"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Monday, May 23, 2011

Perennial Arugula

In keeping with our annual tradition of yearly experimentation we have once again planted numerous "new to us" varieties of edible plants this season. Ranging from various herbs and lettuces to bushes and trees, we are looking forward to seeing how they all perform and hopefully I will be able post my thoughts on them as spring and summer begin to unfold.

Anyway, this year's salad and herb garden is starting to take shape, albeit very slowly as the weather has only recently started to moderate a bit. In this section of the garden, nestled in amongst the oregano and lettuce are a couple patches of a plant whose seeds were graciously shared with me back in 2009 or early 2010 I believe...thanks Mavis.

Perennial Wild Grazia arugula (Diplotaxis tenuifolia)


Unlike regular arugula that normally behaves as an annual, often bolting to seed much sooner than the gardener would like, perennial Grazia seems to grow somewhat slower and is apparently much more heat and cold tolerant than common arugula...leastwise that has been our limited experience with this particular variety. The plant has deeply lobed leaves and yellow flowers with a much stronger flavor than its quick growing counterpart and we are excited to continue adding this pungent green to our spring and summer salads as the new growth continues to emerge.

While I did not have much luck collecting seeds from Grazia last fall it nonetheless took matters into it's own hands and readily self-sowed. I was surprised at how long it held in the garden before finally flowering and setting seed on it's woody branches sometime in late August. Unlike lettuce and other greens the mature plants seem to have a sturdy root system and woody stems more in line with certain herbs and small bushes.

There is not a lot of information available online regarding this type of arugula but it would appear that perennial Grazia can be sourced from either Siegers Seed Company in the US or Mr. Fothergills in the UK, neither of whom I have ever purchased seed from. There is also another variety of perennial wild arugula (Diplotaxis muralis) available through Heirloom Seeds.

Anyone else have experience growing perennial arugula?

49 comments:

Malay-Kadazan girl said...

I have never grown arugula yet so I don't know now much about them. The way you describe it, I am tempted to have a go on it come spring as our new edibles. Your farm look so lush with green.

Mavis said...

Mr. H where have you been? Obviously you have not been at Albertsons double coupon shopping for preservative filled junk food ;) I can't wait until real food starts growing again in my backyard garden. What I wouldn't give/trade for the taste of a real tomato.

Buttons said...

I love coming here I always learn so much. I am still waiting to plant it is raining again and very cool.Things do not grow as well in my basement. Darn rain I want to get out into the dirt. Thanks for always teaching us about gardening experiences. I am sure you will have great luck with your new plants. B

Anne said...

Happy to see you post! Always inspiring. Seriously, every time I am planting I think about you 2!

Carolemc said...

Hi Mr H - I was very interested to read about your perennial Arugala. I sowed some Wild Rocket in the polytunnel last year (from Duchy Seeds) and let it go to seed and spread the seed about.

I was thrilled to find it self sowing all over the bed earlier this year, and we've really enjoyed it in our early salads. Some of the plants are flowering now, whilst other babies are still popping up.

Nothing better than free!

Kelle said...

Your garden looks lovely! We're so wet, nothing much growing in the outside gardens due to over 8" of rainfall this past week. I did see the radishes, lettuce, and Kale peeking through and I'm praying the potatoes are okay, our soil is sandy so they should be*sigh*

I love plants that volunteer, we have plenty of mustard and New Zealand spinach that reseeded itself, which is a blessing because we din't get their seeds collected either. Fall the time of year we truly need to replicate ourselves about 5 times, LOL!!!!

Thankfully we have the hoop house and the salad crops planted in there, otherwise we're out several weeks still for the salad crops in the outside gardens. The soil temps is only between 58F and 62F. It's supposed to quite raining and warm up by mid week, please pray this happens.
Due to all the rain and early snow melt( due to rain in the mountains) many areas in and around us are flooding. We live on the Clark's Fork River and in 3-4 days time it's doubled in it's rising waters. I think we'll be okay and not flood, but where all this water converges in the Yellowstone River, it's not looking so good. :o(

Farmers are now excited about their first cutting of hay, if we can get a dry enough spell to swath it and allow it to cure,( it's always a challenge one the hay is down, getting it cured and baled before rain hits)

Glad to see a post from you, we understand busy, even if we're not busy in the garden planting or harvesting we're busy elswhere*wink* on the farm.
Blessings for your week,
Kelle

villager said...

Very interesting. There must be several of these strains of "wild" arugula out there. I planted one this year from Fedco they call Diplotaxis erucoides. I've got it in a planter for the time being but I hope to have it this winter in the greenhouse. The taste of mine is stronger that regular arugula too. It has just now started flowering here, with yellow blooms. The other types have seed pods that are almost ripe already!

Julie said...

