocket, salad rocket, sciatica cress, shinlock…
In Roman times Arugula was grown for both its leaves and the seed. The seed was used for flavouring oils. Part of a typical Roman meal was to offer a salad of greens, frequently arugula, romaine, chicory, mallow and lavender and seasoned with a 'cheese sauce for lettuce'.
It has been used in England in salads since Elizabethan times. On another interesting note, Rocket or Arugula seed has been used as an ingredient in aphrodisiac concoctions dating back to the first century, AD. (Cambridge World History of Food) - …but we can make no promises!
- Additional Information
Packet Size 275mg Average Seed Count 1,000 Seeds Seed Form Natural Seeds per gram 3,700 seeds / gram Common Name Arugula, Roquette, Rucola, Rugula Other Common Names Selvatica or Sylvetta Family Brassicaceae Genus Diplotaxis Species tenuifolia Cultivar Dragons Tongue Synonym Perennial Rocket Hardiness Hardy Perennial Height 30 to 45cm (12 to 18in) Spacing 15 to 22cm (6 to 9in) Position Full sun Soil Well-drained/light, Clay/heavy, Time to Sow March to September Harvest 25 to 45 days. Time to Harvest April to November