Seen at the Festival of the Tree

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

Friday, 27 June 2014

Salad Days: Intercropping, Limp Lettuce and Nightshade Tomatoes


My Nepalese allotment neighbour's putting me to shame. Not only is she growing a huge amount of blemish free lettuce, she is cleverly intercropping her onions amongst them. I wonder if the smell of the onions is helping to keep the slugs and snails at bay? Much food for thought here going forward...

We also swapped stories of what we use lettuce for in addition to salad. She uses it as a stir fried vegetable, just for a few seconds so the leaves are wilted a bit like we do with spinach sometimes. I countered with using it for soup, especially with older leaves or at the end of summer.

I've been cropping my lettuce leaves grown outside my back door since we came home and made a great discovery after some hasty harvesting earlier in the week. I put my leaves straight into a bag then popped them in the salad crisper in the fridge, only to find some rather limp and forlorn looking lettuce the next day.

The leaves needed a wash if I was to use them, so I decided to give them a nice long soak in some cool water and hey presto! no more limp lettuce. I suspect I wouldn't have had the same result with supermarket bagged salad. Another plus point for growing your own salad leaves :)


I'm doing a number of tomato trials this year and so far my black tomatoes are proving to be the most exciting. This is Indigo Rose, courtesy of Suttons. I've had fruit on my plants since the beginning of May which is the earliest I've ever seen tomatoes fruiting in my garden.

It can't be long until the all important taste test and I can't wait to try them, despite them resembling black nightshade's big brother. Though it would appear that reports of the latter's toxicity may be overstated.

I'll be back to tell you more about these, after the taste test :)

How's your salad faring this month?

16 comments:

  1. lol, I'm glad you have plot neighbour envy as well, we have Miss Perfect on ours grrrrrr lol

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  2. Hi Julee and welcome :) Luckily we get on really well and it's interesting to talk to her about the Nepalese way of life.

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  3. Clever thought with the onions. I have tried garlic and potatoes this year to try to deter mice, they had most of my spuds last year. I just hope they don't all come up smelling of garlic!

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    1. I've never heard mice going for spuds, however I love garlic potatoes :-)

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  4. I wonder though whether the onions will get too damp under the lettuce?

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    1. The day after I took the photo she started thinning out the lettuces around the onions. I was given some of them too :-)

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  5. Those black tomatoes look amazing. I like the idea of intercropping but I never get on very well with it.
    Salad is results are mixed. I have a lovely crop if Little Gem and more coming on but I had to pull up my mixed salad leaves as they were destroyed by flea beetles. I suppose the only answer is grow them under fleece. Maybe I'll sow some more. Any ideas?

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    1. I must admit I just ignore the holes and eat the leaves anyway, they still taste the same. I tear the leaves up when making salad so that means the holey leaves are less unsightly. Otherwise, yes fleece should help keep the beetles at bay

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    2. I don't mind a few holes but there was more hole than leaf!

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  6. I tried intercropping with onions, but only once because it turned out that the slugs in my garden really like onions (and everything else, though they often only chew through the stalks and leave the rest).

    I don't grow much in the way of salad leaves because a neighbour advised me that it's not worth bothering here (slugs again). That said, I am trying purslane this year, and so far it's mostly unmolested. It is still very small, though.

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    1. It's an amazing year for slugs and snails. I've found some on the bramble up at the plot - ouch!

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  7. I like to see the odd hole in veg I don't mind it at all, reminds me it hasn't been sprayed, good for the family and good for the creatures in the garden. Not had limp lettuce before but always wash in a bowl of cold water before bagging up in the fridge.

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    1. Damo, this was the one time I didn't wash my lettuce before putting it in the fridge. As I learnt something in the process, I think that's a fair exchange for my negligence :)

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  8. I'm interested in the intercropping. I've heard that basil is fantastic to stick around tomatoes but as I'm growing in pots alone, I'm a bit nervous about having the basil suck all of the nutrition out of the soil. What do you think, could a pot sustain both? Also, I'm really impressed by your Indigo Rose! I bought a couple at the Chelsea Flower show but although they're tall, I haven't had a crop yet. Watching with interest to see what you think!

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    1. Hi Cat, my Bob Flowerdew book on companion planting says basil+ tomatoes is a classic combination. Thinking about it, basil is comparatively shallow rooted compared to the tomatoes, so it's worth a try. Remember, with a pot you're having to water it a lot anyway and need to feed the plants regularly.

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  9. We also grow lettuce in our back garden, and we have only few plants but they supply our needs for some fresh leaves. I still need to learn how to sow to have a continous supply of them ;)

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