I have some Olive Leaf arugula grown last year from seeds gifted to me by a SSE member. Small leaves, yellow flowers, strong flavor, sounds like a cousin!
I pulled the plants out last fall but volunteers have erupted along the grassy edge of the bed it was growing in. Smells delicious every time i mow ; ) Flower buds make a tasty addition to salads when the grass gets long.

LynnS said...

Ha! You threw me on this one -- I thought this was Rocket then after some reading I realized it was one in the same. Duh!

Your garden looks great and your greens appear much further along than ours do. Are you sure you're in the Arctic???? ;-)

Mark Willis said...

I've never heard of this type of Aragula before, but I'm certainly going to investigate further (espcially since I often buy from Mr.Fothergill's). I never seem to have much luck with the annual type of Rocket / Aragula. Mine always bolts prematurely and I get a very poor harvest.

Silke said...

I have never heard of a perennial arugula. We grow lots of arugula every year - it is one of our favorite salad greens!! Your garden is look very good!! :) We are enjoying summer heat already... Silke

Phoebe said...

Yes, I grow perennial rocket, the seeds that I bought originally were Diplotaxis tenuifolia 'Sylvetta'. It too has woody stems and continues to regenerate after picking.
I let some bits go to seed (which it likes to do in the summer), but if I cut off the flowers it goes back to leaf production...

Mike said...

I have never had arugula but you make me want to try it! Hope your spring is going well. Im sure things are busy for you guys!

kitsapFG said...

Wow! The garden picture is quite a contrast from the previous post picture! ;D Everything is greening up nicely.

Interesting new plant you are trialing. I am not a big arugula fan so I will be passing this one by - but I do love to learn about various plants even if I am not going to grow them personally.

Mr. H. said...

Malay-Kadazan girl - I think you would really like arugula. It is pretty cold hardy and might do better for you during the winter months in Australia.

Mavis - Where have we been, well we were waiting for the end of the world to come of course, but when it didn't I decided we had better get busy with gardening again...ha ha. I am so looking forward to the taste of real tomatoes too....if it ever stops raining perhaps we will b eable to set our plants out.:) Thanks so much for those seeds, I just love this Grazia plant.

Buttons - We have been fighting the rain as well but were fortunate to have a few days of sun off and on of late...unfortunately it is back to the rain this week. Hope your weather clears up soon so that you can get your hands into the good earth and start planting.

Anne - Thanks you Anne, hope you have a wonderful gardening season this year despite all of the challenges you have experienced of late.

Carolemc - Free is always good and one of my favorite things about arugula is its ability to self seed so readily...its nice when the garden plants itself.:)

Kelle - It' been rainng a lot here (Coeur d'alene area) as well. Three of the six new Crimson Rhubarb we purchased and planted rotted in the ground but luckily we have a much sandier soil than you so everything else should be fine I hope.

Hope it dries up in your area soon and that your potatoes are OK. It sure has been a cold dreary spring this year, lets hope that June brings with it some warmer weather more suitable for gardening...even our various brassicas have been slow to develop this season.

Hope you don't experience too much flooding...there is still quite a bit of snow in the mountains.

Villager - We are trying Diplotaxis erucoides from Fedco too...still waiting for it to germinate though. The nice thing about the Grazia being a perennial is that it has developed leaves much sooner than the regular arugula that I sowed from seed as it already has a nice root system from the previous year.

Julie - Olive leaf arugula sounds interesting, I'll have to look it up. I never thought about using the flower buds in salads and will have to remember to give that a try...cool.:)

Mr. H. said...

Lynn - The Oregano bushes in the picture and grazia arugula are doing great but the rest of the garden is still quite barren. Our raspberries have just started to leaf out but I think warmer weather is on the way and soon everything, especially the weeds, will start to take off..I hope.

The problem with some of these varieties of arugula is that different subspecies often have the same name. For example - Diplotaxis erucoides (an annual)and Diplotaxis muralis (a perennial) are sometimes both called Sylvetta arugula...which make it confusing when one is trying to find the perennial variety. The same issue arises between perennial and annual "rocket" ...anyway, I have been struggling to figure out which varieties are long lived and it would appear that only the two I listed in my post are perennial...as far as I could figure out.

Mark - You really must try the variety from Fothergill's, that is what I am growing and I think you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better it holds in the garden in comparison to regular arugula.

Silke - Please quickly send some of that warmth our way...it's raining here again today and if it does not stop soon I will have to take up drinking some of Micki's valerian root tea "nature's valium"...and I would rather not as the roots smell like dirty socks and the tea doesn't taste much better than the roots smell.:)

Phoebe - Thanks for the information, maybe I will let the flowers form in one of our patches and keep the other patch of arugula trimmed back this year. Until I planted the Grazia seeds last spring I had no idea that there even were perennial forms of arugula...pretty neat plants.

