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Expert: Argula plant of choice for beginners

AMHERST – Some people have green thumbs. Others kill every plant they encounter. And it’s for the latter, the anti-gardener, Sylvia Fairbanks’s suggestion applies.

It’s called argula, and it’s her pick for the one plant a person who’s never grown anything can succeed in raising to leafy, green adulthood.

“It’s a no fail…you can’t fail with it,” said Fairbanks, who co-chairs the Cumberland County Museum and Archive’s garden committee with Elaine Bourque.

The self-professed garden experimenter said argula is part of the mustard family. You don’t make a whole salad out of it, but you add it to other leafy greens, or put it in a sandwich.

“It’s lovely, it’s delicious,” she said.

Fairbanks said the “tiny, tiny” seeds can be purchased at a co-op or other seed supplier, although a grower may have to look around before finding a shop that stocks them. She said growing them indoors is a good option for beginners because slugs can’t access the plants and they can be moved from hot sunlight.

The gardener said to sprinkle seeds on the top of the soil in a small pot – “keep two pots going” for a constant supply of the green – and then sprinkle a bit of soil on top. Give them water once a day or when they wilt. Keep them in a window sill but move them during the heat of the day if the sun will be scorching right through the window. Or you could try growing them in a window that doesn’t get direct sunlight.

That’s it. According to Fairbanks, as it grows, you can tear off leaves to eat and more will grow in their place. Eventually the plant runs its course, but if you add a few seeds every couple of weeks to the pot with a grown argula plant, new ones will be coming up on an ongoing basis.

For those who’ve graduated to an outdoor plot, argula can be grown outdoors as well, of course.

Fairbanks said it’s a plant you can water and forget about.

“It’s like a bad weed.”

A bad weed that she said can make a salad vibrate with flavor.

esparling@amherstdaily.com

@ADNsparling

Organizations: Cumberland County Museum

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  • justagirl
    June 21, 2013 - 13:47

    mom jeans- get a life and don't be so trivial. Wish I had time to go looking for spelling errors in the newspaper.

    • Mom Jeans
      June 24, 2013 - 18:02

      I do have a life, thanks, one that includes use of proper spelling and grammar, something the ADN lacks-often. It's no wonder the ADN is going the way of the dinosaur.

  • Eric Sparling
    June 19, 2013 - 12:15

    Thank you for pointing out what may be an error, Mom Jeans (if that's your real name). I did check the spelling with our expert when the interview was conducted, although I well may have misheard. I also checked the spelling online before submitting the story - while most sources made reference to "arugula", a few had "argula". It was unclear to me if this was an alternate spelling or a different plant. Not being a gardening expert, I ultimately opted to go with what a credible source told me (or what I thought I heard, at least). Perhaps another reader can bring clarity to the issue?

  • Mom Jeans
    June 19, 2013 - 11:28

    If you're going to write about something it helps to know how to spell it: A-R-U-G-U-L-A.