Friday, 21 September 2012

My Salad: Rich Pickings and Starting Afresh


The new salad beds sprouted lots more leaves whilst I was away, despite my giving them a good haircut to supplement my Ultimate Travellers' Salad. As you can see, regular picking's made these oakleaf types much taller than usual as happens with most salad plants picked in this way. I wouldn't expect them to reach this kind of height until they're getting ready to go to seed. A quick inspection showed they're still in leaf production mode.

I've come back to a leaf glut. It'd be great if you could help me by offering up your ideas of what to do with them, other than in salad. I already have recipes for lettuce and lovage soup (plus sorrel or watercress or spinach) and plenty of pesto variations. I'm looking for other recipes which use up lots of salad leaves or herbs, which I'll feature in a future post. If you've already offered them via Salad Days, previous Comments or via #saladchat don't worry, they're already included :)

Which reminds me, our next Salad Days is next Friday, so it's nearly time to show me your salad! Or for you to blog a glutbuster recipe to share...


I've realised I haven't told you much about my new salad area, even though you've glimpsed it before. Allow me to introduce you to the narrow place between the front of our house and our neighbours. There's just enough room widthwise for a cold frame and me. This area is laid to gravel, faces east and very rarely gets much sun. It's an ideal place to demonstrate salad can be grown successfully in small, unlikely places! Probably the only things going for it are our house provides some shelter and many salad leaves like shade.

I acquired 3 old Belfast sinks from my friend P at choir earlier this year to form the basis of my new salad beds. I added a layer of gravel to each of them for drainage, plus the soil from a turf stack that had been lying around since I dug up part of the front lawn a number of years ago. Two were topped with peat-free multipurpose compost and the other with biochar ready for a comparison trial. More on that in a later post.

I rescued the coldframe from my allotment where I hadn't made best use of it. It's sheltering one of the Belfast sinks and currently playing host to a very productive cucumber. I have cloches waiting in the wings for the other 2 Belfast sinks. I also have a pot of carrots on the go, ready for later in the year.


Most of the individual winter pots I showed you earlier are filling out nicely - as are the number of pots - ready to go into the space in the coldframe next to the sink (in the modified square foot arrangement I described), or to replace the cucumber.  The 'Amaze' lettuce has now turned completely red since I took its photo for my lettuce preference post. The slugs haven't touched them whilst I was away.

The one disappointment is the wild rocket. Two pots are looking very sorry for themselves and another is already in flower. It looks like I'll be looking to the other two pots for some winter pepperiness.


I've had mixed fortunes with the seeds I sowed before holiday too. The pictured mizuna and pak choi are looking very perky, as are the chervil, fennel and lamb's lettuce. The spinach is still to emerge or has been eaten (though there's no slime trails in evidence to suggest the latter) and my 'Bulls Blood' beet emergence is patchy, yielding just enough plants for a sprinkling of rich, earthy redness through the winter.

I bought some ordinary and variegated landcress whilst I was away which I'll be sowing today. It's probably too late for them to provide much for the winter, but at least they should help kick start the spring. @mandahill said she found the variegated land cress didn't grow so well when we were having a #saladchat, so it'll be interesting to see how my packet fares.

How's your salad coming along?

11 comments:

  1. Your salad looks great! My efforts were rewarded early in the year but my last 3 sowing were all completely eaten by slugs just as they were getting towards harvesting size... I'll keep going with the salad crops but may have to start growing them in the greenhouse. Even those grown in a cold frame were eaten.

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  2. SVG - thank you :) I've had loads of slug and snail problems, especially early in the year as have most people :(

    My new salad area is a part of the garden which hasn't been cultivated before. I think the slugs are yet to find it ;)

    I'm always surprised at how many snails creep into my cold frames. I suppose they provide plenty of shelter. just like my pots...

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  3. Hi, have been following 'salad days' for a while but only just got my allotment up and running so only just sowing. Is it worth putting in a row of beetroot, or salad leaves now, or is it getting too cold for them. Appreciate any advice! #newbie

    Thanks

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  4. Hi Black and Tabby - welcome and thanks for following how we're doing with the Challenge :)

    You need to be very quick as light levels and temperatures will really start to drop away after the equinox this weekend.

    After that, you can try sowings of mizuna and radish into October, but you're unlikely to get much to pick until around mid February when light levels pick up again.

    Probably best to keep some fleece or other frost protection handy too just in case.

    If you're still itching to start growing on your allotment it's prime garlic and autumn onion set planting time - not salad related I know, but they're 2 of the things I love to get started now as it's uplifting to see something's 'in' on the allotment during the winter months.

    You can also grow microgreens, pea shoots and sprout seeds indoors over the winter months to supplement anything you manage to grow outdoors. There's plenty of info about that on my 52 Week Salad page in the sidebar as we started our growing in January!

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  5. Although not blessed with a surplus of salad this year :-(, in my files I have two recipes using plenty of lettuce, which are not soup or pesto:

    MARROW SOUP
    1200g cleaned marrow, 2 carrots, 2 potatoes, 2 onions, lettuce leaves, 1/2 tsp curry powder, thyme, bay leaves.
    Prepare the veg and put in 2l boiling water with the curry powder, thyme and bay. Cook till done, mash.

    and

    LETTUCE-PEA MASH
    800g potatoes, 200g (just bolting?) lettuce, 300g peas after podding, 60g butter, salt.
    Cook potatoes in salted water; add peas 5 minutes before they are done. Add chopped lettuce, stir in and heat through thoroughly. Add butter, mash.

    The taste of the second recipe depends on the quality of your peas. Homegrown good, Tesco Value frozen - less so!
    With love, Annemieke Wigmore
    http://thoughtforfood-aw.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hi AW - thanks for those :) Your marrow soup is very similar to the 'allotment soup' variation I often make at this time of year.

    Will try the mash as a topping the next time I make fish pie :)

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  7. When we had too many leaves earlier in the year used some in a stir fry and it was quite successful.

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  8. I'm very envious of your salads, and completely unsympathetic to the idea of a glut (hollow laugh), as the slugs have eaten all of mine. Seven replantings and all I get is bigger slugs.

    When I did have a glut - sigh - I became sadly addicted to a lettuce sandwich. With onion. Yum. I expect that's how the slugs are enjoying them too...

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  9. John C - welcome :) A lot of the oriental leaves are excellent for stir fries. I wonder of these are what you used? You've got me thinking whether it'd work with some of my lettuce...

    beangenie - it's a belated glut as I've had lots of slug and snail damage too. Thanks for the reminder that leaves go down very well when added to sandwiches :)

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  10. I really do recommend braising them in a little stock, and serving with hot food, really delicious.

    If you have wholes chicory or raddicio, then you can halve and char them very quickly in a pan, and serve them with puy lentils or borlotti beans, salad dressing and garlic.

    And the mustard greens, and other brassicas are always great to stir fry, or wilt like you would spinach

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  11. ediblethings - thanks for those ideas Mel. Duly noted ready for my glutbuster post :) Black and Tabby's question is inspiring another post too - need to decide which one to do first...

    ReplyDelete

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