Botanical Name: Lactuca sativa, Eruca sativa
Days to Maturity: 20–25 days
Family: ARUGULA: Brassicaceae. LETTUCES: Asteraceae
Native: ARUGULA: Africa, Asia, Europe; exact native range obscure. LETTUCE: Unknown; lettuce has been in cultivation a long time.
Variety Information: BUTTERHEAD LETTUCE: ‘BUTTERCRUNCH’: Soft, slightly crumpled light green leaves. LEAF LETTUCES: ‘RED SALAD BOWL’: Deeply lobed red leaves. ‘RED SAILS’: Dark red, crinkled leaves with frilly edges, an All-America Selections winner. ROMAINE LETTUCE: ‘PARRIS ISLAND COS’: Medium green, slightly savoyed (crinkled) leaves. ARUGULA: Peppery, mustardy, tart, and spicy.
When to Sow Outside: 2 to 4 weeks before your average last frost date, when soil temperature is at least 50°F, ideally 60°–70°F. Successive Sowings: Every 2 weeks until 2 weeks before the first fall frost.
When to Start Inside: RECOMMENDED. Sow indoors any time of year, with indoor temperatures 60°–75°F. Successive Sowings: Every 2 weeks for a continual supply.
Days to Emerge: 5–14 days
Seed Depth: Surface to ⅛”
Seed Spacing: ¾”
Thinning: Not required.
Special Instructions: Good air circulation is important to help prevent fungal disease. If using a fan, avoid aiming the fan directly at the growing medium as it may dry the medium quickly; instead, bounce the airflow off a neighboring wall or the ceiling to create air movement in the general area.
Harvesting: When seedlings emerge, the first pair of leaves to show are the cotyledons, which can look very different from the leaves that follow, called “true” leaves. Mesclun baby greens are ready to harvest 20 to 25 days after sowing, when they have true leaves, at 2″–4″. Slow growers, or cool growing temperatures may require more time. Harvest by cutting just above the soil line. For more than one harvest (up to 3 before flavor declines) leave about 1/2″ of leafy growth on the small plants so they can regenerate.