Seen at the Festival of the Tree

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

Friday, 26 April 2013

Salad Days: Windowsill Lettuces

Lettuce 'Amaze' looking rather perky a couple of days ago
What a difference a few weeks makes! Spring has sprung at last and those leggy seedlings I showed you last month are transforming themselves into something rather tasty looking.

I've now planted out all my lettuce seedlings into the coldframes and cloches outside, except the pictured 'Amaze'. As you can see from the above picture they're romping away on our bedroom windowsill.

The initial 22 varieties I sowed are now down to 18 - 2 failed to germinate as reported last month and a further two - Mordore and Musson melted away in the overcrowded legginess that was the initial tray of seedlings. I'll catch up with these and some further varieties I've acquired later on in the year.

This month I've taken delivery of several exciting looking items of kit to trial courtesy of Greenhouse Sensation. My initial efforts have focused on the simplest item they've sent: the small Saladgrow planter, which is suitable for windowsill as well as greenhouse growing.

Setting up the Saladgrow: Fully assembled and ready for the windowsill; then L-R, top to bottom:planter feet used to support the upper tray; upper tray showing the water level indicator + wick; upper tray with compost + lettuces added; the opening used for adding water to the lower tray

As you can see it looks like a slightly larger propagator, but there's a twist. The planter sits on top of the horticultural equivalent of a bain-marie (though without the heat) - a lower tray of water and diluted nutrients (provided as part of the kit), complete with a cloth 'wick' dangled from the upper tray which soaks up the water and feeds it through into the compost above. Thus a constant supply of water and nutrients is delivered to the root level and this is one container I won't have to worry about when it comes to holiday watering. I think I've used less compost than with my usual windowbox style containers, but then I might have been using a greater depth than what's needed with them anyway.

It was relatively easy to set up, though I did manage to put the planter feet into the wrong tray at first. Then I started reading the leaflet to find out how I should set things up properly! There are a couple of clarifications with the leaflet I've asked the company to look at and I'm also awaiting an answer to my question on whether the nutrients they supply are suitable for organic growers. I'm also not sure how the water level indicator works: I don't know which way up is correct and I found I could add water to almost overflowing without it showing the tray was full. But overall as you can see it's working well and I'm looking forward to picking our first leaves very soon.

'Bright and Spicy' mixed salad leaves this morning - sowed on March 5th

This month I've also learnt:
  • Some salad mix packets should really say Sow outdoors all year; ready in 3 weeks under absolutely ideal conditions instead of Sow outdoors all year; ready in 3 weeks.  Of course I knew that when I sowed the seeds in the freezing cold over 7 weeks ago, but now I've proved it. ETA is in a couple of weeks...
  • It's possible to oversoak peas (um, I forgot them!) - 5 days soaking rather than overnight slows germination down dramatically and the rate to around 50%

How's your salad faring this month?
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The 52 Week Salad Challenge is sponsored by Greenhouse Sensation.

Note to readers: sponsorship goes towards my blogging costs and does not affect my independence.

11 comments:

  1. awesome post as always I am slow to start at present

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  2. I don't have room inside to start off plants, and it is still way to chilly to plant anything outside, except perhaps for peas. Your lettuce is looking great.

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  3. Just planted my salad fixings outside and I have some that was overwintered under cover. I'll link in next Monday. Can't wait to start eating fresh veggies again.

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  4. Yummy looking salad. They are comming along wounderfuly.

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    Replies
    1. Welcome and thanks Melissa :)

      NB the Mr Linky is for people to update with their salad related posts as this is a regular monthly meme I run on the blog. You're most welcome to join in with any salad progress you have to report!

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  5. What a fantastic and timely propagator to trial - it's certainly worked for your Amaze lettuces, they look very handsome! I'm joining the challenge and have added a linky to my post ... now off to read up Charles Dowding on salad leaves!

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  6. https://plus.google.com/u/1/106704368739672674589/posts/29J6zjtoi1n

    Can you eat hop shoots? Like pea shoots? Or cooked?

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  7. The Amaze look amazing, really healthy and compact. I put out my first lot of lettuce (green oak leaf) and mustard leaves the other day. Just wondering whether the slugs have eaten them overnight... If not I shall venture out with the camera and see what is available for the eating of.

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  8. Linda - everyone is starting late this year. The best thing to do is to start now :)

    CG - we've been growing loads of pea shoots for the challenge!

    Donna - brilliant, thanks.

    Caro - great to have you joining in! Will stop by at yours later. Charles Dowding has been really helpful for this challenge :)

    Diana - I don't know - must investigate further...

    CJ - hurray you found something, 'cos you've joined in. Will come over for a look later :)

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  9. Yummy looking lettuces emerging - I have been getting by on the leaves I planted in the greenhouse beds, the rocket and mustards are growing faster than I can pick them now, but I should soon have some outdoor lettuces ready to pick too, the raised beds heat up so well. Like the look of that salad planter, could be ideal for someone with little to no garden. Might mention it to sil...

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  10. Janet - I think it would make a great pressie for your SIL. You might need to check dimensions though...

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