Eruca vesicaria subsp. sativa
Eruca vesicaria is an edible annual plant, commonly known as salad rocket, rucola, rucoli, rugula, colewort, roquette, and arugula. It has elongated oak-shaped leaves that have a strong peppery or mustard-like flavor. It is used as a salad green, pizza topping, sauteed as a side dish, or in pesto.
Grown as an edible herb in the Mediterranean area since Roman times, it was mentioned by various classical authors as an aphrodisiac, most famously in a poem long ascribed to Virgil, Moretum, which contains the line: "et veneris revocans eruca morantuem" ("the rocket excites the sexual desire of drowsy people"). Some writers assert that for this reason during the Middle Ages it was forbidden to grow rocket in monasteries. It was listed, however, in a decree by Charlemagne of 802 as one of the pot herbs suitable for growing in gardens. Gillian Reilly, author of the Oxford Companion to Italian Food, states that because of its reputation as a sexual stimulant, it was "prudently mixed with lettuce, which was the opposite" (i.e., calming or even soporific). Reilly continues that "nowadays rocket is enjoyed innocently in mixed salads, to which it adds a pleasing pungency".
Rocket was traditionally collected in the wild or grown in home gardens along with such herbs as parsley and basil. It is now grown commercially from the Veneto to Iowa to Brazil, and is available for purchase in supermarkets and farmers' markets throughout the world.
When all danger of frost has passed, direct sow arugula in full sun or partial shade, 1/4" deep and 3-6" apart in rows 10" apart. For a continuous harvest, plant a new crop every 2-3 weeks until the heat of summer; arugula tastes best when grown as a spring or fall crop, since excess heat causes bitterness in the leaves. For a fall crop, plant the seeds in late summer. Arugula also grows well as a container plant, or throughout the winter in a greenhouse or cold frame. Arugula can tolerate light frost, but if heavy frost comes, provide protection for the plant. Keep the soil moist, and apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture and discourage weeds. Watch out for aphids and other insect pests. Biennial. 35 days. Zone 4-9.16,400 seeds per oz. 18-24" height. 6-9" spacing.