If you are looking to grow a nice hardy salad vegetable in the garden with children, rocket should certainly be a consideration. It is easy to grow and best of all, children can harvest it themselves with very little that can go wrong.
During the spring and summer months, we love rocket in our salads. It has that delicious peppery taste and if you think it is delicious from the supermarket, wait until you have grown it at home. You won’t be disappointed.
Sow between: April & September
What you will need: Seeds, compost & seed trays / pots
Where does it grow: In the ground or containers – best suited to containers
Likes: A sunny position but won’t appreciate full sun during hot dry spells
Difficulty of growing: Easy
When can I grow rocket?
The ideal time to grow rocket, is sowing any time from April to September. If you are planning on eating a lot of rocket over the summer months, you will be pleased to know that it is a cut and come again plant. This means that you should get a good amount of produce from just one plant.
Should I grow rocket from seed or buy it as a plant?
With rocket, you can do either. Personally, we prefer to grow it from seed as it really is quite straight forward. You can either grow it in seed trays and then plant on, or grow it straight into a veg trug or container pot. If you are looking to grow it in a container, we would recommend these felt pots from amazon, as they are high versatile and easy to move around the garden. Rocket seeds are available from most garden centres or online from a grower such as Thompson & Morgan.
How to grow Rocket from seed
Rocket really is so easy to grow from seed. Whether you are growing it in a pot, a seed tray or in the garden, you will want to put the seeds around 1.5 to 2 cm into the ground. Once you have done this, simply cover it over and water well. Rocket doesn’t take that long to germinate so you will see the results quite quickly. In an ideal world, you would be looking at sowing around 3cm between each seed and then thinning out later on. If you are able to sow in a row, it will help you take out the weeds and therefore give the plants the best chance that they have of growing. You can see a rocket seedling above so you know what you are looking for.
What environment should I grow rocket in?
You will want to ensure that your plants are kept well watered, especially in the hot dry weather in summer months. Not keeping them sufficiently watered will affect the flavour of the plant and will also affect the texture of the leaves. Rocket will thrive in full sun or a partially shaded area. If you begin to experience a heat wave in the summer, it is best to give them some rest from the full sun by placing them in some shade, ensuring that they are well watered.
Growing rocket and what to be aware of
Running into seed (bolting)
Rocket can have a tendency in running to seed. This can be a cause of a few factors. One of them is hot weather, so put the plants in the shade (another benefit of growing in pots) and the other, not enough water. Do be careful not to over water the plant as it will take flavour away from the leaves. However, it is important that it does not go dry. Also, if the plant begins to flower, simply pinch out the flower buds.
How far apart should I plant them?
You will want to give the plant enough room to grow. If you are planting a lot of seeds in one place, then you will want to thin them out so that there is around 10cm between each plant. This should be enough for the plant to grow. You can then harvest the leaves and there will be plenty of space for the plant to regrow.
Growing Rocket over winter
If you are looking to have rocket all throughout the year, then all you will need to do is grow it in the windowsill. Whilst you won’t get as good crop as growing it outside, ensuring it is placed in a sunny position, will ensure that it can catch the most of the winter sun. By being indoors, it is protected from the winter elements.
How can children get involved in growing rocket?
Children can be involved at almost every step of growing rocket. As the seeds are easy to sow (supervision will be required with young children) rocket perfect for younger gardeners to help out. After all, if you end up with too many plants next to each other, they can be removed when you thin them out to approximately 10cm apart.
Children can also get involved in the harvesting process as it is essentially cutting leaves from the plant. Showing them which leaves are the correct size to harvest will set them in good stead for harvesting on their own as their confidence develops.