When To Harvest Arugula

Arugula is a peppery salad green that grows best in the early spring and fall when the weather is cooler. Arugula is a zesty green vegetable and part of the mustard family, with a particular flavor and taste profile setting it apart from other salad greens.

If you’re growing it in your garden, you need to ensure your arugula harvest time is before the weather heat arrives. One thing about growing arugula is that you can eat it almost immediately. Most varieties are ready to pluck in a month, and you can pick younger leaves sooner.

Even at about three weeks old, many varieties are tasty and often milder. So, you can enjoy arugula at various stages as it is among the quickest-growing plants offering an excellent yield. When you want to know when is arugula ready to harvest, we have all you need, including how to harvest arugula without killing your plant.

Harvesting Arugula

You can keep a continuous harvest by harvesting the right ways in the spring or fall. (Learn How To Harvest Romaine Lettuce)

However, to keep your plants healthy and productive, harvest at the right time using the proper techniques.

Do this, and you can harvest more than a dozen times before bloom time and the plant bolts!

In our guide, you’ll learn how to harvest arugula so it keeps growing and more tips on harvesting arugula for microgreens and seeds.

How Do You Know When To Harvest Arugula?

Like many lettuce-type crops, Arugula comes in two varieties: baby and mature.

Once immature arugula leaves reach 2-inches, they can be plucked. The smoother, less intense flavor of baby leaves makes it a favorite in salads.

Harvesting starts again as soon as the plant develops three or more sets of leaves.

Wait until the plant has grown to a size where the leaves are over 3 inches long before harvesting ripe arugula.

How to Harvest Arugula To Keep It Growing?

The key to harvesting arugula, so it continues to grow is to only take about ⅓ of the plant at a time.

  1. Start by harvesting your first round of baby arugula once you have three rows of leaves and the outer leaves are about 2 inches long.
  2. Pinch the outer leaves at the base with your fingernails or cut with sharp scissors.
  3. Once the next row of leaves emerges, you can harvest the outer row again.
  4. As the plants mature, you can harvest a more considerable number of leaves at one time. Pinch or cut the outer leaves taking only 1/3 of the total leaves with each harvest.

Aim to use fresh leaves quickly, or you can keep them in the refrigerator for up to a week.

How Many Times Can You Harvest Arugula?

Arugula is a fast-growing spicy green plant, and unless it is too hot or cold, by harvesting 1/3 of the plant only, you can wait about a week between harvests

In the right conditions, you can grow arugula and harvest arugula leaves up to a dozen times before it becomes bitter because of bolting or dying from the cold.

Another way is instead of picking individual leaves, cut the plant’s top third, and leave a few inches of the plant behind, but cut the main stem and its new leaves that generate new growth. (Learn How To Harvest Kale So It Keeps Growing)

Harvest Arugula Microgreens

How To Harvest Arugula Microgreens

Arugula microgreens or sprouts are a terrific addition to sandwiches, burgers, salads, etc. Plus, these baby greens grow quickly throughout the year.

Growing arugula microgreens in a soil pot are possible but harvesting them is easier with a microgreen growing tray.

  1. To begin, sprinkle your arugula seeds throughout the tray’s bottom, soak for 30 minutes, and drain the water from the tray’s bottom.
  2. Add fresh water, close the top and let the seeds sprout for a few days.
  3. Harvest your sprouts when they grow an inch or two.
  4. Cut your sprouts in clumps above the root. Then, harvest all at once, store arugula in a moist paper towel inside a perforated plastic bag and place it in your crisper drawer.

You can also freeze your baby greens by making pesto with olive oil. Add other herbs and freeze the pesto in ice cube trays.

What To Do When My Arugula Flowers?

Harvesting arugula plant takes place 20-50 days after sowing, depending on the type.

The fast-growing crop has a mild flavor when you harvest leaves earlier, yet the leaves become woody and bitter when mature arugula plants bolt or form flower stalks.

If you plan to harvest seeds from your plants, continue to care for them until the blossoms mature and dry.

If you don’t plan to harvest seeds, the plants should be pulled and replaced with a warm-season crop like bush beans or zucchini.

In most areas, you may plant arugula again in late summer for fall harvests.

Harvest Arugula Seeds

How To Harvest Arugula Seeds

Arugula seeds grow in long pods that look like tiny green beans. These pods will form after the flowers fade and the weather warms up.

Leave your arugula alone until the flower stalks and pods turn brown and dry.

