Rocket

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Rocket's peppery taste is not to everyone's taste, but many enjoy the flavour of this leafy vegetable when it is added to a mixed salad and the younger leaves have a less pungent and milder taste that blends well with lettuce and other leaves. It is rich in vitamin C and potassium and so is a healthy addition to your diet.

Growing rocket:

Rocket is quick and relatively easy to grow from seed. If you sow seeds every two or three weeks between April and September you can have a continuous crop between June and December, though later sowings will have to be in a cool greenhouse or polytunnel or under fleece or cloches.

Rocket will do better if it has some shade in the height of summer or the leaves can become tough and the flavour can become unpalatable. Though a sunny site is best and the shade can be provided by means of some careful companion planting.

The soil for sowing rocket should be fertile and well-drained. It will grow well and provide a prolific crop if grown in these conditions. If you leave some rocket to set seed this is an easier way of getting a long-season supply over several years.

As soon as the seedlings are large enough to handle you should thin plants to around 23-30cm apart – the seedlings can be eaten as micro-leaves so there will be no waste. Weed well around the seedlings to make sure that there is no competition. The other thing is to make sure that you keep the soil moist throughout the growing season as if the soil dries out the plants can be prone to bolting and can become unpleasant in flavour. Do not overwater either, however, as this will dillute the flavour of the leaves.

Rocket will be ready to harvest from four weeks after sowing the seed. You should make sure to pick leaves regularly as this will keep the plants young, tender and tasty. Take just a few leaves at a time from each cut-and-come-again plant and you will ensure that they continue to be productive.

Unless you want to save the seed or allow the plants to self-seed then you should pinch out flower heads when they form to prolong the leafy period and make sure that you have a harvest-able crop for longer.

Why grow rocket in the garden?

Rocket is a reliable crop that can be easy to grow and can enhance salads over much of the year. It can also be used to make a pesto or as a lightly-cooked and seasoned side dish. There are a wide variety of recipes in which rocket can be used.

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Quick Facts

Latin Name
Eruca sativa