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  • How to grow rocket

    Thanks to John Harrison of Allotment & Gardens

    Rocket is a hardy salad leaf, producing a good crop of peppery leaves. It is quick and easy to grow in pots or in the soil, and in a frame or greenhouse for clean winter salad.

    Sowing and Growing Rocket

    • Rocket will grow in any reasonable, well drained soil in a sun or semi-shade.
    • Early sowings can be made under glass as early as February to provide an early salad crop.
    • Sow thinly under glass or outdoors from April through to September.
    • Once the seedlings are large enough, thin to around 10cm (4 inches) apart and keep well-watered, particularly in hot, dry weather.
    • To prevent the plants running to seed, pinch out any flower buds and keep the plants moist. Provide some shade during particularly sunny, hot weather.
    • However, rocket will happily self-seed so you may want to leave some plants to flower and set-seed.
    • With some protection (in a cool greenhouse or under a cloche or garden fleece), a late sowing will provide you with leaves over winter.

    Harvesting Rocket

    • Harvest as a cut-and-come-again crop, by nipping off what you require as soon as the leaves are large enough and leaving the plants to grow on and produce pickings for weeks.
    • The leaves are delicious raw in a salad and can be wilted on top of a cooked dish as a garnish or vegetable, or stirred through pasta.
    • The young, fresh, leaves have a milder flavour.
    • You could try our delicious Rocket and Courgette Soup.
    • If some of your rocket plants do run to seed, the flowers can be used as an edible garnish (and bees love them).

    Pests and Problems

    • Be sure to thin the seedlings. If left to grow too close together they tend to run to seed.
    • Keep well watered, particularly in hot, dry weather, or the plants will taste very bitter and bolt.
    • Flea beetles tend to cause the most damage to plants, nibbling holes in the leaves, making them look unsightly. Try growing under fleece to prevent this.

    Varieties of Rocket

    • Wild rocket has deeply divided leaves and a much stronger flavour than the normal salad rocket
    • The seeds are often included in cut-and-come-again seed mixes
    • Skyrocket – Combines the speed of Salad Rocket and the flavour of Wild Rocket. An upright habit, so keeps the attractive serrated leaves clean and disease free. Pungency increases as the plants develop.
    • Pegasus Seeds – A new rocket variety with superb vigour and a wonderful peppery taste. Bred in Britain, its bolt-resistance makes it perfect for growing and cutting during our long summer days as it will not easily run to seed even in hot, dry conditions. Pick the outer leaves regularly, as a cut-and-come-again crop

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