Rocket leaves

Fact file: rocket

Discover some interesting facts about rocket, plus tips on sowing and growing.

Fast and easy to grow, rocket has a distinctive, peppery flavour that adds a punchy kick to salads.

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Regular sowings can ensure an near year-round supply. It is best sown between March and September but even later sowings can produce a good crop of spicy, peppery leaves for salads.

Video: Monty Don’s guide to growing an early crop of rocket.

Harvest the young leaves as you need them and you will enjoy rich pickings for weeks. Sow every two weeks throughout spring and summer for a continuous supply. As autumn approaches, cover crops with sheets of horticultural fleece to keep the cold at bay, and you could be cropping right through to first frosts.

Remove flower stalks to prolong leaf production, unless you want to eat the flowers and seed pods too – both are edible.

Find out more about rocket, below.

Harvest the young leaves as you need them and you will enjoy rich pickings for weeks.

Did you know?

Rocket flowers are edible and make lovely decorations for salads and other dishes. So it’s not a disaster if plants bolt and run to seed.

Nutrition

The leaves have good levels of vitamin C and folic acid as well as calcium and potassium, and are an excellent source of vitamins A, B and K. Rocket is usually eaten raw, so no goodness is reduced by cooking.

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How to grow

Rocket is best sown directly in good, fertile soil as it dislikes root disturbance. Thin seedlings if necessary to avoid overcrowding. Spring and autumn-sown crops tend to be most successful. Provide shade in summer to avoid bolting. Keep soil moist but don’t overwater or it can ‘dilute’ the taste. Flea beetle may eat tiny holes in the leaves but covering with fleece or fine mesh keeps the pest at bay. Find out how to sow rocket. You can also sow rocket in pots.

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Harvest

Best grown as a ‘cut-and-come-again’ crop by picking a few leaves from each plant, over a long period. Harvest when large enough to use – as soon as six weeks after sowing with the quickest-growing varieties.

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How to store

Ideally eaten soon after harvest, but leaves keep in the fridge for several days in a sealed container. Older leaves can be blanched and frozen.

Our choices

Wild rocket – deeply serrated leaves, strong taste. Perennial in mild areas.

Salad rocket – quick-growing and shorter-lived

‘Dragon’s tongue’ – purplish-veined leaves, vigorous and good bolt resistance

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‘Wasabi’ – hot, spicy flavour, quick-growing and vigorous

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