I had a lot of issues with my lettuces this summer – they kept bolting in the hot weather. Thank goodness for my Wild Rocket though, which gave us lovely salad leaves throughout the warmer months.
Wild Rocket differs it’s wider leafed cousin Salad Rocket in a number of ways. Although both are brassicas wild rocket is perennial and happy in my micro climate throughout the year. It flowers and self seeds happily, while producing leaves without any trace of bitterness.
It is a bushy spreading plant. I planted out 3 small seedlings in Spring and they now occupy a full square metre in the bed and would have spread further but for some judicious pruning and a whole lot of harvesting.
Wild Rocket can be sown, either direct or into seed trays throughout the year in Melbourne. Seedlings can be planted out at any time. It grows relatively slowly initially but when it gets going it is plentiful and comparatively trouble free.
I know some people who have had issues with cabbage whites attacking their rocket plants but so far mine have been relatively immune. Otherwise I am unaware of any major pest issues.
I use rocket regularly in salads, on pizza as a fresh topping, and occasionally in pesto. Flavour-wise it has the pepperiness of salad rocket with a more delicate leaf structure. To me it is at its best with onion, pear, Parmesan and a nice vinaigrette.
Do you grow rocket? If so is it a wild or salad variety? Or both?
Saturday Spotlight is a series of posts highlighting particular varieties of edible plants. If you have a favourite, or even a less than successful variety of a plant and would like to include it in the series then please leave a comment with a link below. I have created a page (above, just below the header) with an Index of all the Spotlights to date. I will add links to any new posts below and in next weeks post as well as ensuring they appear in the Index.
New Spotlights last week were:
Flamingo Chard – From Seed to Table
And from this week:
Pennsylvania Dutch Crooknecked Squash – Our Happy Acres
Great timing on this one! I am trying the wild arugula this year. It will be interesting to see how it likes our hot and humid summers. Regular rocket goes to flower pretty quickly then, so I either have to keep sowing it or do without. I love it so much, especially on pizza, that it is hard to do without! So I am hoping the wild version performs better.
My feeling is that it should do better. Salad rocket struggles here over summer too, behaving much the same way yours seems to.
Sounds to be a very worthwhile crop.
I haven’t sown any wild arugula in a few years, but there’s plenty of it around the garden. As you say, it does like to volunteer! One variety that I really like is Olive Leaf arugula, it’s a wild type that has smooth edged leaves. It’s very good but it reverted to the typical fern like leaf when I saved the seeds – or perhaps it crossed with some of the other wild arugulas in my garden. Some of the volunteers that I find have the smooth leaves. They grow just about anywhere, one of the finest specimens (an olive leaf) is growing in my gravel patio! The only pests that occasionally bother it here are aphids. No spotlight post from me this week.
I’ll have to look out for the aphids – I haven’t noticed them near mine. Interesting how the leaf varies from variety to variety.
My wild rocket while in flower is so bitter, lucky it is spreading around (same as the watercress) for the winter crop at the moment. It tends to attract to cabbage flies and wilting in the warmer month
That’s interesting mine does seem to go bitter when it flowers at all – perhaps different varieties behave differently or perhaps my palate is too jaded to notice.
I’m looking forward to this year’s first harvest of rocket – the spring leaves are always the best. I grow both wild and salad rocket, but as (if!) the weather warms up the salad rocket attracts flea beetle. I like your idea of using rocket with pear and parmesan… will have to give that a try!
I hope you enjoy it.
Yum! We’re not real salad/lettuce eaters but I think rocket could be a winner! Do you think we could plant it in a pot?
Definitely and I reckon it would do pretty well. You would probably want to use a pot with at least 20cm diameter though.
I love this rocket as well. And while it like to spread itself around the place I think it is much better behaved than the broader leafed rocket. I was worried that I had lost the rocket but it turned up in a pot that has been waiting to be planted (saves me planting). The pears are getting good so I will have to try it together
Pears are good at the moment aren’t they. I tend to be a bit picky about my pears too.
I love my wild rocket. It has provided us with some form of salad right through the summer when the rest of the salad greens had given up the ghost. I keep finding new plants popping up everywhere and I like the delicate leaves much more than the annual rocket.
Absolutely agree Tania – my experience has been exactly the same.
Should I cit the flowers off my newly planted rocket (wasabi) to promote more green leave so?
I would yes. If its wild rocket it will keep putting out leaves. If its the other kind it may or it may not, sometimes that just bolts to seed when it starts to flower.
Wild Rocket is not “arugula” !
“Arugula” is related, but it has more rounded leaves, and a less strong
and less peppery taste, and it is an annual. Arugula’s correct botanical
name is, Eruca vesicaria, commonly known as Salad or Garden rocket.
The correct botanical name for wild rocket is Diplotaxis tenuifolia.
Diplotaxis, because the seeds are in two rows in the pod,
and tenufolia, because the leaves are denticulated, like teeth.
Wild Rocket is a perennial herbaceous plant which prefers
stony ground, and loose, crumbling stonework, seashores,
waste ground and so on. This gives it it’s other common name
of “Wall Rocket”. They contain similar chemicals, but the stronger
tasted wall rocket may give a clue that it contains more.
The variety illustrated in this article is Diplotaxis tenuifolia.
Parts of the walls of the Vatican are festooned with the perennial plant,
where it is called Diplotaxis muralis, and a white flowered denticular
taxon called Diplotaxis erucoides.
All taxons grow in the wild.