How to Grow Rocket

Rocket is one of the easiest salad crops to grow and you get quick results.
It is a pick and come again crop, so you can just pick what you need on a daily basis. It is an ideal container crop so you can grow it on patios and balconies if you don't have garden space. It is so much better than the supermarket bags of rocket, which are expensive and often short lived.
Rocket likes a sunny site, but not too much sun or just like lettuce, it will bolt and go to seed. For this reason I think it is best grown in partial shade. The flowers, illustrated above right should be removed if you want to keep the plant growing and to stop it setting seed too early in the season.
The flowers are edible and can make an attractive addition to a salad. Ensuring the crop is well watered may help to stop it bolting in warm spells.
Rocket can be ready to harvest within 4-6 weeks of sowing, and can be grown as a cut and come again crop. The growing time for Rocket, as with lettuce, can be extended at the end of the growing season by covering the crop with a cloche.
Rocket can be troubled by flea beetle, but it not too much bother. It will make small holes in the leaves but they remain perfectly edible.

How to Grow from Seed

As shown in the images, Rocket is made up of lots of small individual plants which means it is best grown from seed. The good news is that it is easy to grow from seed, and you can save seeds for use next year.
The seed is fine and needs to be sown in either shallow drills or blocks. The ground should be prepared so that it is well raked with fine earth. Sow seeds into prepared soil evenly,butnot too sparsely so you have a reasonable density of plants to harvest from. Sow rocket quite shallow around .5 cms (1/4") into prepared ground. Rocket can be sown from March to September. To reduce gluts, a good rule of thumb is to sow each fortnight. If your garden is in an exposed area, or the spring weather is poor, delay early sowings until April.

Green wheelbarrow means easy to grow

Rocket is very easy to grow and tagged a green wheelbarrow plant

Best types of Rocket to Grow

In the supermarket, all Rocket tends to very similar fairly uniform. However there are different types of Rocket, which have slightly differently shaped leaves, and degree of pepperiness in the flavour. Which to grow is a question of personal taste, all are fast growing and have the same growing requirements.  Both cultivated and wild/herb Rocket,  illustrated below, are easy to grow and both have the lovely peppery taste which Rocket is famed for. I find the cultivated rocket has more leaves and less stems and makes for a better salad but there is room for both in the veg garden.

Cultivated rocket

Cultivated rocket

Growing  Herb rocket

Herb or Wild Rocket

How to Save Rocket Seed

To save Rocket seed you must first let it flower. The flowers on rocket are usually white and are illustrated in the image just above of wild rocket , where it has small white flowers. Let the rocket flower, once the flowers die back the seeds will form. Pick the stems of rocket, with the seed heads attached and then set to dry so they become similar to the image below left. 

How to save rocket seed

Shown in this image is Rocket which has been left to dry with the seed heads intact so that the seed can be harvested for next year. If you look closely at the image, there are small elongated seed pods which in fact contain lots of seeds, which are small and black.
To save the seed, scrape them out of the pods when completely dry and save into small packets. It is preferable to use paper rather than plastic, which has a tendency to create moisture can cause the seed to rot.
Label and place the seeds in a cool dark place, fridge or garage are ideal and the seed will be ideal for sowing next year.

Last updated 13.01.2024