Rocket, also known as Eruca vesicaria sativa, is a plant native to the Mediterranean region. It is a small, annual plant that typically grows to be about 20-30 cm tall. It has long, narrow leaves that are a pale green color, and small white or yellow flowers. The plant grows quickly and can be differentiated from similar plants by its unique leaf shape. Leaves can be harvested after 3-6 weeks.
Rocket prefers to grow in well-drained soil in full sun or partial shade. It likes to grow along tracks, on waste grounds or stony places. To cultivate it successfully, a grower will need to ensure that the soil is moist but not waterlogged, and will also need to protect the plant from extreme temperatures, especially frost. Rocket is not particularly winter hardy, so it may need to be grown in a greenhouse or indoors in colder climates.
Rocket is edible, and both the leaves and the seeds can be eaten. The leaves have a spicy, peppery flavor and can be used in salads or cooked dishes. The seeds ripen from July to September and can be roasted and used as a flavoring for dishes or as a garnish. After harvest, the leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days, while the seeds can be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for several months.
Rocket has several uses beyond its edible parts. It has been used medicinally as a digestive aid and to treat respiratory problems. Rocket is also valuable for wildlife, as it provides food and shelter for a variety of species. Its flowers attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies, and its seeds are a source of food for birds