Mike - We have been very busy and the garden is off to an oh so slow start this year but we are having a great time nonetheless. I hope you do try growing arugula, they sell the regular variety at Northwest Seed and I think you would really like the pungent flavor it adds to ones salad..it is also great as a pizza topping or in pasta dishes.

Laura - No arugula for you?:) That's OK, there are definitely some plants that I like better than others as well. The garden is finally starting to grow but I am truly surprised about how slow both the brassicas and especially salad greens have been growing for us, they are just now starting to look like something worth harvesting...almost. We have had excellent germination on our core crops of carrots, beat, parsnips, and so on though, so I am happy about that...especially since I was a bit worried as everything has been so very slow to germinate this season. Raining again today but we are supposed to have sun tomorrow...fingers crossed. Hope your week has a few sunny days in it as well.

Ms. Adventuress said...

SPRING is finally here and SUMMER is nearly here! (No more snow, right?!) LOVE the post. Wonders, the self-seeders.

Gingerbreadshouse7 said...

Well hello! glad your blogging again, wondered if you got sick eating all the food you were growing and harvesting :o)...Like always I'm learning more things visiting here...That Arugala looks like dandelion greens < I love them, nice and bitter. I'm going to look for some seeds.

Mr. H. said...

Ms. Adventuress - Yes, no more snow!:) Summers coming, I can feel it...sooner than later I hope.:)

Ginny - Finally! A fellow lover of dandelion greens...good for you. We have a row of them planted in the garden and always get a kick out of all the wierd stares and comments it brings from our customers...no one can fathom eating a dandelion.:) They are one of the original European salad greens after all...we should all be eating them, the world would be a healthier place. Have you ever considered growing Belgian endive for greens? If you like dandelions you would love Belgian and other types of endive.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

wow looks great! my arugula just bolts. boo! and our garden just looks like a big mud pit. so i speed-watched DWTS and i think Hines is going to win. he had the best freestyle performance.

michelle said...

I can second Julie on her recommendation of Olive Leaf Arugula (diplotaxis integrifolia). I found seeds for it at gourmetseed.com. The wild arugulas volunteer all over my garden now and are almost weedy, the roots are so long that it's almost impossible to get them entirely out and they do resprout from root fragments. I don't mind though.

Heiko said...

It sounds like what we call 'wild rocket' or in Italian 'rucola selvatica'. It doesn't quite do perennial, but happily self sows, is much more intense in flavour and grows slower than the cultivated variety. Most locals here prefer this variety.

Ms. Adventuress said...

It's a pear and dark leafy green (spinach, cilantro) smoothie, with a bit of water to expedite the blending. (And a cucumber chunk or two tossed in, here and there. :o)

Mr. H. said...

Ohio - Our main garden is pretty sloppy too, but It's not so bad that I have to dump gravel on it yet.:) Mrs. H is betting on Hines too...I still can't believe we "try" to stay up and watch that show...

Michelle - Do you know if the Olive variety is an annual or perennial, I can't seem to find that information online? Either way it sounds like a wonderful variety.

Heiko - They are no doubt very similar and I think that I might prefer these wilder varieties more than the regular as well...although I like them all of course.:)

Ms. Adventuress - Yummy.:)

Elizabeth said...

can we just come camp out on your property and be your "interns"--learning from you and enjoying your amazing greens????
Peace and Raw Health,
E

Mr. H. said...

Elizabeth - I could sure use some help weeding...ha ha.:)

Geno said...

Thanks for the info. I love arugula and maybe we will get some going next year. We have actually had a decent week here weather wise, so we were finally able to get some work done out there!

Mr. H. said...

Hi Geno - I would assume that your weather has turned ugly again just like ours but we were also very fortunate to have enjoyed a few nice days in the garden...hope June is a much better month for both gardening, hiking, and foraging. As to foraging, we found a very small amount of morels, lots of nettle, and have been drying wild parsley. Hope both Mommy and baby are doing well.:)

WeekendFarmer said...

WOW! You will be a rich man if you sold that at our farmers market here. Very interesting that you have this as a perennial. I never knew that was possible. Off to seed shopping I guess : ).

kelli said...

hi mr. h, can you recommend a good book/site for winter gardening in a hoop house? i feel like you've mentioned some here before but i can't seem to find it...

Mr. H. said...

WeekendFarmer - It would be a good one for farmers markets, who wouldn't want a nice pot of perennial arugula.:)

Kelli - Eliot Coleman has a couple of books that deal extensivly with growing cold weather crops in coldframes and hoophouses - "Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long" and "The Winter Harvest Handbook: Year Round Vegetable Production Using Deep Organic Techniques and Unheated Greenhouses."

Also, Niki Jabbour has a site called Year RoundVeggieGardener and a new book coming out called "The Year Around Vegetable Gardener: How To Grow Your Own Food 365 Days A Year No Matter Where You Live." that sounds interesting.

