Quite a few of you asked questions on how this is going to work, which is where today's kick-off post comes in...
The main idea is that we all grow and/or forage some salad leaves to eat every week this year. What and how much is entirely up to you. We're in completely different locations, have different tastes, levels of skill and resources available so devising something more specific to suit everyone would be very hard and might not be what you'd really like to do.
Over the year I'll be posting every Friday with ideas of what to grow, techniques to use and anything else I can think of that's salad related. I've already got oodles of ideas, but if there's something you'd particularly like me to post about, then let me know.
The fourth Friday of each month is designated as Salad Days. January's will be on the 27th and I'll list the rest of the dates then. I'll be posting on how my own personal challenge is progressing and you're invited to join in to tell us how you're getting along. I'll put up a Mr Linky for you to add your blog's URL so we can all come a-visiting. If you don't want to write your own post, you're most welcome to leave a Comment instead.
I've been thrilled at the response to my announcement post last month and also over on twitter. It's highlighted something I'd like to work really well this year: the opportunity for us to share hints and tips; pool our knowledge and to generally help each other out. I've learned loads already and I'm sure you and this challenge will help me to crack successional sowing at last!
It sounds like you've all been chatting away about this already! How do I join in?
Lots of people left comments in last month's post, so that's a good place to catch up. My Friday posts will also form a weekly meeting point going forward and I'll use Mr Linky on Salad Days to hoover up anything else I can find from your blogs. You're also welcome to use the picture at the top of this post to show you're joining in. It'll make it much easier for me to look out for you if you do - please copy and save the image rather than linking to it as the latter can slow down blog load times. I can email it to you if you'd prefer.
We've also been chatting away on twitter and I've favourited quite a few tweets I've seen so far with ideas and useful information which I'm aiming to link to or mention in future posts. If you're on twitter and would like to join in there, it would be great if you could use the #saladchat hashtag, so that we can easily find your tweets and join in. Who knows? We could even have a specific #saladchat time on there if you want one!
OK, I'm raring to go - what can I do right NOW?
There's loads you can do and it makes such a nice change from just poring over seed catalogues and dreaming about how wonderful the garden or plot will be this year :)
Like @GillyinAriege, you can start sprouting seeds which will be ready in as little as 2 days if you use the jar or tray method. This will be a staple crop over the next few weeks for those of you like me who are starting now. The above link will help you get started and I'm also putting a Fact Sheet together. Gilly is trying mung beans and alfalfa and I'm trying a newbie (for me) from the store cupboard: puy lentils.
For the longer term, you can also start indoor sowings of e.g. peas (for trendy pea shoots), rocket (nice and peppery leaves) and mizuna (a good lettuce substitute) in trays of growing media on brightly lit window sills. Mark at Vertical Veg heartily recommends growing broad bean shoots as well as peas.
You can also try growing super trendy microgreens on your windowsill like You Grow Girl shows in her very clear post. Try basil, broccoli, celery leaf (aka parcel), mustard, radish or rocket for starters.
NB Both indoor sowings and microgreens are a good way of using up some of those half finished packets of seed you may have from growing them last year.
There's also the possibility of foraging for edible weeds or flowers. I'll be trying hairy bittercress and Viola flowers (thanks for the idea Jane!) in my salad this week as I have both growing just a few yards away on my patio. If any of you have suggestions for other foraged goods to try now, do add them to the Comments below. I'll be looking at foraging in more detail in a later post.
Er, if I start my seed sprouts today, I won't have anything to show for Week One!
Don't worry, the key thing is to get started this week using any or all of the techniques outlined above which appeal to you. If you can't find anything to forage, then you can grow something to eat in as little as 2 days.
Has anyone jumped the gun and got started already?
Oh yes and they're a great source of inspiration and ideas!
Gwenfar got cracking and sowed lettuce Bronze Arrow, my fave HSL [Heritage Seed Library - Ed] variety, plus 2 Franchi green & red cut/come again lettuce, in unheated propagator & inside on sill a few days ago (via twitter, hence the quote rather than link); Mags has given me polytunnel envy with her first harvest of the year and Jono is picking a great array of some unusual varieties for us to try sowing later.
