Seen at The Festival of the Tree

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

Friday, 22 June 2012

Salad Days: Salads for Damp Places

Some fetching lettuce 'Freckles' seen at the rather special  Easton Walled Gardens earlier this week
I thought it would be a good idea to start with the above photo more as an encouragement to me that it IS possible to grow lashings of salad outdoors this year.

It's been so wet over the past few weeks, and once again most of my leaves have been eaten down to their stumps by the hordes of voracious slugs and snails which have invaded my salad area. I know I'm not alone -  I've seen too many moans on Twitter about the problem!

So I'm about to try a different tack with my salad production and turning my attention to those leaves which don't mind wet feet. It probably means we'll get a heatwave now, but hey, that's a win-win situation, right?

Growing
  • Watercress - you don't need loads of water as commercially available seed can be grown successfully in damp soils. I grow mine in a big pot and make sure the drip tray is kept well topped up. Other #saladchatterers have grown cuttings taken from bagged supermarket watercress in various buckets and bowls. Reported success is variable, but I think it's worth a try until my sown seed starts to produce...
  • Other members of the watercress family, such as land cress are also worth a try and can be grown in the usual way
  • Sorrel - recommended by Cally at Country Gate Gardens
  • Mint - likes to be kept moist. I'd only use a few leaves as a 'garnish' in my salad owing to its strong, distinctive flavour. Does anyone have a good recipe for salad which includes mint for us to try?
  • So far our salad grown this way looks like it's going to have lots of sharp, strong, or peppery flavours. Can you add to the list?
Foraging

Chatting to Carl Legge this week confirmed that foraging in damp places (assuming you have somewhere suitable) might be a better prospect than trying to grow your own and keeping things damp. He offers up a new (to me anyway) edible plant: golden saxifrage - the opposite leaved version, or this one, which has alternate leaves. Both inhabit the same kind of damp places.

Others to find:

  • Dandelions - not really a plant specifically from damp places, but it still seems to be thriving everywhere despite the rain. I could start a new campaign called Eat Your Lawn with mine ;)
  • Samphire - as well as a salad ingredient it's also delicious cooked like asparagus and dripping with butter :)
  • Comfrey doesn't mind it damp and can be substituted for spinach as well as making your comfrey tea!
  • Water mint - as a substitute for the garden mint noted above
  • Wintercress - a wild substitute for cultivated land cress
  • Ribwort plantain - young leaves only, so it's really only a candidate for spring foraging. It tolerates damp rather than liking absolutely waterlogged conditions and is another candidate for Eat Your Lawn
  • Can you add to the list?

Now it's your turn. How's your salad progressing this month? Write a post on your blog and leave a link  in Mr Linky below (NB to the post itself, not to just your blog name, so we can find it easily)

11 comments:

  1. Just enjoyed a salad for lunch at a a favourite pub that uses seasonal ingredients - baby broad beans (shelled)with crumbs of fresh sheep's curd and finely chopped mint in a light vinaigrette served with a couple of slices of light and airy focaccia with massive holes! delicious, I've used goats curd myself which has a a slightly stronger taste, or you could use the mint with small pieces of feta

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  2. Re using Mint in salads: why not make some Tabbouleh, with bulghur wheat and lashings of Mint and Parsley?

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  3. For some reason, I've had no problem getting plenty of salad leaves from my favourite HSL, Bronze Arrow. And the Franchi green and red lettuces are doing wonderfully too. I think the slugs were busy with other things like attacking the french beans, and have totally left my lettues alone. #blessed

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  4. NevilleB - that sounds delicious. I must give it a try, thank you :)

    Mark - welcome! I've only ever used parsley in Tabbouleh. Mixed with mint sounds great!

    Julieanne - I think my problem is they're in an area on their own, so there's nothing else around to tempt them away. Definitely a lesson learned...

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  5. I haven't managed to get it together to do a post for the chat this month, but I am looking forward to reading everyone else's.

    I love mint. Of course, the classic is mint tea, which helps use up a lot of stems at once. Where I live, many of my neighbours just use the mint, and no black tea.

    My go-to salad for mint is a Nigel Slater one, with radish, cucumber, spring onion, mint and flat leaved parsley: veg cut chunky, except the spring onions,which are finely sliced; use the whole parsley leaves and roughly torn mint; mix together in a salad bowl; crumble over some good quality feta; then dress roughly with a glug of red wine (or homemade blackberry) vinegar, a larger glug of good ev olive oil, and some pepper. Very, very good. It's always a hit when I serve it at parties.

    I think I saw that one of the chefs on the Great British Menu used the dried flowers of the ribwort plantain. Has anyone else used them like this?

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  6. Unfortunately my veg post with salad fixings is 2 weeks away but I do like this post. We are besieged by slugs so it is good to hear there are some alternatives.

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  7. My Cos Freckles lettuces planted in the middle of the garden are progressing marvellously due to wetness of weather, but other lettuces nearer to walls and fences have been happily gobbled up by slugs and snails. relieved not to have had to water during hosepipe ban, but wonder if tomatoes will ever grow taller than a foot let alone fruit!

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  8. Isn't Freckles lettuce fabulous. I use heaps of mint in my salads. Other than tabouleh, which is my favourite salad of all time, try beetroot mint & feta, or pumpkin, orange, mint & quinoa. REcipes for both are on my blog.

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  9. ediblethings - sounds marvellous will give it a try when NAH's away next week 'cos he hates beetroot and I love it! Do you have a fave recipe for blackberry vinegar?

    Donna - I'll look out for it and add to the list :)

    OOMS - my toms are shivering too but just checked and they're trying to flower!

    Liz - your recipes are fabulous thank you :)

    I've had so many good ideas for using mint, I can feel a blog post coming on. Will link to everyone who's contributed :)

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  10. Re the slugs: I have found that any red salad is less attractive to them than its green equivalent. Slightly less attractive to me too :-( , but always better than nothing!

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  11. Annemieke - welcome! Interesting observation re red lettuce leaves being less attractive to the slugs. I wonder what that is - slightly more bitter perhaps?

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