Seen at The Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 9 March 2012

Salads for March

March is the exciting month when at last lots of possibilities present themselves in terms of seed sowing and summer harvests start their transformation from dreams into reality.

It's also time to experiment a little, so I was pleased to find the pictured lettuce seed mats in a local shop this week. I'll write about these more fully in a later post.

Here in the south west of England I've sown lots of other leaves this week. If you live further north you may have to wait until later th
is month - see my What's the Weather for Salad? post on how you can work out the best dates for salad growing where you are. Do also bear in mind how fickle a month March can be and the rate in which your particular soil takes to heat up and adjust your sowings (or protection) as necessary.

So far I've sown (mostly indoors and in modules, so the windowsills are getting a bit crowded!):
  • Lettuce 'Little Gem' - fast growing and produces sweet, smallish leaves. One of my favourites
  • Mangetout pea 'Shiraz' - a new, purple podded variety, which I'm chitting. I hope the reality is as good as it looks on the packet
  • Lots more shop bought peas for pea shoots - to tide us over until I can plunder the mangetout
  • Carrot 'Artemis' - having nibbled a test leaf in the supermarket, I'll be using the tops for salads this year (sown outdoors)
  • Flat leaved parsley - I prefer this to the curly leaved type (sow indoors only)
  • Chervil - a new herb for me, which is meant to be practically indestructible and a good leaf for salads
  • Buckler Leaf Sorrel - I love the contrasting bitter, lemony taste as well as the unusual shape of the leaves
  • Rocket - I prefer the greater pepperiness of wild rocket
  • Beetroot 'Bull's Blood' - I grow this for leaves rather than beets
  • Spinach 'Apollo' - I grow this for baby leaves only
You could sow most of these outdoors if your soil conditions allow, though fleece may be required for frosty conditions. It's also time to start hardening off my lettuce sown in January/February ready for planting out under cover.

Other possibilities include (under cover of some sort if marked with a *, otherwise outdoors is OK):
  • Basil * (and preferably with heat)
  • Dill
  • Radishes
  • Broad beans (if you didn't sow them in November)
  • Turnips for leaves
  • Chard
  • Salad onions
  • Shiso (perilla) * (and with heat)
  • Pak choi
Boy doesn't that make the 3-4 varieties found in shop bought bags of salad seem rather puny? I should be able to start cropping some leaves, such as the lettuce as soon as April. In the meantime sprouted seeds, pea shoots and microgreens are the order of my day.

Now Harvesting

Mags has shown us the harvest possibilities from her polytunnel with her beautifully labelled picture.

Or how about this little lot from Naomi:
Salad Supplements

The new season's salads are just beginning to appear at the greengrocer's, like these radishes I spotted in the above picture in Bristol last Saturday. I'm not so keen on the roots, but the leaves grown as a microgreen to garnish our salads have become a firm, peppery favourite.

I don't know how well the pictured leaves would go down in a salad. Worth a try or a bit tough perhaps? If it's the latter, then they could be added to soups. If you like the roots, then they make a great salad supplement or you could try Yolanda's Radish sandwiches.

If you have a greenhouse or polytunnel, it's also time to start sowing those stalwart summer salad supplements, tomatoes and peppers. My windowsills are packed at the moment, so I'll be obtaining these via other means - more on this to come ;)

Carl has also posted a rather yummy looking Winter Panzanella recipe using pea shoots and foraged chickweed. Which reminds me, Emma has posted a rather handy guide on how to pick indoor grown peashoots so they grow again.

Those of you of a foraging disposition and looking for something other than chickweed to try may like this carrot and ground elder salad recipe. Apparently ground elder tastes like parsley, so if you've been battling it as a weed in your garden, you could change tack and eat lots of it instead.

What salad leaves are you sowing/eating this month?

6 comments:

  1. I am harvesting young beetroot perpetual spinach leaves, both at no effort as they have been in the ground looking after themselves,all winter, plus herbs and pretty violas for a dash of colour. I stumbled across your great blog and the salad challenge gauntlet has really got me thinking and planning.

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  2. I'm heading outside right now to sow some mixed salad leaves under a cloche. I have two little lettuces that germinated over winter in pots in the greenhouse that will go out today also.

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  3. Depending on the long range forecast I may actually start some veggies outside under cover. We are due for a war week.

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  4. I'm so pleased you liked the radish microgreens! I'm beginning to think it's the only way to grow the things.

    Must get hold of some watercress to grow some in a bucket. Must get a bucket, too...

    And I've grown Mangetout 'Shiraz' - and loved them so much I'm growing them again this year. They are about the most gorgeous veg plant I've ever seen - rivalled only by Crimson Flowered broad beans for prettiness. Good flavour and generous crop too :D

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  5. How spooky VP - have never read about chitting peas before until today - yours is the second blog post to mention this technique. Here apart from a few leaves it's been onions, toms and sweet peppers and Kelvedon Wonder peas that have been sown. Will be interested to hear where your toms and peppers are coming from.

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  6. Clare - thank you :) Saladds which look after themselves has got to be the best kind. Seems we have a lot to learn from you too!

    SVG - oooh I've forgotten about my cloches! Must rectify that tomorrow :)

    Donna - we've got a good week ahead according to tonight's forecast. I wonder what a 'war week' is

    TCG - I agree. I do like their pods as well. The roots are a bit hmmm. It's the texture methinks.

    Anna - the link is to a post I wrote a while back. All will be revealed on the toms and peppers front very soon :)

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