Rocket is a fast-growing, hardy, upright annual from the mustard
family. It is highly sought after for its peppery flavoured leaves
which perk up a salad like nothing else can.
The plant, which is easy to grow, produces a profusion of smooth,
dark green, deeply indented leaves. Its branched, leafy main stems
are hairy and reddish and can grow up to 60 cm. Rocket bears
cream-white four-petalled flowers followed by fat crisp seed pods.
Rocket enjoys well composted, rich, moist soil, preferably
fertilised with an organic fertiliser. Although Rocket can be grown
all year round, it does not enjoy the intensely hot summer climates, therefore it is advisable to plant it in a
cool, shaded part of the garden in summer. However, it flourishes in
the cold winters, even when there is frost, and during the colder
half of the year it can be planted out in the full sun.
plant produces a flower stalk it focuses on producing seeds, and the
leaves become bitter. You can pinch off the flower stems to prolong
the production of leaves for a little longer, but it is recommend
that you plant a few new Rocket plants every two months and pull out
the older plants. You will then have a constant supply of young
delicious leaves to pick. Rocket will also grow happily in a well
prepared large pot, but it must be kept well watered.
Rocket originates from the Mediterranean area and was even a popular
salad plant in Roman times - today some people still call it Roman
Harvest and parts used:
Rocket leaves can be gathered in succession as soon as they are
large enough. The flowers can be harvested as soon as they appear,
and the seed pods while young and juicy. You can also allow the
plant to go to seed and collect the dry seed for culinary purposes.
Rocket is, as mentioned above primarily, a salad herb. Rocket leaves
have a strong, distinctive, nutty, peppery, mustard flavour. The
leaves, flowers and young seed pods can be added to mixed green
salads to add colour and flavour. The younger leaves have a milder
taste and the older leaves are more peppery. Rocket is also a
perfect addition in sandwiches. Combined with tomatoes and
mozzarella cheese/ or shavings of parmesan it makes a popular hors d’oevre. Rocket can be lightly cooked like spinach and served as a
vegetable. Rocket flowers are delicious in stir fries and soups –
added at the last minute. Strips of leaves, singed in a little olive
oil, will add a crisped texture and magnificent flavour to sauces
and marinades. Young and tender seed pods can be pounded with spices
and salt for an unusual flavouring for grilled steak or fish. Add
Rocket flowers and flower buds to cottage cheese, or use them as
garnish on vegetables. Rocket seed can be used as a substitute for
mustard, or even sprouted for salads.
Rocket is a bitter, pungent tonic herb and has a high vitamin and
mineral content, most particularly rich in potassium and silica. Its
deep green leaves introduce valuable iron and chlorophyll in the
daily diet. In ancient times the oil extracted from the seeds was
said to be an aphrodisiac! Rocket tea is a mild stimulant and a
cough remedy. If you need a completely natural cough syrup in a
hurry, try this recipe:
Mix equal quantities of Rocket flowers & leaves and a few
Tablespoons of honey and crush and pound (or liquidise) together to
a paste. Take 1 teaspoonful when necessary. Chew it well and then
swallow with half a glass of water. Repeat the dose when necessary.
Do not keep this potion for more than a day.