Grow Your Own

Rocket

Rocket is an easy-to-grow crop which adds a lovely peppery flavour to salads. The younger leaves are milder, more tender and palatable. Older leaves can also be lightly cooked as a delicious spinach substitute, added to sauces, stir fried or sautéed in olive oil. It's rich in potassium and vitamin C and flourishes in a warm, sunny, position. Even the flowers are edible.

Salad leaves in growing bags

Sow

For a constant supply sow in a sunny site, every 2-3 weeks, from April to early September in rich, fertile, well-drained soil.

Sow thinly, 0.5-1cm (¼- ½in) deep in rows 15cm (6in) apart.

Thin to 15cm (6in) apart, when the seedlings are large enough to handle, use the thinnings in salad.

Allowing some plant to set seed, rather than sowing, is an easy option.

Sow autumn and winter crops in August and September, in a cool greenhouse or under cloches or fleece.

Grow

Keep the soil moist and the plants growing well to prevent premature running to seed (bolting).

Plants need some shade in hot weather to prevent the leaves from becoming tough and unpalatable.

Keep crops weed free and the soil moist. Do not overwater as this dilutes the taste.

Common problems

Flea beetle

Flea beetle: Leaves are covered in small holes and damaged areas turn brown. Seedlings are particularly susceptible.

Remedy: Grow plants under horticultural fleece and keep the soil moist. Water in nitrogen-rich fertilser to help the crop outgrow the pest.

More info on Flea beetle

Bolting

Bolting: Plants flower and set seed prematurely.

Remedy: Unless growing for seed sow bolt-resistant varieties. Sow or plant at the correct time and keep the soil or compost moist.

More info on Bolting

Harvesting

Harvest from four weeks after sowing. Regular picking keeps growth young, tender and tasty.

Treat plants as a ‘cut-and-come-again’ crop or pick a few leaves from plants over the whole row. Picking lots of leaves from one or two plants, weakens the growth.

As flower buds appear, pinch them out to prolong cropping, unless you want the plants to set seed – they can be used as a garnish for salads, too.

Recipes

An unusual combination that makes a delicious dish: roasted squash, sheep’s cheese and hazelnut salad.

Varieties

‘Sky Rocket’:Combines the flavour of wild rocket with salad rocket's speed of growth

‘Runway’:Fast growing

‘Apollo’:A tasty, fast growing form


Buy rocket

Do now

  • Sow in greenhouse or under cloches
  • Harvest

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