I'm always amazed at the price of arugula and baby greens in the grocery store. They sell sometimes for ten dollars a pound! A better way to eat healthy greens is to grow them yourself, and we're getting close to the day when we can start planting two of my favorites: arugula and mache.
Plant arugula and mache in spring, a month or so before your last frost date. In warm locations like Bridgeport, you could start as early as March.
Better yet, if you have a cold frame, try sowing seeds at the end of February, since both will germinate in 40-degree Fahrenheit soils.
Plant in spring or fall in well-drained, compost-amended soil, because both greens will bolt when temperatures reach into the 70s.
Arugula is also called rucola in Italian, or roquette in French. It's a popular European green with a spicy flavor, so it's a good addition to salads.
While arugula has gotten a gourmet reputation over the last 20 years, in the old country, it's a poor man's annual green, harvested from fields.
There are special varieties, such as Sylvetta with deeply serrated leaves, the heat-tolerant Astro and Wasabi -- which, like it sounds, has even more bite than regular arugula.
Harvest individual arugula leaves when small for the mildest flavor.
Another wild green that is less known, but even more cold tolerant is mache. It's sometimes called lamb's lettuce, because it's harvested from fields in early spring when lambs are born.
While not as popular as arugula, mache is an easy-to-grow green with a mild, nutty flavor. It's great cooked with asparagus and eggs.
Next week, I’ll be talking about Valentine' flowers. Until then, I’ll be seeing you in the garden.