Seen at the Festival of the Tree

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

Friday, 22 November 2013

Salad Days: Hunkered Down for Winter


It's been a long, slow autumn this year, which means I'm still picking plenty of salad leaves - enough for a couple of meals a week. Here's a 'warts and all' view of my allotment salad. It's also overrun with salsify which has self seeded itself into my raised beds. Time to get weeding!

This week's colder weather means re-growth at the plot and in my home based cold frames has slowed right down. As I have plenty snuggled under protection, I'll still be able to pick lots of salad for a few more weeks, but now is the time to start my indoor sowings of pea shoots in readiness for leaner times.


I've been really pleased with this new lettuce variety 'Intred', which is providing a colourful addition to the salad bowl. It's thriving under a cloche, producing plenty of tasty leaves beneath a protective layer of tougher outer ones. My lettuce 'Marveille de Quatre Saisons' and chicory 'Treviso Rosso' seed tape leaves sown in August are also standing well beneath their fleece and cloche protection respectively.

Soon it'll be time to switch to sprouted seed and microgreen production and my 52 Week Salad Challenge cycle will start all over again.

How's your salad faring? What steps are you taking to keep your crops going this winter? Add your news in the comments, or add the URL of your salad related blog post in Mr Linky below. NB there are some great comments as well as the links :)

14 comments:

  1. Enjoyed the peek at your salad pickings VP and have made a note to self that salsify self seeds. Sowed some in September to take down to the allotment next year. That lettuce looks great. Good news here on the allotment front . A letter in the post this morning to say my rent for next year will be cheaper. Must be a first!

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    1. Hi Anna - I'm paying the price for being so indulgent with the self-sown plants I allowed to grow on the plot in the summer. It's a fab plant with a great dandelion clock-like seed head and just like dandelions, those seeds get everywhere. Luckily those shoots are edible, so I can make soup from my weeding :)

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  2. I love the look of that Intred lettuce, very beautiful! Must put that on my list for next year. I'm afraid my salad challenge stopped some weeks back - I was finally defeated by constant visits from local cats which is rather off putting where food is concerned. My winter project is to once again try to find a solution to keep them out - they're now breaking through the netting around my raised beds! My nasturtiums are finally beginning to keel over in the colder nights so I've collected the seeds to preserve as "capers" and the last few flowers to join a salad of leaves, sadly from a supermarket bag! Roll on next year, but I'll join you in sowing pea shoots.

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    1. Hi Caro - yes, it's rather good to find a red cos type lettuce to add some colour. The low winter sun when I took that photo suited it rather well :)
      Re your cat problem - I've had a similar problem here at at home. I've found Naomi's tip in Veg Street has worked rather well. My beds have lots of thorny rose prunings on them - I have to be a bit careful when I pick my salad, but at least I know I'm not going to be grubbing around in cat poo!

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  3. Lovely salad, especially that red one. I didn't sow nearly enough salad last year - almost none in fact. Not sure why, I think because I was concentrating on the allotment I didn't put in much at home. I'm determined to do better, as we eat salad every day for lunch. Your salad posts are quite inspirational, thank you.

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    1. Aw thanks CJ :-) We've found with the salad challenge that it can be started at any time of the year. If you have any opened packets of pea seed, you could start growing some pea shootsright now.

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  4. A wintry mix fell all day today, and I forgot to cover my salad rows so they're mostly gone. I do have a few chard and some Chinese red mustard in the cold frame. Also, the kale will come through it as will the turnips. You can always count on those. Happy Salad Days!

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    1. Hi Dee - I went to visit a friend a month ago and frost was forecast, so I mansged to cover them up in time for once!

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  5. The thorny rose prunings tip is duly noted, as is 'Intred', though having seen the number of packets of lettuce seeds I have I don't think I will be allowing myself to try anything new for a while! Will dig out peas to sow once my visitors have left, and am hoping to clear enough space in the conservatory to set up the grow light and experiment a little. it has not been a good year for keeping my salad leaves going. Ah well, and to think that this time last year I was happily picking pak choi, mibuna, mizuna, various lettuce leaves... Thank goodness I can try again next year!!

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    1. Hi Janet - that's the beauty of gardening, each year is different and if something's not a success, then there's always next year!

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  6. I've had a fab email from Wendy who's sent me come pictures of her rooftop salad and a detailed account of what's happening :)

    She blogs about her rooftop garden at here and here's what she has to say:

    Even in Central London night temperatures are plummeting, but I don't think I've had a frost yet on the rooftop veg plot. This autumn I planted more trays of cut and come again (early September) and I've been snipping ever since. I've popped the trays inside a plastic grow house that is on my living room balcony (not the roof top). It's proximity to my dining table is very convenient. The American Land Cress has been particularly successful. I'm on my second cutting now. I'm wishing I'd planted more seed trays as I'm having to ration everything.
    I realise that the advice about succession sowing is a bit irrelevant for winter greens. I sowed this lot all on the same day. They come up at different speeds and I cut them as and when. Then once the winter sets in they seem to sit there and grow so slowly that they keep for ages.
    The seeds I sowed later aren't doing so well. Now we're not getting ten hours of daylight I think I would need to add grow lights as well as heat to really get seeds sprouting.
    But I will be trying cresses and alfalfa soon.
    Always like your veg blog. Keep sowing ideas!
    Wendy

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    1. Wendy - you can always move indoors and do some pea shoot and microgreen sowing plus some seed sprouting. I'll be showing you a salad recipe soon which will help to eke out those leaves :)

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  7. So lucky to have such an extended season...ours is done in October. Snowing here now.

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    1. Hi Donna - I used to think October was the end of our season too, but it seems that November likes to surprise me on a regular basis ;)

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