"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?
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