Growing rocket and baby spinach
- Baby spinach and rocket are great additions to a summer salad.
- Rocket and spinach can be grown all year round, but as the weather gets warmer it’s best to position your plants, whether in a pot or in the ground, in a shady area so they won’t dry out as quickly.
- There are two types of Rocket: the perennial variety Arugula, and the annual larger-leaf variety
- Arugula will last 3-4 years in the garden. The yellow flowers that appear are edible and can be added to your salad. The annual rocket really only lasts 8-10 weeks. It has a milder flavour and its pale cream flowers are also edible.
- When Arugula rocket starts looking tired, you can cut it off at almost ground level, give it a good feed and water, and it’ll come back with lush new growth.
- The annual variety will go to seed quickly if it’s not watered sufficiently and if it’s not fed enough nutrients.
- Both annual and perennial varieties are members of the brassica family (like kale, broccoli and cabbage).
- The brassica family need a lot of feeding, so we suggest at the time of planting, and five-six weeks afterwards, giving your rocket plants a good dressing of sheep pellets, volcanic rock dust and finishing up with compost.
- It’s best not to let rocket self-seed because if you grow rocket in the same site year after year you could get a problem called club root which infects your soil and can take years to get rid of.
- There are many varieties of spinach. Take care when choosing as some do better in winter, and others prefer the warmer conditions of spring and summer. Examples of good winter varieties are Bloomsdale and Winter Giant. Reliable summer varieties are Santana, Approach and Joker.
- Baby spinach does well in summer because you use the leaves when tiny, and plants don’t get the opportunity to bolt which happens when the soil dries out in warmer temperatures. Teton is a good summer baby spinach variety available at Egmont Seed Company. Black Glove is a good winter baby spinach.
- If you have any difficulty sourcing baby spinach seeds, you can always grow regular spinach plants and cut the leaves when they’re small.
- Baby spinach needs regular watering and will grow equally as well in a pot as in a garden bed.
- Mizuna and Tatsoi are also good additions to the summer salad.
Potting up kumara plants
- Four weeks ago we prepared our kumara in beds of sand and potting mix and they’ve rewarded us with healthy shoots ready for growing on in individual pots.
- Take care not to allow the shoots to get too large as there’ll be too much root disturbance during transplanting.
- Pull the shoots off gently in a sideways direction so they detach easily from the seed kumara, bringing the new root with them.
- Plant each shoot in an individual container and they’ll be ready for planting out in the garden in around two weeks’ time.
Camera: Jarod Murray
Editor: Thomas Asche
Production equipment and post-production services provided by The Black Forest Breathes