If You Grow Just One Thing This Spring... Plant Arugula

We were at the greengrocer a couple months ago, slightly nonplussed because we couldn't find arugula yet. The girl at the counter told us that she just grows it herself; even through the winter, she said, it grew like wild in her containers. Hmm...we said. So when we saw tiny baby arugula at the garden center, it seemed a good idea.

Well, now look what we've got on our hands...

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Arugula gone wild! We had just hacked this nearly to the root, grabbing leaves for pizza. Then we left for the week and came back to a new bushy plant. It's lovely, tender and spicy, with aromatic juicy leaves and a faint scent. So delicious.

We love arugula because it does double duty as herb and salad green. Arugula salads with blue cheese, pears and pine nuts are classics, but we also like pasta with tomatoes, herbs, and arugula just for flavor.

Want to grow your own arugula?

• All you need to do is get a small arugula plant (or start it from seed) and plunk it into a container of good organic potting soil. Keep it moist but not wet, and cut the leaves off as they start to mature.

• As the plant grows it may sprout a few flowers; let these grow and die - they will continually reseed the arugula. The leaves do turn much more bitter as the flowers come out, though, so if you don't like that just keep picking the leaves young.

• If you don't want to wait for the plant to bolt and go to seed, buy a packet of seeds and continually reseed. This is a fast crop - it grows from seed in under 45 days. So if you keep a couple pots going and reseed every couple weeks you'll have arugula continually.

We are looking forward to fresh arugula all summer - we may start a few more plants. They're easy and practically wild.

So, if you grow just one thing this spring, make it arugula!

Related: Gardening: Creating a Summer-Long Vegetable Harvest

(Images: Faith Hopler)