Note: if any of you are thinking about using up some of your old seed for this challenge (now or later on in the year), Gwenfar has written a very useful post about seed viability with a couple of downloadable references she's put together showing how long various vegetable and herb seeds remain viable for.
I've also found a couple of great salad related posts from Jekka McVicar (more ideas for what you can do now) and Noel Kingsbury (mainly inspirational and observational) this week. Jekka has persuaded me it's not too early to have a go with sowing some Nasturtiums :)
I'm using another technique/growing something you've not mentioned/add something clever of your own choice
That's great! Do tell us about what you're doing in the Comments below, or write a post on your blog, ready for inclusion in the Mr Linky for this month's Salad Days. We want to learn from your expertise :)
Remember, you might have been ultra good and started your winter crops last October (like Mags and Jono for instance) so you need to make it clear whether this is something we can do now, or if you're providing inspiration for what can be done later this year.
Um, what's Mr Linky, I haven't come across him before?
It's the clever widget used at the bottom [usually - Ed] of a host post for people to add their blog post URLs to when we're all posting about a common theme (aka meme). It makes it much easier to visit lots of other blogs in a quicker fashion. I use it for Out on the Streets (public planting examples) or collecting together everyone's posts about the Malvern shows over at Meet at Malvern. Carol for instance uses it for Garden Bloggers Blooms Day, so you may have come across it there.
I won't be able to post on the 27th but I can a couple of days later...
No problem, by using Mr Linky, it means you can add your post's URL when you're ready to and we'll be able to find it easily.
I've got started and already posted something!
Even better :) It's been great to see your posts and tweets about what you're up to - as you can see I've linked to the posts I've found already to provide some inspiration for us all. Why not tell us about your 52 Week Salad Challenge post in the Comments below? I'll make sure your post's URL is added to Mr Linky on the 27th. And don't forget to use the #saladchat hashtag for your salad related tweets :)
*whispers* I'm a complete beginner and I'm not sure what to do...
Don't worry - the idea is for us to learn from each other and provide encouragement. I'm no expert, so one of my personal challenges for this year is to try new techniques and new varieties. I particularly want to find some new flavours so my salads are less boring. I'll be outlining my personal challenge on the 27th and the idea is for you to find what suits you within the 52 Week Salad framework. Why not start by simply sprouting some seeds this week?
I'm in a completely different part of the UK/World to you
Fantastic. Gwenfar and I are really interested in finding out how things differ in your part of the world in terms of sowing times and the different varieties you grow and the techniques you've tried. This is one of blogging's strength over books as we can pool our knowledge and experience of different soils and climates (as well as varieties). I'll be writing about this in a later post.
*grins and polishes halo* I already grow salads every week of the year
That's brilliant. I'm really interested (so are Sally and Easygardener at least) in learning how you've cracked it. I'm sure you can find your own challenge within the 52 Week Salad framework which suits you. For instance, do you provide salad for every meal you want it for? Are there new techniques or varieties you'd like to try? Or how about adding an extra leaf to your usual mix?
I'd love to join in the challenge but I don't have a blog :(
No problem. I don't want a lack of a blog to be a barrier to you joining in. You're always welcome to join in via the Comments on my weekly 52 Week Salad Challenge posts and you can read about what we're all doing via Mr Linky in the monthly Salad Days :)
Wish I'd known about this earlier, it's too late to start now :(
It's never too late! Why not start your 52 weeks right now? You're in a better position to avoid all the mistakes we've made so far and all the posts you've missed are being collected into the 52 Week Salad Challenge page ready for you to use them when needed.
NB I've put a new Page in the sidebar on the right which will include a summary of all the salad challenge posts and a month-by-month guide of what you can do. You can help me put this together for January by leaving a Comment about any salad leaf varieties you've found work well at this time of the year.
Right, I think that's it for now. If you have a question not answered by the above, do add it to the Comments below.
Next Week: I'll be looking at seed sprouting in more detail, which will include some fab info from @GillyinAriege :)