Friday 24 April 2015

Getting some salads started

Every year, one of my raised beds is always devoted to salad-production. Salads are good crops to grow if space is limited, because if you choose the right plants you can pick a few leaves here and there over a long period - a very different proposition to cutting, say, a single cabbage, which is a one-off opportunity.

First into the Salads bed this year were some Radishes. Seen here are 3 x 1.2 metre rows of Sparkler, Saxa and Cherry Belle. There are three more rows next to them, but they haven't germinated yet. This is part of my "successional sowing" plan, aiming to spread the harvest over a significant period of time.

At the far end of the bed I have put in 9 Lettuce seedlings, 3 each of 3 different varieties, in the hope that they will mature at different times. They are "Cervanek", "Devin" and an unknown red one from a mixed pack.

I have spaced them about 8 inches apart (8-ish, that is), which is a bit on the close side. If you want big Lettuces, you should plant them further apart.

I have lots more Lettuces coming on, because I aim to have a steady succession of them throughout the Summer. Well, that's the plan, anyway.

In one part of the bed I have sown seeds for a patch of "cutting salad". By this I mean a mix of lettuces, endives, cress etc, which I will cut as Baby Leaf Salad. I threw in some "Ishikura" Spring Onions just for good measure.

My mix included part of this pack of Proven├žale Salad Mix, which was amongst  the selection of trial seeds kindly supplied to me by Marshalls. It is a blend of "assorted species" (details not given), which are said to be "...winter hardy, with a longer cropping period. A delicious mix which will crop into the winter especially given a little protection." Recommended sowing dates are from March to October. Judging by the picture on the pack and the shape of the seeds, I think the mix includes Rocket, Mustard and perhaps Pak Choi. Not really "Proven├žale" in my humble opinion!

Notice also the "Misticanza di Lattughe", which has been one of the best packs of seeds I have ever bought. I got it from Seeds of Italy. The pack had literally hundreds of seeds in it, and I have used it again and again. The Use By date on the pack is 12/2011, but the seeds are definitely still viable.

I have identified the area for the Baby Leaf Salad with a rectangle of metal rods, which you can see (left side) in the photo below. I will remove the rods once the seeds germinate. They are only markers.

As you can also see in that photo, I have covered the whole bed with a net suspended on a cage made from aluminium rods and "Build-a-ball" balls. This is to deter animals who might be tempted to dig up my precious plants. By the way, the two green clumps in the foreground are Parsley, grown from seeds sown last September, kept in a pot in the coldframe over the Winter, and transplanted a few days ago.


  1. You remind me that I have to get my next succession of radishes going. I'll only have two as the bed will be used for melons over the summer and they have to make way for them.

  2. I have radish on the go and have just got a pack of mixed radish so I am going t get them going, salad leaves I grow in trays and sow them at 3 week intervals your plots are looking very neat and tidy :-)

  3. My first sowing of baby leaves are just about ready now. I don't usually grow many salad crops but I'm hoping to do better this year.

  4. The netting cage is impressive. Maybe something to consider for the garden salad bar

  5. I have just replanted my lettuce seedling out into beds. 'Brasil', 'May Queen' and 'Four Seasons' are my varieties.

  6. My salad bed always seems like one of the most productive parts of the garden, at least it does supply a steady supply of harvests. If only I could get my second round of lettuces to germinate, they are problematic this spring. Your radish harvests last year inspired me to grow them again and I've still got them going. Those germinate readily enough. The Saisai radish leaves that you inquired about are very good as salad greens if they are harvested very young. Unlike most radish greens they are not very prickly, the stems are succulent, and the flavor has just a hint of radish spice. The older leaves are very good in soups or stir fries. That particular radish has been selected primarily for its leaves rather than the roots, although the roots are edible.

    1. Thanks for the info on Saisai, Michelle.I don't think I have seen it on sale here in the UK, but I'll keep an eye open for it. Maybe this is what people are thinking of when they keep telling me "You should eat the radish leaves", because radish leaves always seem to me very unpalatable.

  7. I completely agree on the productivity of the lettuce bed - I was inundated with lettuce practically all summer last year. Mind you, we had a very cool summer, so I'm not sure how successful I would have been had the temperatures in July and August been normal.


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