Growing salads during the summer months is pretty straight forward, but you do have to look out for the wildlife, – slugs & snails, pigeons and possibly deer. Monthly sowings will ensure continuity of supply from early summer until well into autumn. Salad growing through the winter is a much trickier job, – or is it. The photo shows a bowl of mixed salad leaves picked on the 30th December, and they are delicious. If you have a greenhouse, polytunnel or even a wide sunny windowsill you can do the same.
The best time to get started is early autumn while conditions are still warm. Choose a pack of mixed salad seeds. I like to sow 3 or 4 seeds in each cell of a module tray, decent multi-purpose compost and cover with Vermiculite. Cover with polythene bag and place somewhere warm until seedlings start to show then remove bag – this could be 3 or 4 days or more than a week depending upon temperature.
Once the seedlings are approx. 50mm / 2inches tall transplant the clusters of seedlings into a tray of box ideally 4 – 6 inches deep, filled with good multi-purpose compost spacing the clusters 2 – 3 inches apart, water gently.
You can start to pick the leaves, leaving the stems and roots intact when they are very small. I prefer to allow them to grow on a little longer, leaves 2 – 4 inches long depending upon variety. By picking just the outside leaves the plants will carry on growing and with a little care will continue to provide tasty leaves until the spring.