Oriental Salad – Wild Rocket
Oriental Salad – Wild Rocket -the plants are vigorous, uniform and dark green. Oriental brassicas are excellent from late summer onwards right through the winter if grown under protection. In spring they are very prone to fleabeetle attacks and are best avoided unless grown under a fleece.
Sow small amounts every 3 weeks from late June until late September. Seeds can be sown directly into the ground or into modular trays (5 seeds per cell) and planted out 4 weeks after sowing.
Between rows: 25cm
Between plants in the row: 25cm (5 seedlings per station)
Approx. seed count: 350
Latin name: Eruca vesicaria and Eruca selvatica
Both the wild and salad rocket are very fashionable amongst chefs and gardeners alike. If grown at the right time they are such easy and delicious salad vegetables.
Types of rocket:
Salad rocket or rucola (E. vesicaria)
This is the more common type of rocket which can grow fairly tall (1m) if you let it go to flower. Both the leaves and flowers are edible.
Wild rocket (E. selvatica)
This is a wild relative of the salad rocket. It’s a much smaller plants with more narrow leaves. Even if this plant bolts, you can simply cut it back to about 5cm above ground and it will re- grow again.
Soil and site:
Rocket does well in any reasonably fertile soil.
The best time to sow rocket is in early September until early October. I usually sow 5-7 seeds in modules. The modular transplants are ready for planting out about 4 weeks after sowing.
You can make more successional sowing from late January until April but they never perform as well as the autumn sown crops. They are likely to bolt prematurely and also get attacked by the fleabeetle.
Between rows: 25cm
Between plants: 20cm (5 plants per station)
It is essential to keep the plot completely weed free and watered regularly.
You can either harvest individual leaves as required or use the cut and come again method: cut the whole plant at about 5cm height from the soil level and the leaves will re-grow. This procedure can be repeated within the next two to three weeks.
Rocket is very prone to fleabeetle attacks. The symptoms are hundreds of minute holes in the leaves that are caused by a tiny shiny black beetle. The autumn and late winter sowings will escape the fleabeetle. If you are determined to grow rocket in spring and summer you will have to cover the beds as soon as they are planted with a fine netting such as fleece or a fine Enviromesh.
How much to grow?
Rocket is a very prolific salad, so 3 to 4 plants (multi-seeded modules) should be sufficient especially if you also grow other winter salads.
Salad Rocket (large lobed leaves with excellent flavour)
Salad Rocket Victoria (an improved rocket variety with a rounded leaf blade and attractive dark green colour)
Salad Rocket Dentallata (an excellent variety of salad rocket with serrated leaves resembling wild rocket)
Wild Rocket (small serrated leaves with intense flavour)
Wild Rocket Napoli (an improved wild rocket with a more upright growth habit and a darker colour)