Mrs. Mac said...

I've only had the annual arugula. A few weeks ago I bought a pony plant package of romaine & various salad mixes .. the arugula has already bolted .. Our tomato plants our planted after hardening them for two weeks on the front porch .. but I've got 'wagon schooner' type hoops with fabric covering them and the pepper plants/eggplant to keep them warm the past few days. Our raspberries have buds .. and strawberries are forming on the June berries. I even bought a few heirloom tomato plants to mix in with the ones I started from seed .. just as an extra measure of having a good crop. I LOVE all the new raised beds with GOOD soil we have been planting in. You and the Mrs. need to come over .. maybe for another little swap (fresh roasted coffee beans as an offering;)

Lrong said...

Greetings from Japan!
You have such a fine blog and garden/farm... and there are a lot of things to learn from your blog... shall be back for more...

Mr. H. said...

Mrs. Mac - Sounds like your garden is off to a great start, our raspberries are also starting to leaf out a bit but your strawberries are way ahead of mine. I love the idea of covering your sensitive plants with a row cover, that should really help them to grow a bit faster...as cold as it has been they will no doubt need any advantage possible. We would be happy to swap for coffee beans sometime, if there is anything in particular you might be interested in just shoot us an email.:) Sounds like we will have another week of this cold rainy stuff and then it is "supposed" to warm up...I hope so, fingers crossed that it does warm up as our weeds are outgrowing our seeds this spring.

Lrong - Greetings from America, thanks for stopping in for a visit all the way from Japan. I'm glad to hear that you are enjoying the blog. Nice fish!

Wendy said...

oh yum. I have fallen in love with arugula this year. I really should have planted this spring.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

since DWTS is over are you now watching "so you think you can dance?" or "america's got talent?"
;-)

we've been so busy here i can barely get a word in edgewise. hope you are well.
:-)

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I see you are still blogging. I've never heard of perennial arugula. It's a nice looking plant, too. I'll have to think about trying that.

I scrolled down and shivered at your snow. I love your hoop house and cold frame. Your whole garden is amazing!

kelli said...

thanks mr. h!=)

Leigh said...

Oh, your garden looks wonderful! So green. I've never tried growing (or eating) arugula. I wonder if it would do well down here though; I have a bad time with things bolting all too soon in the spring. I do love the tradition of trying new things.

Mr. H. said...

Wendy - It's not to late, we sow regular arugula off and on all summer long. Such an amazing addition to ones salad, sandwich, or as a pizza topping...mmm....or pesto!

Ohio - I have fulfilled all obligations to my wife and will now spend the summer as TV free as possible....although I am still hearing rumblings that there will soon be another adventure from Riddick coming soon.:)

Thanks Sue! You will definitely have to give the perennial arugula a try sometime.

Kelli - :)

Leigh - Arugula does tend to bolt to seed quickly in warm weather but the perennial variety seems to hold up better, especially if you keep the flowering stalks cut back....makes for wonderful early spring greens.

chenshaw said...

My perennial arugula survived our hard winter - temperatures down to minus 14 Celsius. It was wonderful to see it sprouting again and we are now enjoying it again in our salads. I can highly recommend it

Mr. H. said...

Chenshaw - That's great, I was wondering how cold hardy it was. Makes you wonder why it is not more popular in seed cataloges. I'm not sure how long lived a perennial it is but as readily as it self seeds I am hoping to keep it going for a long, long time.

Matron said...

It is so lovely to have fresh green salad leaves like arugula and rocket available in the lean times! Great post!

The Cottage Garden Farmer said...

This definately sounds like something I will have to try. I love the strong flavour of rocket in salad, and always grow the annual kind, but it does suffer badly from flea beetle damage here in England, making little shot holes in all the leaves which is annoying. I didn't know you could get a perennial form so I will get some from Mr Fothergill's whose stock is in all the garden centres here. I'll probably have to send off for this special though. Thanks for the tip. Kathy

Mr. H. said...

Matron - It has come in very handy this spring and we have certainly been making good use of it.

Kathy - I hope you do get a chance to try growing it, the flavor is even more intense than that of the annual varieties...a truly wonderful addition to ones salad.

Ohiofarmgirl said...

just popping by to say hi and eager to see whats going on there.
sending best wishes!
:-)

Mr. H. said...

OK Sis, I promise to post something soon...too many projects going on at the same time. You might have to settle for a few garden pictures.:)

Janeen said...

Is this fully hardy in an Idaho winter or do you give it some protection? I'm looking for more things that can handle the winter here in Minnesota and we love arugula. I may want to try this.

Mr. H. said...

Janeen - We did not have to add any protection in order to successfully over winter the Grazia arugula....it seems to be very cold hardy.

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