Seen at The Festival of the Tree

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

Friday, 31 August 2012

Last Call For Winter Salads

Raddichio and Rocket - I'm experimenting with a modified square foot style approach for salads in pots ready for picking. All my winter leaves will be added to this arrangement when I've potted up my module sowings
The August Bank Holiday always signals my noticing the nights are drawing in and we've even had frost mentioned in the weather forecast this week (yes frost! In the balmy south-west! In August!).

So now's a good time to plan ahead and make the final salad sowings to see us through the winter months. It's a bit of a race against time, because the ever decreasing daylength and temperature means it's important for sowings to have sufficient time to grow enough leaves before they effectively grind to a halt in October/November.

There's still time to sow the absolute winter stalwarts until mid September: peppery land cress, rocket (I prefer wild), lamb's lettuce and winter purslane. These usually resist whatever the winter throws at them, even when they're left outdoors.

The 52 Week Salad Challenge means I'm also trying some new tastes for this year in the shape of various oriental leaves. I was impressed by everyone's reports of Mizuna doing well at the beginning of the year. I've grown it before but it's tended to remain neglected and overrun by weeds up at the allotment. By shifting my salad growing to home this year means I can keep a closer eye on it and actually pick some. This will be going into my coldframe alongside sowings of mustard ('Red giant') and komatsuna.

I've also sown some 'Bull's Blood' beetroot for their leaves. It might be too late, so we'll see. Turnips for leaves can be sown until mid-September so I'm applying the same thinking for my beetroot!

There's quite a few salad mixes which can be sown year-round for baby leaves, so it's worth looking at your packets to see what possibilities you have in store. I'll be keeping these on hand for emergency windowsill growing should any of my crops fail in the coming months.

Do you have any favourites to add to the list?

NB BBC Breakfast News reported earlier this week the price of iceberg lettuce is 65% up on last year, so now is the perfect time to join the 52 Week Salad Challenge! As well as the above ideas on what you can sow now, my  52 Week Salad Challenge Page has lots of information to help you on your way :)

7 comments:

  1. A frost...ugghh...we have temps still in the 90s with no cool down yet and maybe rain from the remnants of the hurricane as it moves into the North US. We should be cooling down now some in a normal year. I sowed fall lettuces a couple of weeks ago for our climate and hope to keep them under a row cover as they are planted in bags on the patio...then I will also plant some under lights on the basement after Christmas...love the challenge.

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  2. Hi Michelle, I'm really going to experiment with lettuces and other leaves that can survive outdoors over winter in London this year too. I'm just about to sow lots of mustard leaves, including 'Green in Snow ' and 'Red Knight' mizuna. I have some 'Freckles' lettuce seedlings to go in the ground to see how well they fare later in the year and also will be sowing 'Merveille de Quatre Saisons' and 'Valdor' butterhead lettuces. Let the big chill begin.....

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  3. Timely post. Seeded today. It's been so hot, but the evenings now are cooling (blue moon tonight) so fingers crossed all will germinate and once I put the cold frame over it all, later on, we should have greens into the coldest months.

    Bulls Blood is a favourite of ours in our Nova Scotia garden...the flavor is exceptional, as well as the texture. You won't be disappointed. Blancoma also has lovely leaves. Good additions in a Ceasar salad and in fact, in a pinch, a good substitute when one doesn't have those lovely romaines.

    outofmyshed sounds like she has it together..some good stalwarts there.Intrigued by the red knight mizuna...must look for that.Have only grown a green variety.

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  4. Donna - sounds good. Looking forward to seeing how the Challenge progresses for you. I'm especially intrigued by your basement efforts :)

    Naomi - like gardeningbren I haven't come across 'Red Knight' before. I must investigate!

    Bren - will investigate Balncoma on my return from holiday :)

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  5. I just found my mustard "green in snow" seeds, which has to be worth a go. Now that I have been re-united with my seed trays and modules I am going to try sowing for leaves in the greenhouse too. I've missed so much of the growing season, having some leaves to pick would be wonderful.

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  6. Woops where did the weeks go......
    forgot to post my latest salad update. Yesterday i planted out my Mizuna seedlings which i grew in my cold frame over the last couple of weeks of winter, an interesting crop I like it in stir fry too.
    Wow a frost already, good luck getting those salad seedlings moving.

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  7. Janet - I picked up some 'green in snow' seeds when I was at Harrogate Show last week. I'll see how a windowsill sowing fares...

    Starting the 52 Week Salad Challenge in January has shown it's never too late to start and there's lots you can do over the winter to have fresh leaves. My Page in the sidebar has lots of info to get you started should you need it :)

    Andrea - it's always good to hear from you, even if it's just a quick update in the comments :)

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