Friday, 13 July 2012

Salads for July

The start of my new salad area - more to come in a later post
At last my salad leaves aren't just feeding my national collection of slugs and there's enough for us as well -  we're picking various lettuce, coriander, greek basil, parsley, rocket, pea shoots and flowers, plus nasturtium leaves and flowers. The latter have ignored all the wet weather and scrambled themselves all over my potatoes up at the allotment.

A few tomatoes are also making their way onto our plates, but the daily blightwatch emails mean I fear for their future.

Whilst summer production is in full swing, as ever I need to keep an eye on the future. It's time to think about salads suitable for late autumn and into winter.

Up at the allotment I've sown bulb fennel and late carrots. NAH and I love the aniseed taste of fennel: early on we'll add some feathery fronds and the thinnings to our plates, then switch to bulbs for the autumn. Here in the south west we can normally enjoy them well into November.

Seed packets extracted from my seed tin ready for sowing include:
  • Beetroot 'Bull's Blood' - just for their colourful leaves
  • Winter lettuce - I'm trying 'Valdor' for the first time this year
  • Lamb's lettuce - for a mild, bulk leaf for our winter plates
  • Endive - to add a sharper taste
  • Mizuna - another good, productive leaf
  • Pak choi - new for me this year
  • Land cress - a reliable winter producer and a great peppery taste
  • Various mustards - 'Green Frills' and 'Giant Red' for some fiery heat
  • Winter purslane - this was doing really well when I visited Charles Dowding earlier this year
  • Chervil - I went to Wisley on Wednesday and picked up a packet to try. It's interesting reading the backs of the packets from the various seed companies - some say it can be harvested year round, others just a few months. It'll be interesting to see how I fare.
Anything else you'd like to add to the list?

NB I'm compiling a 'Top bloggers and tweeters recommend' list of favourite lettuce varieties for a future 52 Week Salad Challenge blog post. I'd love to hear what your favourites are and why - just leave me a comment and I'll add your faves to the list :)

9 comments:

  1. I do like lettuce so choosing my favourites is a little difficult. How many am I allowed? I'm going to choose 4 - is that excessive?
    Freckles - which is a speckly Cos style lettuce and I love it because being a Cos the leaves are really versatile and being spotty its fun to look at. Salad Bowl - because it grows equally well in summer and winter for me. It doesn't bolt too quickly and it tastes good. Oakleaf - any variety, great to pick leaves off as you need them, the variety of colours makes them attractive to grow in a group and they taste great in a salad. Iceberg - it may be a bit passe these days but its hard to find anything else with that wonderful crunch and wrapped around a spring roll with a sprig of mint and a chilli dipping sauce there is truly nothing better. Unfortunately I've never had much success growing iceberg lettuce...maybe this spring....

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  2. I've just bought Charles Dowdings book to have a helping hand to hold as I forge my way into the realms of winter salads. A bit over dramatic, I suppose, but the prospect of seeing things grow over winter is pretty exciting. Dill is also lovely in salads as is coriander.

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  3. Liz - I already had you done for Freckles, thanks for the others, especially as you've given such good reasons for each one :)

    Chelsea - it's a great book, so you're in good hands. I have some dill seeds to try next year.

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  4. spent the day in the veg garden and harvested quite a bit that i will post about in a couple of weeks...sowing more seeds for a later harvest...

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  5. That's great Donna - let me know when you've posted and if you have a favourite kind of lettuce!

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  6. Love love love lambs lettuce. another fave is iceberg types, I love their crunch and sweetness.

    Almost given up on growing anything this summer though, so many failures on the veg side. Fruit seems to be holding its own though.

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  7. Zoe - another vote for iceberg lettuce :)

    Fruit is doing well here too, apart from the early blossoming fruit trees which bloomed at the wrong time and were caught by the frost. On the other hand I've been picking autumn fruiting raspberries since June!

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  8. Following your request for our favourite lettuce, I have realised that I actually eat far more brassicas in salads - rocket, mustard greens, pak choi, chards, even very young cabbage leaves. I guess saying one of these are my favourite is not helpful though.

    I have had quite a bit of success on growing chervil indoors, and can usually keep it going in a pot over winter, as long as I have germinated them before October. I love chervil, tasty, unusual and really easy to grow. I'm sure you'll have no problem with it.

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  9. ediblethings - thanks. I must remember to add your comments to the non-lettuce tried and trusted list when I get around to blogging it :)

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