Long popular in France and Italy, the leaves of arugula provide a spicy zap when added to a salad. (Young leaves taste best.) You can also sauté or steam them like spinach or other leafy greens. Plants look a little like a dandelion, but more open. Leaves grow best in cool weather. Leafy plants grow 6 to 12 inches tall while in the harvest stage. Once they bolt in late spring or early summer, the bloom stalks may grow 24 to 36 inches with (edible!) tan-white flowers on top, which signals that it is time to make room for warm-weather crops. However, some gardeners continue to harvest the leaves even from the tall plants, liking the stronger taste. You can even cut them back and pick some more until you finally tire of that and then pull them up and wait until fall to plant again.
- Light: Full sun is best; will tolerate partial shade
- Planting time: Early spring, fall
- Maturity: 10 to 45 days after planting
- Features: Peppery, mustard-flavored leaves
- Plant size: 6 to 12 inches tall, 2 to 3 feet after bolting
* Photos and description courtesy of Bonnie Plants.