Shake the dried stalk to check whether it’s ready to harvest. They will rattle inside the dry pods when seeds are ready like a rain stick.

If you hear this, carefully cut the stalks below the lowest pod, and take them away from your garden if you hear.

Each stalk produces hundreds of seeds, so rub the stalks between your hands over a strainer with a bowl underneath.

Seeds and debris fall into the colander as your seed pods open. All the plant material stays in the strainer, and the tiny seeds pass to the bowl. (Learn How To Harvest Rosemary Without Killing The Plant)

Keep your seeds in a paper envelope in a dark, cool space, ready for fall or spring.

How to Plant Arugula

When you grow arugula, it takes 40 days from seeding to harvest.

So, if you plan right, you can have two arugula seasons: one in the spring and early summer, and another in the late summer and early fall.

It won’t grow well during the summer heat, yet you can start planting once the soil is workable in the spring.

Sow new seeds every two to three weeks until the weather warms in the summer or frost comes in the fall for a continual harvest.

Selecting your planting site

It’s best to plant in a sunny or partly sunny location with well-draining soil, although growing in a container is also an option.

Pests and diseases affecting the Brassicaceae family may persist in
the soil, so avoid planting where other family members have been in the previous year.

Plant Support, Depth, and Spacing

Seeds should be placed about a quarter-inch deep and an inch apart in rows a foot apart.

Plants in nursery pots should be placed at the same depth as their prior container. There will be no need for a support structure.

Arugula Plant Care

Light

Arugula grows best in full sun, meaning at least six hours of direct sunlight on most days. However, it also does well in part-sun, especially in warm climates.

But as the temperature rises, provide some afternoon shade. This will help prevent the plants from wilting and bolting where they will flower and going to seed, thus extending your harvest for as long as possible.

Soil

Arugula plants are happiest in well-drained and slightly acidic to neutral soil pH. They tolerate a variety of soil types but prefer soil evenly moist and nutrient-rich.

Water

Like many vegetables, arugula needs regular watering for healthy growth and optimal flavor.

It has a shallow root system, so keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy, watering as soon as the top inch of soil feels dry.

In dry climates, this might mean watering every morning, and if you cannot water regularly, you’ll likely cause the plants to bolt and ruin the flavor of the leaves.

Temperature and Humidity

Temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit are good for arugula. It can withstand winter, but not the extreme heat of summer.

Arugula’s growing season can be extended by covering it with row covers and shading it to keep it warm.

Planting it at the right moment is the greatest strategy. It does not require high humidity and can thrive in desert locations if given enough water.

Fertilizer

It shouldn’t need additional feeding as long as you plant your arugula in nitrogen-rich soil. Pale leaves lack nourishment, so be sure to enrich your soil by mixing in compost before planting.

Pollination

Arugula is a self-pollinator, and other varieties also cross-pollinate via bees and insects, or even just the wind.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Arugula plants are resistant to disease, although bacterial leaf spot and powdery mildew are possible.

Because arugula has a short, early growing season, you’ll likely escape most insect infestations in the spring, but not if you plant again in late summer.
Slugs, cabbage loopers, flea beetles, aphids, and diamondback moths all like arugula plants.

Keep an eye out for bug eggs and manually remove any you find. Water can be sprayed on aphids to kill them. Use beer traps, diatomaceous earth, or any conventional approach to keep slugs away from the tender leaves. (Learn How To Harvest Parsley Without Killing The Plant)

How You Harvest Whole Arugula Plants

As the weather warms, your plants will bolt, producing a flower stalk and bitter leaves.

Before that happens, you want to harvest the rest of your produce by collecting whole plants from your garden.

Alternatively, if you require a large amount of arugula for a recipe, you may require the entire plant rather than just a few leaves.

Because arugula has a shallow root structure, it’s easy to pluck up plants for a large harvest. Then, pull the plant out by loosening the dirt with your fingers or a garden tool.

Another option is to cut a whole plant off about an inch above the soil level and discard the roots.

If you do this in the fall or in cool weather, there’s a chance your plants could recover and produce baby arugula leaves in a few weeks.

It’s worth a shot in the cooler weather, and even if you only get a few young leaves, it’s free.

After the plants have bolted and the cool weather approaches the end of the season, you can still consume arugula leaves but be prepared for spice and bitterness.

Another option is to harvest and consume the flowers, which are edible and have a distinct peppery flavor.

When To Harvest Arugula

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.