I finally got to harvest my windowsill arugula. It had been thriving in some self-watering soda bottle SIPS (see how I made them here) for the past six weeks, but I wanted to pick it while it was still young. I’d used a few cuttings here and there, but today I wanted to make a salad with arugula as the base.
When I planted them I aimed for two seeds per pot, in a dozen small jiffy peat pots. The seeds are tiny and stuck to my fingers, and sometimes a few more fell in. One to four sprouts emerged from each little pot. Five weeks ago they looked like this.
When the sprouts started out growing the egg carton tray, I divided the tray in four 2-liter soda bottle SIP planters. I noticed the sprouts that were growing only one or two to a pot were larger than the ones crowded three or four to a pot at this stage.
After a few more weeks in the soda bottle planters, the arugula with more space to grow had gotten visibly bigger than the ones that were crowded. So, it seems 4-5 arugula plants per 2-liter bottle was a good growing space for them.
These 4 containers of arugula, when harvested, made 1 ounce, or enough for a medium size salad for one.
This means if I wanted to eat a salad like this three times a week, I’d need roughly 18 square feet; if I wanted a salad a day I’d need about the area of my bedroom (8×10) in which to grow only salad greens. While too much for an apartment dweller to fit on a windowsill, if one had access to a backyard or rooftop — on the other hand, what if you prepared meals for other people who ate salad too?
Okay, so it’s a little unfeasible to make this a routine, but it was a really fun way to make a special salad, and I got to enjoy bright green leaves in my window during the winter. It’s certainly a great way to grow enough arugula to mix in with store-bought greens, and next time I will plant smaller amounts of, say five seeds at intervals, so I can have a small amount on hand.
Dressing adapted from Bon Appetit, March 2006; Idea for including Parmesan and fennel from Chow.com message boards.
Rinse arugula. Cut a portion of fennel bulb very thinly (I only used about 1/4 of a bulb). When sliced extra thin, the licoricy flavor of the fennel really shines.
Mix olive oil and lemon juice in a ratio of about two to one, to taste, guessing is okay. Grate in a little lemon rind and add salt and pepper. Drizzle over arugula and fennel.
Shave Parmesan on top, and dig in.