Sunday, October 18, 2009

Rocket Man

Eruca sativa, Rocket / Arugula
Diplotaxis tennifolia, Perennial Wild Rocket
The season for the annual Rocket is coming to an end as masses of the windmill shaped flowers are towering above everything in the vegetable patch. I don't try to grow it during the summer as the flavour is too hot and can be a bit bitter. I let the seeds dry on the bush and scatter them about. Young plants usually appear after autumn rains. The large leaves of this type are great added to cooked pasta and go well in a salad with spek bacon and goats cheese. In India and Pakistan it is grown as a commercial oilseed crop. Rocket oil or jamba oil is obtained from the seeds which contain about 30% oil.
The perennial wild Rocket is a much better plant for using as a leafy salad green, in say a mesclun mix of leaves. The leaves are smaller and are produced in great abundance. Yellow flowers on tall stems occur during the warm months and these can be just cut off if you don't want the plant coming up everywhere. It is really a very tough plant and is not particular as to soil . It just needs some regular water to keep the leaves sweet.

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