Growing winter salad leaves

Posted: Friday 19 October 2012
by Kate Bradbury

My rocket is cropping nicely and my lamb’s lettuce should be ready in a couple of weeks. But I'll sow more - my aim is to have fresh salads until December.

Lamb's lettuce growing in a pot

I’ve not had many grow-your-own successes this year, but I have enjoyed a good supply of home-grown salad leaves. I put this success down to the weather - plants seemed slower to bolt this year due to lower summer temperatures, and they didn’t go short of water, thanks to the endless rain.

My salad crops did attract the attentions of snails, but this was only a slight problem as they were in containers outside my back door and were therefore easy to keep an eye on.

I’m still harvesting fresh salad now – the rocket I sowed last month is cropping nicely and the lamb’s lettuce should be ready in a couple of weeks. A blanket of fleece should be enough to keep them going for a while longer, but I’ll also sow more. My aim is to have a supply of fresh salad leaves until at least December.

Yesterday I bought some more lamb’s lettuce and a packet of winter purslane seeds. I love the rich, almost concentrated flavours of these leaves and can’t wait to serve them with winter dishes of roasted pumpkin, lentils and feta cheese. I’ll be sowing the seeds in pots outside under a blanket of fleece.

The key to growing salads in winter is good drainage, as waterlogged soil may freeze and kill the plants. The advantage of growing them in pots is that they’re easy to manage – I can stand them on bricks to aid drainage and even bring them inside if temperatures plummet. And, being outside my back door, I don’t have to go far to look after them. What more could you want from a winter crop?

Which salads are you sowing for winter?

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