Salad Days: Tucking Up For Winter

Battening down the hatches ready for winter. I'm also going to line the sides of this coldframe with some polystyrene sheets I've found to keep things as warm as possible

Today has significance at VP Gardens because it's the last day we have daylight for 10 hours until the middle of February next year. It means my salad plants won't be growing much over the next few months even if today's wintry temperature goes back to the unseasonal warmth we had earlier this week.

Salad leaves need both a decent temperature and sufficient light to grow. The experience we've had during the 52 Week Salad Challenge so far suggests for many of us light is the more restricting factor in winter, even though quite a few salad crops usually do well in shade during the summer. I suspect in summer temperature has the major part to play as lettuce don't like things to be too hot and tend to bolt if they are. In that situation the shade is enough to keep them feeling comfortable.

We've found that plants grown indoors in reasonable warmth still don't really get going during most of the winter months, hence our anecdotal thoughts that light levels have the edge in restricting growth at this time. My thanks to @GillyinAriege whose #saladchat conversation with @Bosleypatch this week reminded me of our shared experiences earlier this year.

As you can see I've brought my plants under cover. This protection will keep things a degree or two warmer than outside and help keep off damaging frosts. Elsewhere there's various cloches covering lettuces and other oriental leaves as well as another coldframe protecting rocket, fennel, land cress, lamb's lettuce and chervil. I've also potted up some mint and flat leaved parsley for windowsill grown supplies and my sowings of pea shoots have recommenced.

Unlike the past few months these supplies won't keep us in our 3-4 salads per week. I reckon I need a patch about four times the size I'm using to do that over the winter months.These coldframe/ cloche grown plants, plus various windowsill supplies and the odd bit of foraging should see us enjoying at least one weekly home grown salad for the next few months.

Not everyone has 10 hours of daylight today, nor good temperatures for growing. To work out your local light and temperature averages for growing outdoors, have a look at my post on What's the Weather for Salad?

NB don't forget the clocks go back here in the UK at 2am on Sunday morning.

Mr Linky is now open for this month's contributions. Many thanks for your posts and those you've provided previously. NB when entering your link, enter the URL of your blog post, rather than your blog, so we can still find out what you've been up to salad-wise after you've published further posts.


  1. Just the one from me, but I am currently up to my eyeballs in preserving, so I am going to have a foraging post or two up soon, including hedgerow dressings. I'll add them to this month.

    I was also sprouting some burdock seed, but they got forgotten in a rush when I went back to the UK for a week, and they got mouldy. Luckily, I picked enough seed to keep going, so I'll let you know how that goes too.

    I was wondering if the fennel got nice and fat, or if you were using the herb more, Michelle?

  2. Mel - really great post from you thanks :)

    Looking forward to your dressings posts as we haven't had that many so far, so they'll really help to complete this resource.

    I've moved the fennel under cover too. As I suspected I sowed the seeds too late so the bulbs are tasty. I've been snipping the thinnings on our salads over the past few weeks. It's been good to have a new flavour to add to our salads (thanks @Zebbakes!) especially as the coriander and Greek basil have come to a halt.

  3. You are so clever... envious that you'll have Salad during Winter. I'm afraid it's too late for us. First snow yesterday.

  4. I have to rush outside with some fleece and protect my little row of fennel plants and maybe move some things into the cold frame. Thanks for the reminder Michelle - have a lovely weekend xx

  5. Carolyn - thank you and welcome :) I'm not really clever, I'm simply catching up with all the Challenge peeps who did the same this time last year.

    Joanna - eek I got your twitter name wrong - it's @Zeb_Bakes folks! The fennel's started to really feather up well this week and we have tiny bulbs the size of finger nails. If we'd had last year's mild and sunny autumn, I reckon we'd a have a feast of decent sized bulbs by now. The taste of the frond thinnings have been really good, so thank you for the seeds!

  6. Lettuce and salad leaves generally grow well here over winter but our minimum daylight hours are around 11 -12 rather than your 10.

  7. Liz - yes 11-12 hours is even better. 10 hours keeps things ticking over rather than full-on edible growth.

  8. Very wise to have just something growing in the depths of Winter. I don't usually pull my finger out in time. I did have some spinach, but Leo trod all over it!!

  9. Hi Matron - I'm having a similar problem, but with a neighbourhood cat!

  10. It's just a quick blog post this month, I've been busy with family visiting. I've brought my salad into the cold frame too.

  11. Thanks Margaret, your posts are always most welcome :)

  12. Finally got my post up...hope you enjoy it.

  13. Thanks Donna - I'm visiting all the Salad Challengers later on today :)

  14. My November:
    I go out and pick a few leaves of red looseleaf salad, from their hidey holes in the slugcollars. Plus some Moroccan cress, more like a lettuce really. They have all stood the colder weather well and I don't think the slug collars are really necessary as slugs aren't keen on red.
    I have them with my sandwiches, along with slices of mooli/white radish, always a good autumn standby.
    As the year progresses, the mooli will be replaced by black radish. Peel those (the black is very sharp), and they are just what the doctor orders until well in March.
    In the meanwhile, those little lambs' lettuces are winking at me, promising plenty of winter goodies.
    By the way, mooli's and black radish should never be kept in plastic, or in the fridge. They don't like that anymore than you and me: a paper bag in a cold shed is best.
    In the UK, the radishes should be sown in July and August, respectively. The lambs' lettuce as well: let some go to seed and don't do too much hoeing, and you'll have them forever.
    Annemieke Wigmore,

  15. Thanks Annemieke - is there a specific post from your blog for October I should be linking to via Mr Linky? The link you've entered is just a general one to your blog - the idea is to link to a specific post related to the subject of this post.

    I'll come and have a rootle around later...


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